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In my 35 years, I have eaten my share of sweet potato pies! At birthday celebrations where Aunt Karen whipped up a cinnamon strong pie; or at the quintessential Black Thanksgiving where Grandma Juanita infused hers with a lemonier zest. They’re a staple during the church picnic where several pies adorn the food display table stanchioned past the lunch monitoring ushers, with flavors dancing along the spectrum of nuttiness to molasses kissed. I thought I’d experienced the sweet potato pie in just about every variation – that is until Miami Soul Café.
Located in the historic Bunche Park Plaza at 16194 NW 27th Ave, Miami Gardens, FL 33054, this small, diner style eatery shattered my sweet potato pie expectations of South Florida. Traveling throughout the United States, I have come across pure gold in the pie space. South Florida, unfortunately, is lacking in the sweet potato pie creativity area; with everyone seemingly using a template that yields the same flavor, consistency and sweetness.
Heritage establishments like Sweet Potato Sensations and Good Cakes and Bakes, both located in Detroit, have long ascended into Pie Olympus and are now looking down to earth after rumors of a potential brethren pie at Miami Soul Café.
I tried in vain to convince Chef Phillips to share one or two pie ingredients; so, instead, I ordered two more slices. Each slice fetches for only $4, so I couldn’t help myself. The pie is extremely airy and light. Unlike some other pies with custards dense enough to resemble Pumpkin Pie, this pie is in a league of its own. With hints of lemon zest, possibly coconut and of course the spiritual sweet potato. I was impressed, thankful, and proud of the construction of this pie and its availability daily! Get it served after being heated in the oven for full enjoyment.
Having dessert first can ruin your palate, so I decided to work my way back up with the Peach Cobbler Waffle ($7), a side of Peach Cobbler ($4), and Banana Pudding ($4). The Peach Cobbler Waffle was delicious. I loved the waffle’s consistency – a safe balance between soft and crunchy. Each dessert item was on point, but just couldn’t touch the sweet potato pie.
To bust up the sugar rush, I ordered the Fried Lobster and Waffle ($17) with a side of collard greens and mac and cheese. The lobster was fried to perfection with the flavor reminding you of its recent vacation to wash town where it was bathed in a scrumptious combination of egg, buttermilk, and seasonings, before going back home to the fryer. The lobster was tender, fresh and flavorful. I was very impressed with its consistency and ease of removing the protein from the shell.
Next, I ordered a Chicken Salad ($8) to prepare for a change up in flavor. The Chicken Salad was tasty, straight forward and to the point. It’s a salad. Now able to order an actual entrée, I went for the Oxtails and Grits ($12), served with two eggs and a biscuit (remind me to talk to you about these mofo biscuits). The oxtails were very good; cooked in an African-American gravy rather than a Jamaican or Caribbean flavor. The restaurant has African-American culinary staples that aren’t found in the area. The Buttermilk Fried Catfish with a side of eggs was delectable and nostalgic – reminding me of Summer cane pole fishing trips with my grandmother, only to return for an epic fish Fry Friday! The fish was extremely flavorful and had a consistent golden brown fried crust that was both crisp and crunchy.
At the table, next to ours, I happened to see a bowl of oatmeal ($4) and cup of coffee making its way out. Now, these weren’t just any oats. They were steel cut oats – which I love! I immediately dashed to my menu and ordered a bowl along with a cup of coffee! I ordered mine with strawberries, shaved almonds, raisins, a heap of brown sugar and butter! LORD HAVE MERCY is all I can say about that. DAMN GOOD!
Thus, far, I am happy with my experience at Miami Soul Cafe. I didn’t think things could get any better, that is, until I saw Chef Philips walking out with an omelet creation he had worked on and was excited to have me try. I now realized that the excitement was all mine as I devoured each particle of what I know now, is a one of a kind omelet. Stuffed with cream cheese and topped with huge heaps of fresh lobster meat, green onions, fresh cut tomatoes, and, at my request, spinach and sautéed mushroom, this omelet was beautifully presented and quickly became MY FAVORITE DISH at this quaint eatery.
Miami Gardens is known for its Jamaican and Caribbean inspired eateries, and Miami Soul Café is adding African-American cuisine to the culinary tapestry of this chocolate city! Wait, y’all really gonna sit here and let me close out without mentioning the biscuits? And I thought we were friends…THE BISCUITS! With each meal, you will receive a stunning plate of biscuits smothered in secret house honey butter.
Miami Soul Café receives The Hungry Black Man approval and I personally can’t wait to get my hands on that sweet potato pie just one more time. Owner Willis Howard has brought a new flavor and I’m liking it. Open Wednesday through Sunday and closed Monday and Tuesday, you can reach the restaurant at (305) 454-0403. Oh, and this is a purely brunch/lunch spot in that it closes at 3pm, so make sure you come early!