The Hungry Black Man Media has developed a deep appreciation for North Carolina’s burgeoning Black Food Scene. During our recent visit to JJ’s Mama’s Soulfood & More, situated at 601 W 5th Ave, Lexington, NC 27292, we were treated to an extraordinary culinary experience. Our dining journey commenced with one of three captivating dinner plates, the first featuring baked chicken, mac and cheese, and collard greens.
The standout of this ensemble was undoubtedly the tender and flavorful baked chicken, which exhibited such exquisite tenderness that I was able to separate the meat from the bone with a mere plastic spoon. The chicken was expertly seasoned, boasting a delightful blend of onion, black pepper, garlic, and just the right amount of salt, resulting in a memorable taste sensation. The side dishes were equally impressive, with the mac and cheese taking center stage, oozing with cheddar cheese goodness complemented by perfectly placed butter and salt. While the elbow pasta could have been slightly firmer, any minor quibble was swiftly forgotten in the face of the overwhelmingly delicious flavor of this nostalgic casserole. The collard greens, though well-prepared, lacked the customary smoky or slightly acidic vinegar notes that are typically associated with Southern cuisine, thanks to a proprietary seasoning employed by the chef. While this may deviate from expectations, it’s important to note that this divergence in flavor is not necessarily a negative one, merely distinct. I can envision a broad audience savoring these greens, though, as a purist, I found them to be just acceptable.
Our next dinner plate consisted of neckbones, spaghetti, and pinto beans. Allow me to emphasize that anyone familiar with Black American household cooking will understand the term “Black people spaghetti.” This dish epitomized the essence of that term. Generous quantities of American cheese, homemade marinara sauce, impeccably textured spaghetti pasta, and impeccably seasoned ground beef combined to create one of the most memorable spaghetti dishes I’ve encountered in my seven years as a food writer. Both the spaghetti and mac and cheese could easily stand alone as individual entrees due to their immensely delectable flavors and hearty portions. Regrettably, the pinto beans were overpowered by an intense seasoning, failing to achieve the desired tender consistency, and consequently, I was not a fan. Conversely, the neckbones were nothing short of heavenly. They were so tender and perfectly seasoned that they nearly resembled oxtails in their reception. I came perilously close to stripping every morsel of meat from the bones due to their outstanding flavor. These were some of the finest neckbones I’ve savored in recent months.
Last but certainly not least, we come to the true star of the evening – the oxtails. These oxtails beautifully merged the culinary traditions of both America and Jamaica. It was as if a Jamaican and Black American grandmother had joined forces to create a restaurant and harmoniously blended their oxtail recipes. The dish offered the umami richness of Jamaican tradition coupled with the robust, wintry stew depth and exquisitely tenderized texture characteristic of Black American cuisine. I dare say these oxtails were the best we’ve had anywhere in the state of North Carolina to date. The gravy was rich and savory, served atop fluffy, buttery rice, accompanied by sides of sweet potatoes with marshmallows, evoking fond Thanksgiving memories, and another serving of their mac and delectable cornbread.
This establishment holds a special place and is well worth the journey if you happen to be in any of the Triad cities. Furthermore, the plates are exceptionally substantial and affordably priced. The proprietor, an outstanding Black woman, takes immense pride not only in the culinary offerings but also in delivering exceptional customer service, a true embodiment of the Southern Hospitality ethos. We encourage you to reach out to them at (336) 843-2022 and share your thoughts on this remarkable dining experience.