Home Food Soul Bowl Cafe in Fort Myers is Joyful

Soul Bowl Cafe in Fort Myers is Joyful

Meatloaf with Mac-n-cheese, lima beans and corn bread
Soul Bowl Cafe

Soul food has its beginnings in the Southern United States. I like to think of it as food from the cultural soul of this area. Its beginnings were really with native American Indians. Corn and wild game were a big part of their diet. This cuisine was adopted in some form or fashion by many early foreign immigrants to this area and the slaves they brought with them. The corn, so prevalent in the Indian diet, gave way to cornbread, grits, hush puppies (fried cornbread) and batters for frying.

Frying was a cooking method popular before the advent of refrigeration. Again, as did Native Americans, animals were consumed in their entirety. This gave way to dishes made from intestine (Chit’lins), pig feet and skin. Animal fat was commonly used for cooking.

Inside dining

With many people migrating to the northern United States over time from this area, soul food, as with all foods, brought people together through cultural bonds and memories of home. I spent a good part of a decade in Mississippi pursuing a graduate degree. During that time I fell in love with Southern cooking; aka soul food, and missed it when it was not readily available. I was pleased to see a restaurant recently opening locally that features this type of cuisine.

Soul Bowl Cafe (SBC) has been open for about six weeks. It is located across from the Fleamasters Fleamarket in Fort Myers in a building that is extremely minimalist. Most of the food is served in varying sized bowls.

However, in the area it is in, it works very well. As my grandmother told me, “don’t judge a book by its cover.” As usual, grandmother was right. Some very good cooking is to be had at SBC. The restaurant is a family business, owned by Wayne and Iris Outten and joined by their daughter Maya and son Malik.  Wayne and Iris both have expertise in the food industry and a wealth of soul food family recipes.

Sample Sunday Dinner Menu

My dining companion and I went there on a Sunday. Unknown to us then, they only served a limited menu on Sundays. Here was the Sunday dinner menu that day though it changes weekly.

We asked what the soul bowl was, otherwise known as the soul bag on the menu. “Plenty of pig parts” was the reply, and we were asked if we wanted a sample. How could I say no? It was really good, but thinking of what was in store, we switched gears. Although plentiful in this dish, we simply did not have the “guts” to be culinary adventurers that day. As such we went for the other two menu selections.

My dining companion chose the meatloaf. A very generous serving was set atop a mashed potato base and smothered with gravy. It was excellent. I noticed the mashed potatoes were not entirely mashed, the odd chunk of potato turning up. This was a very good sign and reminded us this stuff was made in house from “scratch”.

The mac and cheese was simple, but also very good. The lima beans served here were exceptional, their starchy creaminess accentuated by the pork fat used to cook them with. The corn bread served was not the best I have had, but good.

Turkey wing dinner with fried okra and collard greens

I went for the turkey wing with gravy. This was another excellent dish, served atop rice. I decided to try fried okra and greens as my sides, and both were exceptional. The okra, coated with a corn meal batter, was perfectly seasoned and cooked. A bite into them yielded a crunchy texture followed by the flavor of okra. The collard greens, cooked to perfection, had that slight bitterness offset by the pork fat used to cook them with. Highly recommended.

We split a piece of key lime cake as a dessert. Although I was disappointed to find out this was not made in house, it was not bad, obviously made on a small scale and for $2.00, a bargain. I don’t think you can get a corporate made dessert at a convenience store for that.

The service here was very good, and the owner and employees very friendly. Should you not want to eat in house, take out is available as well.

The food ordered that day definitely brought me back to my days in the deep south and was as good as I remembered it. I think we had a very good sampling of the side dishes offered here which were all excellent to exceptional. Our main dishes were also excellent, I cannot wait to go back and try more of them. Not only is the food here very reasonably priced, but it seems to have more soul than it can control!

That’s that for another post on Forks.

Soul Bowl Cafe

3802 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Fort Myers, FL 33916

(239)332-0708

Soul Bowl Cafe Facebook Page

Hours:  Closed Mondays; Tuesday-Friday, 6 AM-4PM; Saturday, 8AM-7PM; Sunday, 8AM-5PM; Breakfast served till 11 AM.

Kids meals not available;  All major credit cards accepted.

Peter Horan, Southwest Florida Forks, posted on SouthFloridaReporter.com, Mar. 2, 2018

More food reviews on Southwest Florida Forks

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