Hungry Hound: The Soul Shack shakes up soul classics in Hyde Park

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The South Side has a fair number of soul food restaurants, but in Hyde Park, not as many as you might think. The Soul Shack is hoping to shake things up a bit in the neighborhood... for one thing, by not offering all of the usual standards.

There's no fried catfish, no smothered chicken and definitely no pork at The Soul Shack, but they are trying to maintain high standards while serving a number of familiar dishes. One thing you won't want to miss are the vegetarian side dishes, which are made fresh every day.

EXTRA COURSE: "Soul Rolls"
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Steve takes a closer look at Soul Shack's "Soul Rolls" - a full meal tucked into an egg roll.

A mountain of collard greens require strength and balance to cook. Stewed in pots the size of cannons, they are cooked down for hours. This is what mornings look like at The Soul Shack, which sits on a busy stretch of 53rd Street in Hyde Park.

"We just believe in keeping tradition in the family, so we clean and cook our collard greens fresh every day. With turkey; we are a no pork facility," said Gloria Roberts, owner of The Soul Shack.

One popular option is to get a sampler of several side dishes, and make it a meal. There's creamy, cheezy-rich mac & cheese, best eaten warm. The yams are also cooked in those enormous pots, stewed until sweet and caramelized. Cornbread gets a light shower of melted butter for extra flavor, right after it comes out of the oven. Each piece has the requisite crusty exterior, with a soft, crumbly middle. For main dishes, short ribs are popular, as is chicken, but you won't find whole chickens on the menu.

"We're only doing wings at this time. Our fried chicken is a southern tradition, coming from the South. It's hand battered every day we have a special ingredient we dare not share, but it's fried fresh to-order. There may be a little buttermilk marinade in there but if I tell you then I'll be giving away our secret," said Roberts.

You can try salmon as an alternative, but either way, Roberts said she and her staff are simply here to serve the neighborhood.

"Soul food is meant to feed your soul, we're here to feed the souls of everyone," she said.

The Soul Shack
1368 E. 53rd St.
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