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The Dish
Lillie Mae's House of Soul Food
By April J. Jones

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Lillie Mae's House of Soul Food is a little bit of southern heaven right here in Santa Clara. If you like southern food like I do, mosey on over to Coleman Avenue and ask Chefs Rhonda and Marcus to whip you up a generous platter of comfort food. The down-home smoky barbecue smell fills the rustic-style dining room.

At House of Soul, the meats are smoked daily. The beef brisket and pork ribs boast tender cuts of flavorful meat and moderately spicy barbeque sauce spiked with just the right amount of brown sugar. The catfish is dipped in a tasty beer batter and fried to a flaky golden crisp. The fish inside is light and flaky. The tender barbeque chicken falls apart to the touch and has a lovely pink color.

The southern-style baked beans are made with brown sugar and large chunks of tender beef. The creamy potato salad is made with mustard to give it just the right kick and the sweet potato fries are deep orange and crispy. Oh and if you are interested in macaroni and cheese, be sure to come early. They sometimes run out by 8pm. That may be partly due to the fact that they make it from scratch right there on the premises or it could simply be that the generous amounts of cheese is baked to a crusty perfection and creates a lovely stringy mess on the way from the fork to the mouth. The spicy collard greens are slow-wilted to perfection and cooked in a savory broth.

No good southern meal is complete without bread. Some chefs errantly assume that southern cornbread is sweet, but not Rhonda and Marcus. Although us southerners love to cook with sugar, we know that true cornbread can stand on its own. The large hush puppies are soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside.

And although the corn bread is not sweet, the desserts are. Lillie Mae's scream-in peach cobbler will satisfy even the most insatiable sweet tooth. Large slices of savory peaches, along with generous strips of cobbler-style bread swim in a cinnamon-laced syrup. For even more sugar satisfaction, ask for any dessert with a generous dollop of vanilla ice cream on top.

If you are in a hurry, House of Soul is the place for you. When you arrive, your order is placed at the counter before you take a seat. It is moderate to loud in the dining room with sports playing on the TV while orders are given out over a microphone. Outside patio seating is available to those who prefer a more private affair, however. There is plenty of parking in the ample lot on the corner of Coleman Avenue and Brokaw Road, which is near 880 and Costco Warehouse.

Lillie Mae's House of Soul Food
(408) 227-7685
1290 Coleman Ave.
Santa Clara, CA 95050
Entrées range from $10 - $17

Note: All reviews are conducted anonymously and are typically based on one visit. The Santa Clara Weekly pays for all meals. For comments, questions or suggestions, email April Jones at AprilJanetJones@yahoo.com

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