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Fried chicken wings are seen in the foreground in a takeout box in front of corn on the cob, mac and cheese, and green beans
Fried chicken plate from Kee’s #Loaded Kitchen
Ron Scott/EPDX

9 Spots for Serious Soul Food in Portland and Beyond

Where to find fried chicken, collard greens, candied yams, and more

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Fried chicken plate from Kee’s #Loaded Kitchen
| Ron Scott/EPDX

Though “soul food” as a culinary descriptor originated in the 1960s, the cuisine and its gastronomical elements, traditions, and history stretch back for centuries, with roots in the African diaspora, the transatlantic slave trade, and early Black foodways. It’s a cuisine in the world not named after a certain nation; its name evokes a feeling, and often memories going back through generations of shared meals and cooking traditions. In Portland, dishes like fried chicken and mac and cheese have long been popular, but a growing number of Black-owned restaurants and food carts have started to flesh out the city’s soul food scene, serving saucy smothered turkey legs, candied yams, and cornmeal-fried catfish.

Inside this map are the top restaurants and carts around town for crispy fried chicken and fish, smoky and saucy barbecue, loaded sides galore, cheesy grits, and sweet and biscuity desserts. Per usual, this map is not ranked; it’s organized geographically.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Riptz City Eats

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4105 SW 117th Ave
Beaverton, OR 97005
(503) 747-3481

One of the newest on the soul food scene is this Beaverton brick-and-mortar, which occupies a former Pizza Hut location in the Canyon Place Shopping Center. Inside, owner Ron Thomas started by casting a wide net of burgers, barbecue, pizza, Mexican food, and soul food, but has since scaled things back, cutting the menu down to soul food and burgers. Fried chicken and wings are the main attraction here, served with sides of collard greens and mac and cheese. The fried chicken is also available with waffles — a breast or six wings — served with smoked gouda and drizzled with strawberry habanero syrup. It’s open for dine-in service, as well as takeout.

2. The Mac

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11540 SW Pacific Hwy
Portland, OR 97223
(503) 880-3839
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Mac and cheese might be the most popular side food dish at most restaurants in town — soul food or otherwise. In the Portland metro area, there are countless great places to find a steamy bowl of chewy noodles drenched in gooey cheese. The Mac takes these bowls a step or two further, offering everything from typical protein additions such as turkey, bacon, or smoked chicken all the way up to king crab legs, lobster, steak, and brisket. Beyond the noodles, The Mac also serves fried or smoked chicken strips, standalone or in the form or sliders. It’s open every day except Sunday.

3. Everybody Eats PDX

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138 NW 10th Ave
Portland, OR 97209
(503) 318-1619
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This soul food restaurant in the Pearl District is home to a jaw-dropping menu of mac and cheese variations and seafood, but one of the finest items on the dinner menu is the smothered turkey wings — tender, drenched in a rich gravy, and best paired with the restaurant’s ultra-cheesy mac and cheese and vanilla-laced candied yams. Its brunch menu includes fun spins on classic dishes like strawberry shortcake and peach cobbler chicken and waffles. Everybody Eats also features an upstairs bar, with fun daily specials like “fishbowl Fridays,” where giant fishbowls are paired with a basket of fried fish. It’s open for onsite dining, takeout, and delivery.

4. Ja'Das Soulful Eatz

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7339 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Portland, OR 97211

Owner Jamie Turner comes from the world of cupcakes, but after some coaxing by friends and family, she decided to open Ja’Das Soulful Eatz in 2014. Customers at the Park the Carts pod on MLK choose from a tight menu, featuring piping-hot lemon pepper wings, cornmeal-fried basa and catfish strips, fried chicken, and shrimp-filled mac and cheese. No visit would be complete without dessert, of course: Turner usually has something tasty behind the window, from sweet potato pie to banana pudding.

