Soul food: It’s food from the soul, for the soul.
But only a handful of soul food restaurants can be found in Fort Pierce and Vero Beach.
Here’s where to find soul food on the Treasure Coast.
NuNu’s Sweet Soul Food
Patricia McNair Hearns started her Fort Pierce soul food with husband Robert and son Levie Dixon, eventually settling into a convenience-store parking lot at Delaware Avenue and South Seventh Street in January 2019.
In her travels to California, New York and Puerto Rico, she had learned about food trucks and wanted to bring that to her hometown.
“Things had died down with soul food,” Hearns said. “We didn’t have that many places open with soul food. We have a lot of Jamaican restaurants, barbecue restaurants and wings, but I wanted to do soul food because I wanted to bring that to the community.”
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Hearns kept the food truck and opened a brick-and-mortar store in the former location of Pam’s Food Hut, next to Dixie Cream Donuts, in August 2020.
She named the business after her other son’s nickname. Davonte “NuNu” Paschal, 23, died in 2016 after his vehicle went into a neighborhood lake in Indian River County. He had told rescuers to save his 2-year-old daughter first.
“I wanted to make sure my son was remembered,” Hearns said. “I wanted his name to carry on.”
Hearns puts her own twist on soul food. She uses natural herbs and doesn’t over-season her food. The menu always has soul food items — crunchy fried chicken, peach cobbler, strawberry cheesecake dessert cones — plus some Sunday-only specials.
“Soul food is something that came so deep from my family,” Hearns said. “Growing up, my mom always did it. My grandma always did it. My family members always did it.”
Kinfolk Southern Eats and Treats
When Fort Pierce native Willie Roundtree noticed a lack of places to find soul food in his hometown, he decided to open his own restaurant on North 25th Street in 2018.
“Bringing chitlins and oxtail and things of that nature was one of our top priorities,” he said.
The mouthwatering menu, which varies daily, has typical Southern foods and “soulfully Sunday” soul food specials. Main dishes include catfish, meatloaf, fried chicken, chicken and waffles and smothered pork chops. Sides include cornbread, fried okra, potato salad, green beans, collard greens, baked mac-and-cheese and fried green tomatoes. Desserts include peach cobbler, banana pudding, red velvet and lemon pound cake.
Roundtree opened Chicken and Waffle at Kinfolk in January 2021, hoping to give Lakewood Park residents a place where family and friends can come together for some old-fashioned comfort food. It has southern breakfast, lunch and dinner classics.
The fried seafood basket and the fried chicken — available in tenders, leg and thigh or breast and wing combos — are popular. Traditional side dishes include collard greens, mac and cheese, coleslaw and black-eyed peas. Desserts include a strawberry crunch cake or waffle cone for dessert.
Sugar & Spice Soul Food Restaurant
Sidney Ferguson, originally from Nassau, puts a Bahamian island twist on the Southern soul food he serves at the Fort Pierce restaurant he opened in the former location of longtime Votino’s Pizza Kitchen in November 2020.
Ferguson, who was a silent partner in another restaurant a few years ago, wanted his own first restaurant to be a nice, sit-down eatery where people could come after Sunday church service.
“I saw that there was a need for not just a soul food restaurant, but a good soul food restaurant — somewhere you would be proud to bring your family,” he said.
The menu has typical soul food and popular Southern dishes: oxtails, fried fish, fried chicken, smothered pork chops, candied yams, sweet potato pie and red velvet cake. He also serves some Bahamian favorites: conch fritters with seasoned rice and fried conch with sweet plantains.
Sir B Restaurant & Bar BQ
Winston and Rosene Brown opened their takeout restaurant with outside dining in Gifford in 2009 after she moved from Jamaica the previous year. Her son, Marlon Dayes, moved here the next year and helped her after his stepfather died in 2020.
The couple had started the restaurant because Winston had been in the industry and Rosene was a great cook, Dayes said.
“The food here is pretty authentic,” Dayes said. “All of our seasonings and everything, we basically get them from Jamaica.”
The biggest seller is oxtail, and people have driven from Melbourne, Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale to get it, Dayes said. The second-best seller is chitlins, which his mom had to learn how to make because it wasn’t something his family had back home in Jamaica. She also makes traditional Jamaican dishes, such as curry chicken and curry goat, and carries authentic Jamaican sodas.
“In Jamaica, we just call it ‘food’ for the most part,” Dayes said. “We come here, and we hear it’s called ‘soul food.’ ”
Laurie K. Blandford is TCPalm’s entertainment reporter and columnist dedicated to finding the best things to do on the Treasure Coast. Follow her on Twitter @TCPalmLaurie and Facebook @TCPalmLaurie. Email her at [email protected]. Sign up for her What To Do in 772 weekly newsletter at profile.tcpalm.com/newsletters/manage.
This article originally appeared on Treasure Coast Newspapers: Southern flavor finds: Soul Food can be found at these local eateries