Chef Richard Ingraham, Dwyane Wade’s personal chef, and Shannon Allen, wife of former NBA great, Ray Allen, have teamed up to create a tasty new concept for the burgeoning organic food market. Grown Southern is a 100 percent organic spin on soul food classics. Located at 8211 S Dixie Hwy, Miami, FL 33143, it’s the only USDA-certified organic fast-food restaurant with a drive-thru on the east coast.
Allen may be known for many other hats including R&B star, mother of six, and the wife of former NBA superstar Ray Allen, but I have come to know her as a kind, concerned, and dedicated businesswoman who has a passion for Black people and our health.
When her son was diagnosed with Type I diabetes at an early age, Shannon decided that she would take control of this diagnosis by providing her son and others with health challenges, “real food, cooked slow, for fast people.”
Every entrée meshes with the farm-to-table concept with organic, local, and sustainable ingredients that provide her new Grown Southern menu with quality ingredients while staying true to the culture.
I ordered just about everything and will highlight those items that I absolutely loved! For starters, the smoothies and all natural cold pressed juices are AMAZING! Every smoothie I tried was nutritious, delicious and created from organic and whole foods like fruits, vegetables, yogurt, and healthy fats. Sugar is replaced with nutrient-dense ingredients that aid in digestion. Yeah, I did my research after having a long conversation with the owner, who is determined that I not become The HUNGRY BLACK FAT MAN.
My favorite was the LOVE GREENS smoothie, which happened to also be the healthiest. It contains enough veggies to meet your daily veggie intake after downing just one glass! I’ve had tons of smoothies in my lifetime, but these are unique in taste, texture, and nutrition for just about any smoothie snob to sing their praises.
I had a blast with the cold press juices when I sipped on the Good Morning Sunshine, created with fresh veggies, fruits, and BEETS! Yes, I hated beets at one point, but now, I LOVE THEM! This juice was so refreshing and tasty that I ended up having two with my meal. Their smoothies and juices are an entire business concept in and of itself. Each juice and smoothie had been crafted specifically with health and flavor in mind leaving me feeling refreshed, revitalized, and reenergized.
Now for what you came here for – THE FOOD! I know a thing or two about chicken and waffles so that was my first stop. Having visited hundreds of restaurants across the country, I can write a book about the best chicken and waffles, and Chef Richard Ingraham’s version would be featured prominently because he truly outdid himself with this one.
Contrary to popular belief, the classic soul food entree was not birthed in the south, but up north in the Wells Supper Club in Harlem during the 1930s. Today, this combo has become the ubiquitous calling card for Black brunches everywhere. Grown’s delicious version isn’t an authentic Belgian with crisp sides and a bit airy, but rather more like pancakes that have been cooked in a waffle iron. The texture is soft and fluffy, perfect for the syrup to saturate it while picking up a nice cut of the OUTSTANDING fried chicken. Get ready for a gastronomic explosion of soulful goodness! I can’t praise Chef Ingraham enough for this outstanding plate, which is now my favorite chicken and waffle dish in Miami. Yeah, I liked it that much.
Speaking of his fried chicken, chef wasn’t playing games with none of us when he created an exceptional fried chicken sandwich! This sandwich was good as hell with its soft buns, crispy, perfectly flavored fried chicken with pickles and a delectable homemade sauce. It runs circles around Popeye’s sub-par sandwich and made me seriously question why someone had not told me about this sandwich sooner.
For my vegan folk, there’s an amazing smoked jackfruit BBQ chicken sandwich that was giving me all sorts of life!
My second favorite dish is chef’s rendition of Forest Gump’s pal, Benjamin Buford “Bubba” Blue’s famous fried shrimp. Good God, they were delicious. I paired the dish with their sautéed broccoli in garlic and this amazing rice called “Jagacita,” a Cape Verdean red beans and rice dish with sausage and flavors reminiscent of a jambalaya I had back in 09’ from a 78-year-old grandma when I attended the National Conference of Black Mayors in Baton Rouge.
Moving along we had the chicken tortilla soup. Listen to me, that soup was AMAZING! It’s ultra-hearty with chipotle peppers adding a nice smoky flavor, while the jalapeños add a bit of heat. If you order this, make sure you pair it with something light because it’s filling and addictive.
As we were discussing the scrumptiousness of the soup, my nephew and cameraman randomly came outside with the menu yelling “they have pancakes,” which I didn’t order it because they looked too healthy being gluten free and all. Well, I must admit that would have been a mistake because they did not taste gluten free. They were not huge fluffy pancakes, but rather thin and soft with a beautiful texture almost resembling a flattened British pancake. I would order the pancakes with their rich, thick and tasty acai bowl for a bountiful breakfast.
I’m planning another visit to cover their vegan and healthy options, especially after having the salad on the Grown Southern menu. After informing Mrs. Allen that I’m not a salad fan, she assured me I’d like the Table Salad and man was she not capping at all! It was so good I ate it in like 2 minutes, licking the dressing from my fingers. You can get it without proteins like I did or with chicken, shrimp, or vegan proteins. I would probably be mad unhealthy and put fried chicken with it. Don’t judge me.
Grown Southern was a hit for me. The menu was created with health consciousness in mind, but also for foodies. Sometimes you want to just enjoy your meal, judgement free, and fully enjoy the nostalgia of grandma’s cooking. The cuisine here manages to accomplish grandma’s cooking without the heaviness while embracing a complete organic menu all the way down to the seasonings. Oh, I almost forgot! The Blackened Salmon was another hit along with their homemade desserts.
Mrs. Allen is one of the most beautiful souls I have met in a long while. I observed her being a whole Black Momma to her five boys then immediately transforming into a restaurateur as she assisted her staff in beaming out meals and troubleshooting various administrative tasks while we dined.
She and her staff received our party warmly and displayed exceptional customer service. I especially liked that the general manager of the store was a sista, an indication of this brand’s full embrace of diversity and inclusion.
You will not be disappointed when visiting Grown for any of the entrees we sampled. If you’re being safe and socially distancing, opt for the drive thru when placing your order and experience where health and southern flavor intersect.
Visit their website at grown.org or call (305) 663-4769.