5. Kee's #Loaded Kitchen

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5020 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Portland, OR 97212
(503) 516-2078
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Kee’s might very well be the most well-known soul food spot on this map, often accruing long lines of customers seeking brown sugar ribs and fried chicken tossed with what she calls the “gold dust.” Back in April, it shifted from its original location to a different parking lot a few blocks away, but what’s made Kiauna Nelson a household name in Portland — giant to-go boxes of sweet-salty fried chicken, saucy mac and cheese, and crispy fried catfish — has remained unchanged. 

6. V' Soul Food Shack

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4549 NE 60th Ave
Portland, OR 97218
(503) 405-4200
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This quaint little mobile home sits in the Cully Central food cart pod, where it serves familiar soul food dishes like fried chicken and wings, as well as fried catfish and red snapper, gumbo, and whole racks of sauce-slathered St. Louis-style ribs. Side options include many of the usual suspects (mac and cheese, potato salad), but also a few southern sides not as easily found elsewhere, including cabbage and yams. It is open from Tuesday to Friday.

7. Erica's Soul Food

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803 SE 82nd Ave
Portland, OR 97216
(503) 922-5519
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This up-and-coming, bright yellow cart has been in operation since the beginning of 2020, serving boiled peanuts, catfish, and an array of chicken wings. The move is to go for the knockout smothered chicken in a deep mushroom gravy, with a few sides of collards and mac and cheese,  and, of course, a pile of wings, be it buffalo bacon ranch or the ATL — Atlanta-style chicken wings in a saucy lemon-pepper glaze.

8. Selena's Custom Kitchen

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4450 NE 131st Pl
Portland, OR 97230
(503) 309-3495
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This seafoam green and purple cart in the Argay neighborhood on NE Sandy Blvd opened just last year. Selena and her husband Greg had a vision for a cart that kept things pretty simple: just fish and fries. Though they’ve stayed mostly true to that vision, they’ve also added some other soul food sweet staples like banana pudding and peach cobbler. The star of the show here, however, is the warming and well-seasoned crawfish etouffee. It’s also one of the only places in town to find another soul food favorite: Southern-style mustard greens, which come with smoked turkey.

9. VeraJames kitchen

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16101 SE Division St
Portland, OR 97236
(503) 607-6717

This bright vermillion-hued cart sits just off Division Street and 162nd Avenue, where six days a week it serves up soul food favorites to locals. It operates with a small menu of barbecue ribs and chicken, deep-fried catfish, and a handful of sides, ranging from savory collard greens and smokey-sweet baked beans — plus some peach cobbler to finishing things off. The menu changes from time to time, and the cart moves around to festivals and events, so it’s best to call ahead before heading out to the cart.

1. Riptz City Eats

4105 SW 117th Ave, Beaverton, OR 97005

One of the newest on the soul food scene is this Beaverton brick-and-mortar, which occupies a former Pizza Hut location in the Canyon Place Shopping Center. Inside, owner Ron Thomas started by casting a wide net of burgers, barbecue, pizza, Mexican food, and soul food, but has since scaled things back, cutting the menu down to soul food and burgers. Fried chicken and wings are the main attraction here, served with sides of collard greens and mac and cheese. The fried chicken is also available with waffles — a breast or six wings — served with smoked gouda and drizzled with strawberry habanero syrup. It’s open for dine-in service, as well as takeout.

4105 SW 117th Ave
Beaverton, OR 97005

2. The Mac

11540 SW Pacific Hwy, Portland, OR 97223

Mac and cheese might be the most popular side food dish at most restaurants in town — soul food or otherwise. In the Portland metro area, there are countless great places to find a steamy bowl of chewy noodles drenched in gooey cheese. The Mac takes these bowls a step or two further, offering everything from typical protein additions such as turkey, bacon, or smoked chicken all the way up to king crab legs, lobster, steak, and brisket. Beyond the noodles, The Mac also serves fried or smoked chicken strips, standalone or in the form or sliders. It’s open every day except Sunday.

