Dedicated customers have been begging Dan Chatman and his family, operators of the 11-year-old Soul Food Cafe Express truck, to open up a brick-and-mortar restaurant. That time has come. Family Soul made its debut in the fall just across the street from the AMC Rainbow Promenade movie theaters in the northwest Valley, serving up truck favorites and expanding the menu with fried fish and other Southern-style dishes.
The new restaurant has a cozy coffee-shop feel, a homey atmosphere that’s hard to find at other eateries in this franchise-heavy neighborhood. It recently expanded hours to include breakfast Wednesday through Sunday, building on the family-friendly experience with comfort fare like buttermilk pancakes ($5), shrimp and grits ($12) and chicken and waffles ($12).
At lunch and dinner, addictive appetizers like Soul Rolls ($8)—crispy egg rolls filled with collard greens and candied yams—and mac and cheese crab balls ($8-$10) leap off the menu. But the simple and perfect lemon pepper chicken wings ($8) also deserve attention. Family Soul serves whole wings ($15) as an entrée, and you can make those an extra-crispy part of a combo plate along with seafood options like catfish, salmon or shrimp. Or keep it light with a plate of grilled chicken, tilapia, shrimp or salmon.
The standard here is the fried catfish with greens and yams ($17), but feel free to mix and match your sides; from mac and cheese to red beans and rice, they’re all good. Family Soul serves special-occasion dishes like turkey wings ($15) and oxtails and rice ($20) every day, and $9 weekly specials bring Tuesday meatloaf, Thursday liver and onions and Wednesday smothered chicken into the mix. It’s a tall order, but try to save some room for homemade banana pudding or peach cobbler (both $7), the perfect sweet ending to a soul-satisfying meal.
FAMILY SOUL 2300 N. Rainbow Blvd, 725-205-5085. Tuesday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Wednesday-Saturday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.