clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
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/Eater Portland

11 Spots for Serious Soul Food in Portland and Beyond

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

View as Map
Fried chicken plate from Kee’s #Loaded Kitchen
| Ron Scott/Eater Portland

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.

Note: Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

Read More
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Riptz City Eats

Copy Link

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 dinnertime dine-in service, as well as takeout.

The Mac

Copy Link

Few side dishes are as reliably crowd-pleasing as mac and cheese — 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 food cart in Tigard 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 (when in season), steak, and brisket. Beyond the noodles, the Mac also serves fried or smoked chicken strips, standalone or in the form or sliders. Seating is minimal in this parking lot on Pacific Highway so be prepared to grab takeout.

A table full of dishes from The Mac, including mac and cheese topped with crab legs and beef, a side of fried shrimp, and a side of corn.
Dirty mac and cheese at The Mac.
The Mac

Trap Kitchen

Copy Link

Longtime Portlanders are naturally a little wary of Californians bearing gifts, but exceptions are enthusiastically made for Compton’s Trap Kitchen, which has taken Portland by storm in recent years — partially thanks to locals running the kitchen. From the initial East Portland cart to a new downtown location within the Roseland Theater, the inventive soul-fusion of chef Malachi “Spankihana” Jenkins and his acolytes have made old comfort favorites like chicken-and-waffles and catfish-and-fries as exciting to the taste buds as the popular pineapple bowls.

Southern Kitchen PDX

Copy Link

Discreetly tucked in a small, shady food pod at the southern end of the Mississippi main drag, Southern Kitchen lives up to the long tradition of soul food in the neighborhood, with a particular specialty in po’boys — offered with oysters, shrimp, or salmon. Portions are generous and the covered picnic seating is an ideal spot to polish off a basket of ribs before heading out to the bar or a concert at Mississippi Studios.

Erica's Soul Food

Copy Link

This bright yellow cart has only been in operation since the beginning of 2020, but it has already developed a stellar reputation for its boiled peanuts, catfish, and array of chicken wings. Many visit the cart for her chicken or vegan soy protein wings, be it buffalo bacon ranch or the ATL — Atlanta-style chicken wings in a saucy lemon-pepper glaze. All of the wings are fantastic, but an alternate move here is to go for the knockout smothered chicken in a deep mushroom gravy, with a few sides of collards and mac and cheese. Erica’s recently moved from Southeast 82nd to Northeast Russell — watch out for maps or guides with the old address. With frequent catering bookings, be sure to check the Instagram account before heading over.

Ja'Das Soulful Eatz

Copy Link

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.

Kee's #Loaded Kitchen

Copy Link

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.” While the location has changed over the years, 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. Kee’s is typically open Thursdays through Sundays, but is sometimes closed for catering bookings so check the Instagram account before heading over.

Verajames kitchen

Copy Link

This bright vermillion-hued cart sits just off of Killingsworth on Northeast 42nd Ave, where six days a week it slings barbecue ribs and chicken, deep-fried catfish, and a handful of sides, ranging from savory collard greens and smoky-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. Limited un-covered outdoor seating is available. When at the usual Killingsworth spot, Verajames is often open late.

Dirty Lettuce

Copy Link

Few culinary traditions are so deeply connected to animal proteins as soul food is to pork, chicken, shrimp, and catfish. Some might ask: is vegan soul food even possible? Dirty Lettuce proves the doubters more than wrong, with a dazzling selection of seitan ribs, seitan fried chicken, and konjac root shrimp alongside sides that highlight the rich vegetable-forward side of soul food, including collards, yams, and cauliflower. Carnivores might not find the same exact mouthfeel, but the taste and care that chef Alkebulan Moroski puts into every creation will have many returning for seconds.

V' Soul Food Shack

Copy Link

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. With no dedicated seating, plan to eat in your car or take your meal to go.

A basket of crispy breaded fried chicken.
Chicken basket at V’ Soul Food Shack.
V’ Soul Food Shack

Selena's Custom Kitchen

Copy Link

This seafoam green and lavender cart in the Argay neighborhood on Northeast Sandy Blvd opened in one of the toughest environments in the history of restaurants, July 2020. But Selena Taylor 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. 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. The star of the show here, however, is the warming and well-seasoned crawfish étouffée, served over white rice; it’s available on its own, in a kid’s meal with a side of juice, and in the the Selena Sampler — étouffée, fried basa, and fried salmon, with cornbread, mustard greens, and a choice of dessert.  

