Eat + Drink

Soul Stirring: Best Southern Eats in Chicago

A feast of fried catfish, fantail shrimp and salmon croquette at Pearl’s Place (Photo: Ten Photos)

With top chef bistros and Michelin-rated spots filling every other neighborhood, Chicago restaurants are noted for their sophistication and diversity.

But the Windy City is also home to no-frills, soul food diners that deliver the comfort food that Chicagoans with southern heritage crave.

Scattered on the south and west sides of the city where the original Great Migration families settled, here’s a list of the best soul food restaurants in Chicago.

Pearl’s Place


Pearl’s Place’s signature shrimp and cheesy grits (Photo: Ten Photos)


A Bronzeville classic, with soul and jazz album covers lining the walls and butcher paper and cloth flowers topping the tables, this sit down restaurant supplies soul food with a classy vibe and attentive service.

The menu features an all you can eat buffet with staples like salmon croquettes and smoked ham hocks as well as reasonably priced a la carte dishes, so the place is always packed.

Don’t miss the complimentary cornbread speckled with corn kernels and served on a silver dish with whipped butter or the signature shrimp and cheesy grits.

The details: A dress code frowns on plain white tees, tank tops and sagging jeans. The server assisted buffet features an extra charge if you don’t finish the food that you request.

MacAurthur’s Restaurant

best-soulfood-chicago-macarthurs.jpgBlack-eyed peas, corn, mashed potatoes, beef short ribs, and cornbread muffins at MacArthur’s (Photo: Ten Photos)


This cafeteria style diner qualifies as an Austin neighborhood institution, with everybody from President Obama to local dignitaries making regular visits.

Expect to wait in line to place your order from an extensive array of essentials including smothered pork chops, neck bones, collard greens and black eyed peas.

Servings are generous and the prices are great, with three to four dishes for under $10.

The well seasoned food makes up for the bland space.

The details: Cash only but an ATM is located inside.

Morrison’s Soul Food


Collard greens, sweet potatoes, and other delicious offerings at Morrison’s Soul Food (Photo: Ten Photos)


A true hole in the wall located across the street from a pawn shop, this small eatery wins customers with the city’s most exhaustive selection of soul food.

One of the only cafeteria-style diners that serves up fresh chitterlings, Morrison’s also offers chicken prepared four different ways (baked, fried, barbecued, Cajun) and deep fried turkeys. Don’t bother eating in the dimly lit room, most customers carry out.

The details: Cash only, an ATM is located inside.