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Soul in a surf town

Fried pork chops bring out the pearly whites

Fried pork chops with rice and gravy, collard greens, corn muffin, and poundcake
Fried pork chops with rice and gravy, collard greens, corn muffin, and poundcake

If you’d told me two months ago I’d be sitting in a church banquet hall eating soul food, I’d have bet I was taking a trip to the South. Instead it was a short drive to Mountain View, just off the southwest corner of Mount Hope Cemetery. The room sits off to the side of Gospel Center Church of God. It’s a sparsely decorated space, mostly long, paper-topped common tables with a kitchen and service counter.

Place

Surf and Soul Spot

7229 El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego

Four days a week, Surf and Soul Spot takes over that kitchen, dishing up the likes of shrimp and grits, fried fish sandwiches, and a blackened shrimp and crab roll. It’s the kind of place you’re grateful for what you’re eating, even though you also covet your neighbor’s plate.

A soul food spot in a church banquet hall

Monday through Wednesday it’s all surf, with seafood, Caesar salad, and French fries, optionally smothered in turkey gravy. But after being closed Thursday, the Spot returns with Soul Fridays, adding fried catfish filets or fried chicken wings, along with a choice of two traditionally southern sides, typically baked mac and cheese, candied yams, and smoked turkey collard greens. All for $15.

The choices are tough enough without the daily specials cropping up, say fried pork chops served with rice and turkey gravy. I couldn’t not order these, to the chagrin of my doctor. But I earned a nod of approval from the friendly cashier, who told me, “You be sure to come back after eating it, so I can see the big smile on your face.”

You bet I did. Imagine you’re eating a delectably seasoned, batter fried chicken, then replace the chicken with the tenderest pork chops, and you’ll get why.

I dug in, between spoonsful of the savory turkey gravy rice, and the greens, served with smoky dark meat, a corn muffin, and pound cake for dessert. I washed the whole thing down with what they called an Archie Palmer: kind of like an Arnold Palmer, except instead of straight iced tea they blend sweet tea with lemonade.

I’ll remember to eat healthy at some other restaurant meal. At this spot, I’m all in on whatever needs to be done to make it taste this good. It looks like these guys will be moving to a new location in late October, and I won't consider it a hardship to check out that one for a surfy update.

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Fried pork chops with rice and gravy, collard greens, corn muffin, and poundcake
Fried pork chops with rice and gravy, collard greens, corn muffin, and poundcake

If you’d told me two months ago I’d be sitting in a church banquet hall eating soul food, I’d have bet I was taking a trip to the South. Instead it was a short drive to Mountain View, just off the southwest corner of Mount Hope Cemetery. The room sits off to the side of Gospel Center Church of God. It’s a sparsely decorated space, mostly long, paper-topped common tables with a kitchen and service counter.

Place

Surf and Soul Spot

7229 El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego

Four days a week, Surf and Soul Spot takes over that kitchen, dishing up the likes of shrimp and grits, fried fish sandwiches, and a blackened shrimp and crab roll. It’s the kind of place you’re grateful for what you’re eating, even though you also covet your neighbor’s plate.

A soul food spot in a church banquet hall

Monday through Wednesday it’s all surf, with seafood, Caesar salad, and French fries, optionally smothered in turkey gravy. But after being closed Thursday, the Spot returns with Soul Fridays, adding fried catfish filets or fried chicken wings, along with a choice of two traditionally southern sides, typically baked mac and cheese, candied yams, and smoked turkey collard greens. All for $15.

The choices are tough enough without the daily specials cropping up, say fried pork chops served with rice and turkey gravy. I couldn’t not order these, to the chagrin of my doctor. But I earned a nod of approval from the friendly cashier, who told me, “You be sure to come back after eating it, so I can see the big smile on your face.”

You bet I did. Imagine you’re eating a delectably seasoned, batter fried chicken, then replace the chicken with the tenderest pork chops, and you’ll get why.

I dug in, between spoonsful of the savory turkey gravy rice, and the greens, served with smoky dark meat, a corn muffin, and pound cake for dessert. I washed the whole thing down with what they called an Archie Palmer: kind of like an Arnold Palmer, except instead of straight iced tea they blend sweet tea with lemonade.

I’ll remember to eat healthy at some other restaurant meal. At this spot, I’m all in on whatever needs to be done to make it taste this good. It looks like these guys will be moving to a new location in late October, and I won't consider it a hardship to check out that one for a surfy update.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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