9 Essential Soul Food Specialists in Austin

From catered banana pudding cinnamon rolls and perfect brisket, to chicken fried ribeye, we’ve got you covered.

The term “soul food” didn’t come about until the 1960s, but Black Southern cuisine has been filling stomachs and warming hearts since long before that. While it is generally agreed that not all Southern food is soul food, all soul food is Southern. But, sadly, for us in Austin, we’ve been losing a lot of the longtime stalwarts of Black comfort food. In the time we started putting together this list, two of our old-time favorites, Sassy's Vegetarian Soul FOOD and Country Boyz Fixins (still offering catering) had to shutter their Austin doors. So, with Emancipation Day right around the corner, we especially want to highlight some of our favorite spots that serve world-class sweet potato biscuits, peach cobblers, skillet cornbread, collard greens, and more.

During Juneteenth weekend, Austin is hosting the Soul Food Truck Fest, showcasing top-notch Southern dishes from all over the state. But no matter the time of year or holiday, Austinites still have plenty of excellent year-round options for soul food-style pork chops, beef, and fried fish and chicken that should be added to everyone’s to-dine list.

A much-loved spot off of East 14th street, Roland’s has about everything you’d want from a soul food joint. Just reading Roland’s menu will make you want to run out there, try everything, and sleep for the rest of the day. You generously get two sides and cornbread with every main dish—as it should be. While it’s impossible to go wrong here, customers particularly love the beef tips and rice, smothered pork chops, and peach cobblers.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first serve seating or order takeout online.

Cranky Granny's Sweet Rolls
Cranky Granny's Sweet Rolls

Cranky Granny’s understands the importance of the sweet side of soul food. They make specialty cinnamon rolls with a wide array of decadent flavors like churro, peach cobbler, and banana pudding. Owner Sianni Dean often posts passionate videos on the company’s Facebook page showcasing new flavors and toppings. Dean is in the process of relocating the brick-and-mortar location, but you can still enjoy their offerings through batch shipping, catering, and pick-up orders for the time being.
How to book: Order takeout, shipping, and catering online.

Soon reopening at a new location with sit-down, dine-in options, Ham Bonz brings you a variety of delicious, mostly fried, comfort food. You can try Cheryl’s Country Wings, Mo-T’s Fried Chicken, or their fried Poke Chops. Also, enjoy their non-alcoholic “house wines” of Kool-Aid and Tea-laid (Kool-Aid mixed with iced tea). You can also purchase a combo meal they’ll deliver to a local person without housing.
How to book: Check website for updates on new location and call 512.808.6430 for delivery.]

Fixe Southern House
Fixe Southern House

The menu at this well-executed spot is adorned with the Charles Bukowski quote, “I do not have time for things that have no soul.” This upscale joint means it. Fixe Southern House offers a different spin on the traditional soul food experience with unique dishes such as chicken fried steak made out of ribeye and their Heritage Pork Chop served with braised collards and bacon jam.
How to book: Make reservations online or call 512-888-9133.

East Cesar Chavez
In addition to all your soul food classics, Big Mama’s kitchen brings some unique options that you won’t see on other menus. Their honey-glazed salmon and pineapple bowls are truly tasty. And they aren’t slacking on their dessert game either. Put a nice bow on your bowl with a slice of pound cake or a deep-fried peach cobbler. Though it's worth working your way through the menu, we also support going to town on all the sweets.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first serve seating or order takeout and delivery online.

Hoover's Cooking
Hoover's Cooking

One of Austin’s more popular restaurants in general, Hoover’s Cooking has nothing to prove. They’ve been winning awards and serving hearty Southern-style meals for over 20 years. Charbroiled Catfish, Ham Steak with Jezebel Sauce, Sweet Potato Praline Cheesecake—the menu speaks for itself. Stop by for extra deals during their daily 4 pm to 6 pm happy hour when you can go ham without spending a fortune.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order takeout online.

Various locations
No soul food list is complete without mention of Southern barbecue. The folks at O’s Chop House hit that quota for us with their world-class brisket complete with a perfectly pink smoke ring under the crust. It’s seriously good stuff that is worthy of far more recognition than it receives. Customers can also chow down on their loaded baked potatoes, smoked jerk chicken, and strawberry shortcake.
How to book: Call 817-371-1947 to order.

The Rolling Rooster
The Rolling Rooster

Wells Branch
Chicken and waffles is another beloved soul food staple that actually comes from Harlem according to some. Others dispute the notion, claiming the sweet and savory combo does, in fact, hail from the South. No matter the case, we’re certainly not holding any grudges. Fortunately for Austinites, The Rolling Rooster takes it up a Southern notch by allowing guests to pair their chicken with either a regular or red velvet waffle. While you should go for that red velvet option, the waffle and poultry combinations are just the start of the menu. Fish, shrimp, zesty cheese sticks, pork chops, and more are also available. No matter what you choose, you’ll find the folks here definitely know how to make a good plate.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order takeout and delivery online.

Wells Branch
No Southern cookout is complete without some burgers on the grill. Inspired by their father’s favorite patties, the owners of this humble food truck serve delicious, no-fuss burger options with all the classic sides and wings you could want. They also offer catering services for corporate events, festivals, and everything in between.
How to book: Call 682-302-5008 to order delivery or schedule catering.

Jade Fabello is a contributor for Thrillist.