If your manners are a bit rusty, you'll reconnect with them shortly after walking into this Bronzeville restaurant located just steps from the 51st Street Green Line station. Barbara's Soul Food is the kind of place that encourages patrons to say, "yes, sir," "no, ma'am" and "pass the butter, please." And those manners will serve you well. The food is so good you'll be tempted to ask for seconds.
Owner and restaurant namesake Barbara Manley has been serving up tasty dishes here for "six, seven years, something like that," and she doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Walking into Barbara's takes you back to Sunday dinner with your grandparents. The kitchen and dining areas may look like they'll fall down on you at any moment, but you won't find a cleaner restaurant. No-frills comfort is the priority here. The walls of the dining room are painted a bright farmhouse red and peppered with dollar store artwork; Santa Claus placemats dot the Formica countertop, and you'll sink into the cushions of the benches at the dining booths. If Barbara's was located on the North Side, the atmosphere would be called "kitschy," at best. But this is Bronzeville, and thank goodness for that.
Barbara's serves up classic soul foodóribs, pork chops and turkey. Menu items, priced at $7-$8, are listed on carefully printed flash cards tacked to the wall separating the dining area from the kitchen. The must-have chicken noodle soup costs $2 and like every other dish, comes with an abundance of corn muffins. If you leave Barbara's hungry, you have only yourself to blame.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Chuck Sudo