ronda walker of creole with a splash of soul in the grove photo by izaiah johnson

The queens of St. Louis soul food

Tour St. Louis’ soul food scene with these Readers’ Choice Favorite Soul Food winners. 

Sweetie Pie’s Upper Crust (This establishment has closed since this article was published.)
First place
Just a few hundred yards from Grand Center Arts District, Sweetie Pie’s Upper Crust earned a national audience via a reality TV show following the fortunes of the Montgomery family and its matriarch, singer-turned-restaurateur Miss Robbie. The restaurant has become a local soul food institution, with frequently long lines attesting to its popularity. Order meat or fish and two or three sides from a menu of rotating daily specials – barbecue ribs and rib tips on Saturday, roast beef and huge turkey legs on Sunday – alongside staples like baked chicken and smothered pork steaks. No matter what day of the week you go, you’ll be eating hearty fare grounded squarely in the soul food canon like black eyed peas, mac ‘n’ cheese and okra. Don’t forget to order a slice of the peach or pear cobbler.
3643 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314.932.5364, Facebook: The Original Sweetie Pie’s

robbie montgomery of sweetie pie's upper crust // photo by izaiah johnson

Cathy’s Kitchen
Second place
A Saturday lunch at this delightful diner in the historic heart of Ferguson is a lunchtime well spent. The Route 66 decor adorning the walls takes you on a journey across the U.S., and chef-owner Cathy Jenkins’ menu reflects her love of travel as she puts her own spin on dishes she’s picked up on her adventures. Grab a booth or a chrome counter stool and take comfort in shrimp and grits, catfish nuggets, gumbo and Cathy’s signatures like the Cajun seafood macaroni, or go big with Philly cheese steaks and Chicago-style Italian beef sandwiches.
250 S. Florissant Road, Ferguson, 314.524.9200,

CC’s Vegan Spot SoulVeganlicious
Third place
Owner Trezel Brown is passionate about the health benefits of plant-based eating, but she also wants her vegan cooking to offer the comforting quality of a good home-cooked meal. At CC’s (named after her granddaughter) in Princeton Heights, Brown puts a plant-based spin on a number of soul food staples. The SoulFood Plate serves fried oyster mushrooms in place of chicken with yams and greens on the side. Other dinners feature plant-based takes on fried fish and roast beef, but Brown’s menu reaches beyond iconic soul food dishes to include plant-based burgers, nachos with vegan cheese, and highlights like the fried cauliflower bites with barbecue, Buffalo, sweet Asian or teriyaki sauce.
4993 Loughborough Ave., St. Louis, 314.899.9400,

a plate from soul food sunday at creole with a splash of soul // photo by izaiah johnson

Creole With A Splash Of Soul
Honorable mention
The weekday menu at Creole With A Splash Of Soul is imbued with Creole flavor, from Louisiana classics like shrimp étouffée and gumbo to crab cakes and the Down-on-the-Bayou pork chop. On weekends, the kitchen brings more than a splash of soul, particularly for Soul Food Sunday, a meat-and-two-sides affair that includes entrees like oxtails, meat loaf, and crispy and deliciously seasoned fried catfish. Sides like the dressing, red beans and rice, and mac ‘n’ cheese play a starring role, and it’s all attractively presented. The dining room feels personal and homey, with the light scent of incense and a soundtrack – Al Green, The O’ Jays and more – that adds to the ambiance. Reservations are recommended, particularly for groups of three and up.
4353 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314.349.2385,

the dining room at creole with a splash of soul // photo by izaiah johnson

Mom’s Soul Food Kitchen & Catering
Honorable mention
Mom’s Soul Food offers cafeteria-style dining by the book, with minimal fuss and plenty of heart. The dining room at the Delmar Boulevard location is simple and casual, but it’s really all about the food. Expect to find numerous types of red and white meats – brisket, chicken wings, pork neck, ribs – often coated liberally with barbecue sauce or gravy. The yams spring with warming holiday spices, the mac ‘n’ cheese has a pleasing crispy crust, and your meat and two sides will come in at under $20. Mom’s also offers a $7.50 lunch deal Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.
4909 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314.328.1333,; 1507 Goodfellow Blvd., St. Louis, 314.389.0916,