Soul Food in Oakland, California

Does anyone travel out of the country for Thanksgiving? In 2011, I traveled to Ghana. Instead of eating traditional food, I had a tuna sandwich and chips. I vowed to never be away for Turkey day! I was only fooling myself, in 2017 I booked another trip out of the country.

Although my food this year was a bit better, I missed all the homemade Thanksgiving food like Turkey, dressing, mac and cheese, cabbage, potato salad, ham etc. I told my mom to freeze some turkey day leftovers so that I could enjoy when I returned back to the USA. (Oh don’t tell me I’m the only one that enjoys leftover food!) Anyhow, due to missing traditional Thanksgiving food, I was on the hunt for some good soul food in Oakland. So I checked out 3 different soul food restaurants in Oakland Ca.

Brown Sugar Kitchen

Address: 2534 Mandela Pkwy, Oakland, CA 94607

Ambiance: I was grateful that they opened up at 7 am in the morning because I was able to go before my work training began. I enjoyed the ambiance, it felt cozy and they were playing one of my favorite neo-soul music artist Lauren Hill on the radio.

Food:  I ordered the chicken and waffles but sadly I didn’t enjoy my meal. They use cornmeal batter to make the waffle. I was looking for something light and fluffy instead I received thin and grainy due to using cornmeal as an ingredient. The waffle came with apple cider vinegar syrup. Sometimes restaurants try to be different and make meals fancy. In this case, I  would have preferred plain old maple syrup. The chicken was just alright, nothing to write home about.

Waffle & Chicken w/ Apple Cider Vinegar Syrup 

My co-worker ordered the shrimp and grits. She reported it was good but she would have preferred a thicker consistency of grits.

Shrimp & Grits

Price:  It was expensive, we paid about $26 each for our respective meal.

Recommendation: Would I go back?? I would go back and try a different dish. Everybody deserves a second chance!

Rating:  1 thumb


Lena’s Soul Food

Address: 1462 High St, Oakland, CA 94601

Ambiance: It reminds me of a mom and pop restaurant.

Food: The waiter reported that the turkey wings were good. I ordered the turkey wings that were so tender they fell off the bone. You know when they fall off the bone, they are delicious. Red Beans and rice, dressing and gravy were delicious. The mac and cheese could use some work. My first bowl was not creamy and the second bowl was too creamy.

Turkey Wings
 Red beans & Rice, Mac & Cheese, Dressing & gravy, Cornbread

Don’t forget to try the fried lobster.

Fried Lobster

Price: 14.99 for an entree and includes 2 sides and a cornbread muffin.

Recommendation: I would definitely eat here again. Food was good, service was quick and the waitress was very friendly. I also hear that they give the leftover food to those in need after the restaurant is closed. Kudos to Lena’s for helping the less fortunate.

Rating: 2 Thumbs up


Southern Cafe

Address: 2000 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland, CA 94602

Ambiance:  Family Style restaurant, great place to feed the entire family.

Food: I ordered the catfish, macaroni & cheese, red beans & rice, cabbage and cornbread. Everything was really good. Catfish was fried to perfection and was hot out of the grease. I’m skeptical about ordering cabbage at a restaurant but the cabbage was seasoned very well.   The mac & cheese was great and had just the right amount of cheese.

Fried Catfish, Red beans & Rice, Mac & Cheese, Cabbage, Cornbread

Recommendation: I would highly recommend this restaurant. The only drawback of this restaurant is the amount of time it took to receive the food. We waited for over an hour to eat.

Rating: 2 Thumbs and a Toe (they put their foot in the food)

Have you tried any great soul food restaurants in Oakland that we could add to the list??


  1. Apple cider vinegar syrup? That’s…..interesting. LOL! I do love the photos of the other food, and listen, cabbage and me get along well. If a soul food restaurant can’t cook cabbage, they can’t be considered a part of the fold!

    • Right, very interesting that is the same thing I said, when I saw the color (it looked very cloudy). Yes, I now love cabbage (as a child not so much) I agree cabbage is up there with mac& cheese, dressing and potato salad.

  2. I love these quick, to-the-point reviews. Let’s me know exactly what I’m looking for in a review right away. Those chicken and waffles sound so weird. I love using apple cider vinegar for just about everything from face toner to meat marinate, but I would never put it in syrup! 0_0 Very interesting.

    • Thank you Brigid, I struggle with writing quick reviews because I’m a story teller at heart. I do recognize that some people like straight to the point reviews. Yes very weird, I think its to much, sometimes less is more. Thank you for your comment 🙂

  3. I’m not the biggest soul food fan (yes I relinquished my ‘card’ a long time ago hahaha) but these dishes all look great. Especially the chicken and waffles, that’s my go to!

    • LOL its ok, certain soul food dishes I don’t eat like yams and greens, and sweet potato pie, so my card may be partially revoked. Yeah I like Chicken Waffles from our local restaurant. Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles.

  4. Southern Cafe looks and sounds the best to me mainly because of the mac and cheese! And fried lobster?? Didn’t know that was a thing, so I’d have to check out that spot as well!

  5. I’m from Caribbean so growing up I always traveled during thanksgiving. I like doing things untraditionally. The fried chicken and waffles looks delish!

  6. I tried soul food in New Orleans and I have never doubt that it is such a wonderful experience and at the same time nostalgic. I can’t wait to visit the states again soon.

Please tell us your thoughts

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.