Martha Williams of Norfolk, Va., leafs through Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time, by Adrian Miller, while having lunch at Florida Avenue Grill May 4, 2014, in Washington, D.C. Williams was in town visiting grandson Andrew Boyd Jr., who attends Howard University, and asked him where to go for some good soul food.NICOLE L. CVETNIC/THE ROOT

Though the term “soul food” gained popularity in the 1960s, the cuisine has been a part of African-American culture for centuries, and it seems the restaurant industry has taken note. That means there are plenty of options—and plenty of ways to make the wrong meal choice.

Don’t miss out on some of the best eats around. If your summer travels take you to any of these cities, pay a visit to the tried-and-true local food joint and get yourself some delicious food! You won’t be disappointed.


Busy Bee

810 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive SW

Atlanta, GA 30314


An Atlanta tradition since 1947, it is considered one of the last of the old-school, true Southern restaurants. Started by Lucy Jackson, a self-taught cook, the restaurant has a menu that features customer favorites like fried or smothered chicken, chitlins, barbecued spareribs and smoked ham hocks.

Charleston, S.C.


Martha Lou’s Kitchen

1068 Morrison Drive

Charleston, SC 29403


Located north of downtown Charleston, this tiny, unmistakable pink shack is known to lure in locals with its low country soul food favorites like fried chicken, butter beans, mac and cheese and sweet tea. Owner Martha Lou Gadsden started the tiny diner more than 30 years ago simply because she had been raised in the restaurant business.

Charlotte, N.C.

Mert’s Heart and Soul

214 N. College St.

Charlotte, NC 28202


James Bazzelle, a native of Athens, Ga., opened Mert’s in 1998 with his wife, Renee, after a long history in the food industry. The restaurant distinguishes itself from a traditional soul food joint by also offering low country and Gullah-inspired dishes. Word on the street is the corn bread is to die for.

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