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Powell’s Place

New Home, Same Soul

The home of great, greasy fried chicken and fixings has moved to the lower Fillmore district (now renamed the Fillmore Jazz District) from its former haunt in Hayes Valley. I, for one, am excited to know the soul food spot is now mere blocks from my doorsteps.

The new and improved Powell’s Place now resides in a more roomy and airy space lit by fan lamps with windows framing a large dining room, appended by a smaller den great for a Sunday night family dinner. The hanging gospel record covers are gone and in their place are framed photographs of Emmitt Powell proudly standing next to local celebrities. The same jukebox plays from a selection of gospel, jazz, and soul. (Luther Vandross crooned on this particular evening.) The added dash of sophistication is noticeable but has not changed the charm and honesty of Powell’s Place.

On a recent evening, we were welcomed with right-out-of-the-oven corn muffins at our table. Our server was friendly and helpful and suggested the hushpuppies. We started with the fried okra ($3.50) and Cajun hushpuppies ($3.50). The coin-sized okras were fried to a nice crisp. However, the hushpuppies -- fried balls of cornmeal with green onion and seasoning -- were the standout. It would be wise to order the okra or the hushpuppies, but not both as it is a bit too much cornmeal to down in one sitting.

Though Powell’s Place prides itself on its “award-winning” fried chicken, other dishes steal the spotlight. Nightly rotating specials include oxtails, beef short ribs, and beef brisket. We eyed the Cajun jambalaya, but opted for the fried catfish ($14.50) and some fried chicken a la carte. The chicken was a bit dry; however, the catfish was delectable. The cornmeal crust, fried to a light crisp brown, contrasted nicely with the delicate, moist fish. It’s surprising more restaurants don’t offer the palate-pleasing catfish.

Our side of creamy macaroni and cheese was simple and full of cheddar flavor -- exactly what you would expect from your mom’s kitchen. The green beans were nicely accented with a hint of chili. We were pondering if desserts were necessary when our friendly server informed us that the peach cobbler ($4.50) had just come out of the oven; our decision was made. The cobbler was a perfect mix of crust soaked in syrupy peach with notes of vanilla.

When it's stick-to-your-bones food you want, Powell’s Place is the place to be. A new home and a little sprucing up hasn’t changed it one bit. And that’s the way we like it.

Be sure to check out Powell’s Place on Sunday night for the Sunday Night Gospel Buffet from 7pm-9pm.

Soul Food
Western Addition