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.
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.