clock menu more-arrow no yes
An order of turkey wings from Henry’s Soul Cafe on U Street NW
An order of turkey wings from Henry’s Soul Cafe on U Street NW
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

15 Standout Soul Food Spots to Try Around D.C.

Where to load up on wings, greens, crab dip, and mac and cheese

View as Map
An order of turkey wings from Henry’s Soul Cafe on U Street NW
| Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

D.C.’s soul food restaurants memorialize the city’s Black history. Institutions such as the Florida Avenue Grill, Henry’s Soul Cafe on U Street NW, and Petworth’s Hitching Post were serving up comforting staples such as fried chicken wings, mac and cheese, and crab-smothered sandwiches long before high-end condos and plant shops moved into some of the District’s busiest corridors.

Each of the establishments on this map offers its own spin on the classics. Craving healthier soul food? NuVegan Cafe and Everlasting Life’s all-vegetable dishes might taste even better than the real deal. Would you rather have jerk chicken than fried chicken with your meal? Andrene’s Caribbean & Soul Food Carryout has that, and more island favorites, at its Brightwood Park outpost. Some go-tos have temporarily closed during the pandemic. Torrie’s, the 20-year-old diner in Shaw, hopes to reopen in early 2021. Sweetpea’s Classic Soul Food, serving gravy-smothered pork chops since 2018, has disconnected its phone line.

The next time a soul food craving hits, consider ordering from these 15 restaurants.

D.C. is shutting down indoor dining from Christmas Eve through January 14. Many restaurants offer outdoor seating, but this should not be taken as endorsement for dining out, as there are still safety concerns. The Washington Post is tracking coronavirus cases and deaths in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. More information can be found at coronavirus.dc.gov. Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines.

Read More
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Carolina Kitchen Bar & Grill

Copy Link
6501 America Blvd
Hyattsville, MD 20782
(301) 927-2929
Visit Website

Carolina Kitchen offers a menu chock-full of hearty Cajun and Ceole creations. One of its best, the Creole grilled salmon, is a monster of a dish: 8 ounces of tender salmon slathered in a creamy sauce with crab meat and shrimp over a bed of mashed potatoes. And if that weren’t enough, it also comes with servings of mac and cheese and collard greens. 

2. A Place To Walk To

Copy Link
6451 America Blvd Ste 101
Hyattsville, MD 20782
(301) 779-4129
Visit Website

A Place to Walk began as a popular food truck in Prince George’s County before opening a brick and mortar location at the University Town Center in Hyattsville, Maryland, in 2020. Breakfast and lunch are specialties, and ordering shrimp and grits is a must. The thick, creamy grits are served with sauteed shrimp in a Cajun cream sauce. Order online here.

Dry-spiced jerk wings and mac and cheese from A Place to Walk To
Dry-spiced jerk wings and mac and cheese from A Place to Walk To
Matthew Mcintosh/@20three47

3. Andrene's

Copy Link
308 Kennedy St NW
Washington, DC 20011
(202) 291-7007
Visit Website

The Brightwood cafe represents a thoughtful marriage of American and Caribbean cuisine. Besides the usual staples like cornbread, potato salad, ribs, and whiting, Andrene’s has a vast selection of jerk and curried chicken options, plus oxtail, on its eclectic menu. For first-timers, the jerk chicken wingettes are a solid starter divvied up in portions of six, nine, or 12 pieces. These wings boast bold flavors with meat that nearly falls off the bone.

4. Hitching Post Restaurant

Copy Link
200 Upshur St NW
Washington, DC 20011
(202) 726-1511
Visit Website

Situated across from President Lincoln’s Cottage in Petworth, Hitching Post is a slice of old D.C. In business since 1967, Hitching Post offers generous portions of soul food. The fried wing dinner, which comes with five mega-sized pieces and two sides, easily feeds two. Slather on some habanero-mango hot sauce for an extra kick. A relaxed outdoor patio makes this restaurant a great spot for people watching, too. Call in takeout orders or get delivery via Uber Eats.

Dining review - Hitching Post
Fried whiting from the Hitching Post
Deb Lindsey/for The Washington Post via Getty Images

5. NuVegan Café (Multiple locations)

Copy Link
2928 Georgia Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 232-1700
Visit Website

NuVegan could convert the most ardent meat eaters into adopting a vegan diet. Dishes such as the vegan “chick’n” drummies and crab cake sandwich — both made with soy — taste and look so similar to the real thing that customers might not notice a difference within the first couple bites. To wash down all that comfort food, NuVegan has an expansive menu of fresh juices. Order online here.