Riptz City Eats

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 dinnertime dine-in service, as well as takeout.

The Mac

A table full of dishes from The Mac, including mac and cheese topped with crab legs and beef, a side of fried shrimp, and a side of corn.
Dirty mac and cheese at The Mac.
The Mac

Few side dishes are as reliably crowd-pleasing as mac and cheese — 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 food cart in Tigard 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 (when in season), steak, and brisket. Beyond the noodles, the Mac also serves fried or smoked chicken strips, standalone or in the form or sliders. Seating is minimal in this parking lot on Pacific Highway so be prepared to grab takeout.

A table full of dishes from The Mac, including mac and cheese topped with crab legs and beef, a side of fried shrimp, and a side of corn.
Dirty mac and cheese at The Mac.
The Mac

Trap Kitchen

Longtime Portlanders are naturally a little wary of Californians bearing gifts, but exceptions are enthusiastically made for Compton’s Trap Kitchen, which has taken Portland by storm in recent years — partially thanks to locals running the kitchen. From the initial East Portland cart to a new downtown location within the Roseland Theater, the inventive soul-fusion of chef Malachi “Spankihana” Jenkins and his acolytes have made old comfort favorites like chicken-and-waffles and catfish-and-fries as exciting to the taste buds as the popular pineapple bowls.

Southern Kitchen PDX

Discreetly tucked in a small, shady food pod at the southern end of the Mississippi main drag, Southern Kitchen lives up to the long tradition of soul food in the neighborhood, with a particular specialty in po’boys — offered with oysters, shrimp, or salmon. Portions are generous and the covered picnic seating is an ideal spot to polish off a basket of ribs before heading out to the bar or a concert at Mississippi Studios.

Erica's Soul Food

This bright yellow cart has only been in operation since the beginning of 2020, but it has already developed a stellar reputation for its boiled peanuts, catfish, and array of chicken wings. Many visit the cart for her chicken or vegan soy protein wings, be it buffalo bacon ranch or the ATL — Atlanta-style chicken wings in a saucy lemon-pepper glaze. All of the wings are fantastic, but an alternate move here is to go for the knockout smothered chicken in a deep mushroom gravy, with a few sides of collards and mac and cheese. Erica’s recently moved from Southeast 82nd to Northeast Russell — watch out for maps or guides with the old address. With frequent catering bookings, be sure to check the Instagram account before heading over.

Ja'Das Soulful Eatz

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.

Kee's #Loaded Kitchen

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.” While the location has changed over the years, 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. Kee’s is typically open Thursdays through Sundays, but is sometimes closed for catering bookings so check the Instagram account before heading over.

Verajames kitchen

This bright vermillion-hued cart sits just off of Killingsworth on Northeast 42nd Ave, where six days a week it slings barbecue ribs and chicken, deep-fried catfish, and a handful of sides, ranging from savory collard greens and smoky-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. Limited un-covered outdoor seating is available. When at the usual Killingsworth spot, Verajames is often open late.

Dirty Lettuce

Few culinary traditions are so deeply connected to animal proteins as soul food is to pork, chicken, shrimp, and catfish. Some might ask: is vegan soul food even possible? Dirty Lettuce proves the doubters more than wrong, with a dazzling selection of seitan ribs, seitan fried chicken, and konjac root shrimp alongside sides that highlight the rich vegetable-forward side of soul food, including collards, yams, and cauliflower. Carnivores might not find the same exact mouthfeel, but the taste and care that chef Alkebulan Moroski puts into every creation will have many returning for seconds.

V' Soul Food Shack

A basket of crispy breaded fried chicken.
Chicken basket at V’ Soul Food Shack.
V’ Soul Food Shack

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. With no dedicated seating, plan to eat in your car or take your meal to go.

A basket of crispy breaded fried chicken.
Chicken basket at V’ Soul Food Shack.
V’ Soul Food Shack

Selena's Custom Kitchen

This seafoam green and lavender cart in the Argay neighborhood on Northeast Sandy Blvd opened in one of the toughest environments in the history of restaurants, July 2020. But Selena Taylor 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. 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. The star of the show here, however, is the warming and well-seasoned crawfish étouffée, served over white rice; it’s available on its own, in a kid’s meal with a side of juice, and in the the Selena Sampler — étouffée, fried basa, and fried salmon, with cornbread, mustard greens, and a choice of dessert.  

Related Maps