When The Grub Spouse and I pulled into the parking area at Olive Street Soulful Market & Deli, we saw puffs and curls of white billowing from the outdoor smoker. When we got out of the Grubmobile, the smells only quickened our footsteps to this neighborhood store and eatery, which is about a block north of 5th Avenue.
Inside, the owner greeted us and introduced himself and his wife, and I’m sorry to say the names went in one ear and out the other, as I already had my nose buried in the handout menu.
Soul food is certainly well represented by a lineup of items that can be served either on a bun or on a plate with sides. Dishes include pulled pork and chicken from smoker, fish, ribs, chicken and dumplings, ham hocks, fried green tomatoes and wings. You’ll also find several sandwiches like tuna, hoagies, bologna and chicken salad as well as a selection of burgers and hot dogs.
The owner had just pulled a batch of smoked turkey from the grill, and he let me sample a taste. The moist morsel was full of flavor, and it sold me on ordering a sandwich made with the same ($7.99). The menu doesn’t specify that sides are included with sandwiches, but he asked me what I wanted as a side, so I ordered potato salad. Turned out, it wasn’t available that day, but he had made a batch of macaroni and cheese, which I did not see listed on the menu. That sounded fine to me.
The Spouse ordered the meatloaf platter ($10), which comes with two sides. The Spouse chose okra and cole slaw (which isn’t mentioned on the menu either). For the record, the other sides listed include pinto beans, baked beans, corn, green beans, yams, collard greens, cabbage, potatoes and onions, mashed potatoes, French fries and chili cheese fries.
While we were learning what was and wasn’t available and debating our choices and placing our order, other customers came in, a couple of whom were not wearing masks, despite clearly displayed signs requiring mask usage. (The owners did wear masks.) The market is a cozy space, and there wasn’t room for us to comfortably distance ourselves from unmasked patrons, so we waited in the car for our food to be prepared. It took a little longer than we expected, but at the time, the owner was handling all the cooking duties by himself and suddenly had a rack full of lunch orders.
I went back in to get our meals, grab a couple of drinks from the cooler and pay at the counter. After exchanging Happy New Year greetings with the owner’s wife (It was New Year’s Eve), I retreated to the Grubmobile to chow down (There’s no inside seating anyway).
This was good stuff. The smoked turkey sandwich was on the money — tasty meat, fresh buns, tangy Carolina-style sauce. The meatloaf was good and hearty too, and all the sides held up well. The mac and cheese was a little denser and dryer than I typically find, but it was plenty cheesy and a larger serving than I could handle. Fried okra fans should be happy with what’s on the menu, and the finely chopped cole slaw was delightful.
They serve a rotating array of desserts daily, but about the only thing available to us at the time was the very last serving of banana pudding. The Spouse and I loved it, from the creamy filling to the soft banana wafers to the whipped cream. If another serving had been in the cooler, I would have gone back in and snatched it up.
If you appreciate a plateful of home-cooked soul food, I recommend trying Olive Street Soulful Market & Deli. But my advice would be to either go to their Facebook page or call them to find out exactly what is and isn’t available that day. Then place your order by phone, and go pick it up, especially since you can’t dine there anyway. At least your taste buds will be rewarded for your effort.
Olive Street Soulful Market & Deli
Address: 514 Olive St.
No alcohol service
Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and Sundays
Soul-food fans should enjoy what’s cooking at this neighborhood market and deli.