6. Florida Avenue Grill

Copy Link
1100 Florida Ave NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 265-1586
Visit Website

The Florida Avenue Grill is the dean of D.C.’s soul food scene. Original owners Lacey and Bertha Wilson bought the location on the corner of Florida Avenue and 11th Street NW in 1944 with the tips Lacey had made as a Capitol Hill shoeshine man. The greasy spoon spot is known as a go-to place for breakfast, though their menu does prepare comforting homestyle dinners (think chitterlings, pig feet, and other Southern favorites). During the pandemic, the grill opens a carryout window Friday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Eater Scenes, Florida Avenue Grill
The Florida Ave. Grill was known to draw long wait times before the pandemic
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

7. Oohh's & Aahh's (Multiple locations)

Copy Link
1005 U St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 667-7142
Visit Website

Oohh’s and Aahh’s doesn’t reinvent the wheel; it works on perfecting the classics. The elbow mac ‘n’ cheese, baked with an ideal balance of cheese and noodles, is a marquee dish, especially for the late-night crowd. Since opening its U Street location in 2003, executive chef and owner Oji Abbott has put down roots at a second location, on Georgia Avenue NW in Brightwood Park. Order takeout online here.

US-TOURISM-RESTAURANT-RACISM-DISCRIMINATION
Oji Abbott sits in front of Oohh’s and Aahh’s on U Street NW
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

8. Henry's Soul Cafe (Multiple locations)

Copy Link
1704 U St NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 265-3336
Visit Website

Henry’s Soul Cafe opened in 1968 as a convenience store and restaurant before it began selling sweet and savory soul food. The sweet potato pie that put the cafe on the map comes from an old family recipe of the original owner, Henry E. Smith, and has been sampled by notable figures such as former President Barack Obama. Order online from U Street or Oxon Hill, Maryland, locations here.

Sweet potato pie from Henry’s Soul Food Cafe
Sweet potato pie from Henry’s Soul Cafe
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

9. Saints Paradise Cafeteria

Copy Link
601 M St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 789-2289

Saint’s Paradise Cafeteria is a hidden gem tucked at the basement level of The United House of Prayer for All People church in Mount Vernon Triangle. There’s no frills here, just homestyle cooking that reminds regulars of their  grandma’s whiting, cornbread, and fried chicken recipes. The prices are also ridiculously low for the amount of food served; for under $10, customers  can score a full-course meal with an entree, two vegetables, and bread.

10. Georgia Brown's

Copy Link
950 15th St NW
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 525-2403
Visit Website

Georgia Brown’s has reopened its downtown location after shutting down temporarily due to COVID-19. Known for Lowcountry cooking, it serves crispy fried green tomatoes accompanied by bold flavors of lemon cayenne mayonnaise and herbed goat cheese. The Carolina gumbo with spicy andouille sausage, shrimp, and chicken, is the epitome of comfort food. Order online here.

11. Milk & Honey (Multiple locations)

Copy Link
1245 H St NE
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 396-0038
Visit Website

Milk and Honey is the brainchild of chef Sammy Davis, a former “Chopped: Redemption” winner whose all-day brunch-themed restaurant has locations on H Street NE; in College Park, Maryland; and in Atlanta. Entrees such as the deep fried salmon hash are comforting on brisk winter days, with a generously-sized portion of fish that’s crisp and well-seasoned on the outside and tender and flaky on the inside. 

12. Kitchen Cray (Multiple locations)

Copy Link
1301 H St NE
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 396-2729
Visit Website

Kitchen Cray’s opening in 2013 marked a pivotal turning point in chef and owner J.R. Robinson’s career. At his Lanham, Maryland, restaurant, he served a contemporary take on soul food recipes to celebrities such as Janelle Monae and secured his placement as a contestant on Hell’s Kitchen. He recently expanded Kitchen Cray to H Street NE, where customers can find its signature buttermilk fried chicken topped over a mountain of french toast drizzled with caramel and vanilla sauces. 

Fried chicken comes with French toast soaked in ice cream base at KitchenCray
Fried chicken comes with French toast soaked in ice cream base at KitchenCray
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

13. ELife Restaurant (Multiple locations)

Copy Link
9185 Central Ave
Capitol Heights, MD 20743
(301) 324-6900
Visit Website

Veteran vegan restaurateur Dr. Baruch Ben-Yehudah owns three locations of Elife around D.C. Each day features a new slate of dishes, and there’s a Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. where customers can get vegan sausage, scrambled tofu, home fries, and more Southern cooking. Order online from Capitol Heights or Takoma.

14. In A Minute Cafe

Copy Link
9244 E Hampton Dr #203
Capitol Heights, MD 20743
(240) 390-7146
Visit Website

This Capitol Heights, Maryland, haunt doesn’t skimp on seafood, especially crab. Whimsical creations  include the Messy Marvin, a cheesesteak topped with crap dip, or a seafood quesadilla stuffed with crab, shrimp, peppers and cheese — with another round of crab dip on the side. The menu changes daily, so there’s always something new for regulars to try. Order online here.

