West Side soul food hits the spot

January 17, 2009 7:25:33 PM PST
On Tuesday, America inaugurates its first African American president. And certainly Hyde Park has had its share of the spotlight.But let's not forget that on Monday, it's Martin Luther King day. And when Dr. King lived and worked in Chicago during the Civil Rights movement, he lived on the West Side.

When historians look back at Dr. King's time in Chicago, they most certainly point to his work on the West Side. While we always acknowledge South Side legends such as Izola's, Captain's Hard Time and Army and Lou's, we decided, in honor of Monday's holiday, to grab a fork and head west.

If there was a pure definition for "West Side Soul," it would certainly include Edna's, an iconic restaurant in East Garfield Park for more than 40 years. Its namesake - Edna Stewart - still works in the kitchen, turning out her famous, buttery biscuits and decadent fried chicken. Greens, ribs and cobbler are some of the other soul staples and it's fairly obvious why diners have been so loyal for more than four decades.

"I got customers still coming in from 1966 so, they like the food, they like the atmosphere, and there's only a few real soul food restaurants in Chicago," says Edna Stewart.

One of them is just a mile or so away. Doggy's S.S. Soul Eatery has been open for about eight years in Lawndale serving baked and smothered chicken, dressing with gravy plus extra cheesy macaroni, collard greens and crumbly corn muffins. Mile-high cakes and bread pudding offer sweet endings, but it's the ham, chicken and turkey they're most proud of.

"Ham hocks and baked chicken we always have already done and probably a turkey pot; either turkey wing or turkey drum," says Harry Cannon, owner of Doggy's S.S. Soul Eatery.

On the far West Side of the city in the South Austin neighborhood MacArthur's has been a magnet for locals, celebrities and athletes, since it opened about 12 years ago.

It's cafeteria-style soul but business is so brisk, there's always good turnover and freshly-made food on hand. For less than ten bucks, you can eat like a king: spaghetti, fish, corn muffins not to mention the candied yams, mashed potatoes and super-rich mac 'n cheese. Save room for sweets, because the peach cobbler and banana pudding are hard to resist. While the food is soul-satisfying, the restaurant's real purpose is to provide a tasty alternative on the West Side.

"It's a restaurant within a community that's affordable so that the people within the community can afford to come and eat and enjoy themselves," says Sharon McKennie of MacArthur's.

And a bit further west in suburban Hillside, another great option is Priscilla's Ultimate Soul Food which recently opened a second store in Streamwood.

3175 W. Madison

5412 W. Madison

Doggy's S.S. Soul Eatery
2815 W. Harrison

Also mentioned:
Priscilla's Ultimate Soul Food
4330 W. Roosevelt Rd., Hillside

1020 S. Barrington Rd., Streamwood