11540 SW Pacific Hwy
Portland, OR 97223

3. Everybody Eats PDX

138 NW 10th Ave, Portland, OR 97209

This soul food restaurant in the Pearl District is home to a jaw-dropping menu of mac and cheese variations and seafood, but one of the finest items on the dinner menu is the smothered turkey wings — tender, drenched in a rich gravy, and best paired with the restaurant’s ultra-cheesy mac and cheese and vanilla-laced candied yams. Its brunch menu includes fun spins on classic dishes like strawberry shortcake and peach cobbler chicken and waffles. Everybody Eats also features an upstairs bar, with fun daily specials like “fishbowl Fridays,” where giant fishbowls are paired with a basket of fried fish. It’s open for onsite dining, takeout, and delivery.

138 NW 10th Ave
Portland, OR 97209

4. Ja'Das Soulful Eatz

7339 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Portland, OR 97211

Owner Jamie Turner comes from the world of cupcakes, but after some coaxing by friends and family, she decided to open Ja’Das Soulful Eatz in 2014. Customers at the Park the Carts pod on MLK choose from a tight menu, featuring piping-hot lemon pepper wings, cornmeal-fried basa and catfish strips, fried chicken, and shrimp-filled mac and cheese. No visit would be complete without dessert, of course: Turner usually has something tasty behind the window, from sweet potato pie to banana pudding.

7339 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Portland, OR 97211

5. Kee's #Loaded Kitchen

5020 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Portland, OR 97212

Kee’s might very well be the most well-known soul food spot on this map, often accruing long lines of customers seeking brown sugar ribs and fried chicken tossed with what she calls the “gold dust.” Back in April, it shifted from its original location to a different parking lot a few blocks away, but what’s made Kiauna Nelson a household name in Portland — giant to-go boxes of sweet-salty fried chicken, saucy mac and cheese, and crispy fried catfish — has remained unchanged. 

5020 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Portland, OR 97212

6. V' Soul Food Shack

4549 NE 60th Ave, Portland, OR 97218

This quaint little mobile home sits in the Cully Central food cart pod, where it serves familiar soul food dishes like fried chicken and wings, as well as fried catfish and red snapper, gumbo, and whole racks of sauce-slathered St. Louis-style ribs. Side options include many of the usual suspects (mac and cheese, potato salad), but also a few southern sides not as easily found elsewhere, including cabbage and yams. It is open from Tuesday to Friday.

4549 NE 60th Ave
Portland, OR 97218

7. Erica's Soul Food

803 SE 82nd Ave, Portland, OR 97216

This up-and-coming, bright yellow cart has been in operation since the beginning of 2020, serving boiled peanuts, catfish, and an array of chicken wings. The move is to go for the knockout smothered chicken in a deep mushroom gravy, with a few sides of collards and mac and cheese,  and, of course, a pile of wings, be it buffalo bacon ranch or the ATL — Atlanta-style chicken wings in a saucy lemon-pepper glaze.

803 SE 82nd Ave
Portland, OR 97216

8. Selena's Custom Kitchen

4450 NE 131st Pl, Portland, OR 97230

This seafoam green and purple cart in the Argay neighborhood on NE Sandy Blvd opened just last year. Selena and her husband Greg had a vision for a cart that kept things pretty simple: just fish and fries. Though they’ve stayed mostly true to that vision, they’ve also added some other soul food sweet staples like banana pudding and peach cobbler. The star of the show here, however, is the warming and well-seasoned crawfish etouffee. It’s also one of the only places in town to find another soul food favorite: Southern-style mustard greens, which come with smoked turkey.

4450 NE 131st Pl
Portland, OR 97230

9. VeraJames kitchen

16101 SE Division St, Portland, OR 97236

This bright vermillion-hued cart sits just off Division Street and 162nd Avenue, where six days a week it serves up soul food favorites to locals. It operates with a small menu of barbecue ribs and chicken, deep-fried catfish, and a handful of sides, ranging from savory collard greens and smokey-sweet baked beans — plus some peach cobbler to finishing things off. The menu changes from time to time, and the cart moves around to festivals and events, so it’s best to call ahead before heading out to the cart.

16101 SE Division St
Portland, OR 97236

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