Crab fries and Hennessy wings at In a Minute Cafe.
Crab fries and Hennessy wings at In a Minute Cafe.
In a Minute Cafe/official photo

15. The Uncaged Chefs

Copy Link
6027 Marlboro Pike
District Heights, MD 20747
(301) 736-2727
Visit Website

The Uncaged Chef’s motto is simple: No rules, just good food. Its menu changes with every big, over-the-top soul food creation: funnel cake waffles topped with hearty pieces of fried chicken smothered in Hennessy cinnamon glaze, or a cajun crab cake with shrimp and pasta. Uncaged Chefs serves a full menu from Wednesday to Sunday, “trap” tacos on Tuesday (featuring items such as crab mac and cheese tacos) and a vegan menu on Mondays. 

1. Carolina Kitchen Bar & Grill

6501 America Blvd, Hyattsville, MD 20782

Carolina Kitchen offers a menu chock-full of hearty Cajun and Ceole creations. One of its best, the Creole grilled salmon, is a monster of a dish: 8 ounces of tender salmon slathered in a creamy sauce with crab meat and shrimp over a bed of mashed potatoes. And if that weren’t enough, it also comes with servings of mac and cheese and collard greens. 

6501 America Blvd
Hyattsville, MD 20782

2. A Place To Walk To

6451 America Blvd Ste 101, Hyattsville, MD 20782
Dry-spiced jerk wings and mac and cheese from A Place to Walk To
Dry-spiced jerk wings and mac and cheese from A Place to Walk To
Matthew Mcintosh/@20three47

A Place to Walk began as a popular food truck in Prince George’s County before opening a brick and mortar location at the University Town Center in Hyattsville, Maryland, in 2020. Breakfast and lunch are specialties, and ordering shrimp and grits is a must. The thick, creamy grits are served with sauteed shrimp in a Cajun cream sauce. Order online here.

6451 America Blvd Ste 101
Hyattsville, MD 20782

3. Andrene's

308 Kennedy St NW, Washington, DC 20011

The Brightwood cafe represents a thoughtful marriage of American and Caribbean cuisine. Besides the usual staples like cornbread, potato salad, ribs, and whiting, Andrene’s has a vast selection of jerk and curried chicken options, plus oxtail, on its eclectic menu. For first-timers, the jerk chicken wingettes are a solid starter divvied up in portions of six, nine, or 12 pieces. These wings boast bold flavors with meat that nearly falls off the bone.

308 Kennedy St NW
Washington, DC 20011

4. Hitching Post Restaurant

200 Upshur St NW, Washington, DC 20011
Dining review - Hitching Post
Fried whiting from the Hitching Post
Deb Lindsey/for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Situated across from President Lincoln’s Cottage in Petworth, Hitching Post is a slice of old D.C. In business since 1967, Hitching Post offers generous portions of soul food. The fried wing dinner, which comes with five mega-sized pieces and two sides, easily feeds two. Slather on some habanero-mango hot sauce for an extra kick. A relaxed outdoor patio makes this restaurant a great spot for people watching, too. Call in takeout orders or get delivery via Uber Eats.

200 Upshur St NW
Washington, DC 20011

5. NuVegan Café (Multiple locations)

2928 Georgia Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001

NuVegan could convert the most ardent meat eaters into adopting a vegan diet. Dishes such as the vegan “chick’n” drummies and crab cake sandwich — both made with soy — taste and look so similar to the real thing that customers might not notice a difference within the first couple bites. To wash down all that comfort food, NuVegan has an expansive menu of fresh juices. Order online here.

2928 Georgia Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001

6. Florida Avenue Grill

1100 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009
Eater Scenes, Florida Avenue Grill
The Florida Ave. Grill was known to draw long wait times before the pandemic
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

The Florida Avenue Grill is the dean of D.C.’s soul food scene. Original owners Lacey and Bertha Wilson bought the location on the corner of Florida Avenue and 11th Street NW in 1944 with the tips Lacey had made as a Capitol Hill shoeshine man. The greasy spoon spot is known as a go-to place for breakfast, though their menu does prepare comforting homestyle dinners (think chitterlings, pig feet, and other Southern favorites). During the pandemic, the grill opens a carryout window Friday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

1100 Florida Ave NW
Washington, DC 20009

7. Oohh's & Aahh's (Multiple locations)

1005 U St NW, Washington, DC 20001
US-TOURISM-RESTAURANT-RACISM-DISCRIMINATION
Oji Abbott sits in front of Oohh’s and Aahh’s on U Street NW
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

Oohh’s and Aahh’s doesn’t reinvent the wheel; it works on perfecting the classics. The elbow mac ‘n’ cheese, baked with an ideal balance of cheese and noodles, is a marquee dish, especially for the late-night crowd. Since opening its U Street location in 2003, executive chef and owner Oji Abbott has put down roots at a second location, on Georgia Avenue NW in Brightwood Park. Order takeout online here.

