Sometimes, the best restaurants are those little places connected to gas stations. You know the ones: They’re always packed with cars, suggesting a cult-like following and unexpectedly delicious food waiting inside. You peer in the windows as you pass by, wondering if the food could possibly be any good.
Well trust us: Soul Heaven Cafe, a tiny restaurant connected to the Texaco at the intersection of Moffett Road and I-65, is a gas station gem that’s worth a pilgrimage.
Soul Heaven has a vast menu, but the daily buffet – which almost always features homemade chicken and dumplings, macaroni and cheese, greens, smothered chicken, liver and onions, fried okra and more – is the way to go. It’s delicious, affordable Southern soul food served up with a big ol’ smile.
Purple and gold swirls painted on the walls dress up the tiny restaurant, along with quotes about the importance of family. A jar where patrons can place change to help those in need and a courteous, friendly staff convey a sense of kinship and comfort.
All orders are served in three-compartment to-go trays, so Soul Heaven is a great option for a quick lunch break back at the office (and, better yet, they deliver), but taking the time to eat at one of the four small tables and chat with the precious staff is a valuable part of the experience.
On the Menu
Chicken and Dumplings
Soul Heaven posts its buffet offerings on its Facebook page daily, and chicken and dumplings is always an entree option. You’ll receive the perfect ratio of doughy dumplings and shredded chicken covered in a thick, salty broth that will warm your belly and your heart.
In this classic entree, a fall-off-the-bone leg quarter bathes in thick, brown gravy and sautéed onions, creating a rich, flavorful treat.
Broccoli and Cheese Casserole
Although broccoli is in the name, this side dish is anything but healthy — but it sure is tasty. Tender veggies, cheddar and rice combine to make a side that is every bit as delicious and filling as any entree.
To top off lunch, try a big slice of one of Soul Heaven’s cakes, which are baked fresh daily. The
strawberry cake is moist and has an understated sweetness, which pairs perfectly with the thick layer of sugary rose-hued frosting. In addition to homemade cakes, Soul Heaven also offers light and creamy banana pudding, rich, decadent cheesecake (above right) and several varieties of fruit-laced cobbler.
Soul Heaven Cafe • 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. M – F, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sa, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Su
3365 Moffett Road. 470-0852
text by Jill Clair Gentry • photos by Blair Abraham