1005 U St NW
Washington, DC 20001

8. Henry's Soul Cafe (Multiple locations)

1704 U St NW, Washington, DC 20009
Sweet potato pie from Henry’s Soul Food Cafe
Sweet potato pie from Henry’s Soul Cafe
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Henry’s Soul Cafe opened in 1968 as a convenience store and restaurant before it began selling sweet and savory soul food. The sweet potato pie that put the cafe on the map comes from an old family recipe of the original owner, Henry E. Smith, and has been sampled by notable figures such as former President Barack Obama. Order online from U Street or Oxon Hill, Maryland, locations here.

1704 U St NW
Washington, DC 20009

9. Saints Paradise Cafeteria

601 M St NW, Washington, DC 20001

Saint’s Paradise Cafeteria is a hidden gem tucked at the basement level of The United House of Prayer for All People church in Mount Vernon Triangle. There’s no frills here, just homestyle cooking that reminds regulars of their  grandma’s whiting, cornbread, and fried chicken recipes. The prices are also ridiculously low for the amount of food served; for under $10, customers  can score a full-course meal with an entree, two vegetables, and bread.

601 M St NW
Washington, DC 20001

10. Georgia Brown's

950 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20005

Georgia Brown’s has reopened its downtown location after shutting down temporarily due to COVID-19. Known for Lowcountry cooking, it serves crispy fried green tomatoes accompanied by bold flavors of lemon cayenne mayonnaise and herbed goat cheese. The Carolina gumbo with spicy andouille sausage, shrimp, and chicken, is the epitome of comfort food. Order online here.

950 15th St NW
Washington, DC 20005

11. Milk & Honey (Multiple locations)

1245 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002

Milk and Honey is the brainchild of chef Sammy Davis, a former “Chopped: Redemption” winner whose all-day brunch-themed restaurant has locations on H Street NE; in College Park, Maryland; and in Atlanta. Entrees such as the deep fried salmon hash are comforting on brisk winter days, with a generously-sized portion of fish that’s crisp and well-seasoned on the outside and tender and flaky on the inside. 

1245 H St NE
Washington, DC 20002

12. Kitchen Cray (Multiple locations)

1301 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002
Fried chicken comes with French toast soaked in ice cream base at KitchenCray
Fried chicken comes with French toast soaked in ice cream base at KitchenCray
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Kitchen Cray’s opening in 2013 marked a pivotal turning point in chef and owner J.R. Robinson’s career. At his Lanham, Maryland, restaurant, he served a contemporary take on soul food recipes to celebrities such as Janelle Monae and secured his placement as a contestant on Hell’s Kitchen. He recently expanded Kitchen Cray to H Street NE, where customers can find its signature buttermilk fried chicken topped over a mountain of french toast drizzled with caramel and vanilla sauces. 

1301 H St NE
Washington, DC 20002

13. ELife Restaurant (Multiple locations)

9185 Central Ave, Capitol Heights, MD 20743

Veteran vegan restaurateur Dr. Baruch Ben-Yehudah owns three locations of Elife around D.C. Each day features a new slate of dishes, and there’s a Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. where customers can get vegan sausage, scrambled tofu, home fries, and more Southern cooking. Order online from Capitol Heights or Takoma.

9185 Central Ave
Capitol Heights, MD 20743

14. In A Minute Cafe

9244 E Hampton Dr #203, Capitol Heights, MD 20743
Crab fries and Hennessy wings at In a Minute Cafe.
Crab fries and Hennessy wings at In a Minute Cafe.
In a Minute Cafe/official photo

This Capitol Heights, Maryland, haunt doesn’t skimp on seafood, especially crab. Whimsical creations  include the Messy Marvin, a cheesesteak topped with crap dip, or a seafood quesadilla stuffed with crab, shrimp, peppers and cheese — with another round of crab dip on the side. The menu changes daily, so there’s always something new for regulars to try. Order online here.

9244 E Hampton Dr #203
Capitol Heights, MD 20743

15. The Uncaged Chefs

6027 Marlboro Pike, District Heights, MD 20747

The Uncaged Chef’s motto is simple: No rules, just good food. Its menu changes with every big, over-the-top soul food creation: funnel cake waffles topped with hearty pieces of fried chicken smothered in Hennessy cinnamon glaze, or a cajun crab cake with shrimp and pasta. Uncaged Chefs serves a full menu from Wednesday to Sunday, “trap” tacos on Tuesday (featuring items such as crab mac and cheese tacos) and a vegan menu on Mondays. 

6027 Marlboro Pike
District Heights, MD 20747

Related Maps