Kevin Parker’s Soul Food Cafe – (Reading Terminal) Philadelphia, PA
Kevin Parker’s Soul Food Cafe (KP) at the Reading Terminal Market takes the spot formally held by Delilah’s Cafe who was there from 1984 until their sudden closure in 2012. Delilah’s Cafe was a media darling for a little while with the spotlight shining bright from a proclamation by Oprah Winfrey on her show “Oprah” that they had the best Mac and Cheese in America, but financial problems ruined their empire. With taking over this location KP has big shoes to fill, but Kevin Parker himself is no stranger to the high profile soul food scene with his already successful venture Ms. Tootsie’s Restaurant Bar Lounge on South Street.
The line at KP was brisk, but moved quickly and the new decor looked amazing and makes their location seem like a miniature restaurant inside the Reading Terminal which has added a nice flair not seen by other vendors. The order consisted of fried chicken, mac and cheese, and cabbage.
My first bite into the fried chicken was an immediate success. The meat was juicy, skin crisp yet loose, in every way cooked to perfection, and the seasoning was spot on. I do not know if I just got one of their best batches ever produced, but this was one of the best down home versions of fried chicken I have enjoyed in quite some time. With such a strong start I hoped for the trend to continue, but the sides just could not compete. They were both good, and slightly above average for each of them, but nothing really stood out about them. The cabbage was a little too crisp and under-seasoned for my tastes and the mac and cheese was a bit overcooked. Even with the sides deficiencies, the chicken really compensated for their downfalls. The price for the entire meal was about $15 which is a tad high for soul food compared to other locations around the city, but the other locations are not in the heart of the Reading Terminal.
KP has a good thing going in one of the greatest food terminals in the world, and if they focus some energy on their sides they could be one of the terminal’s must go to locations for any citizen or visitor of Philadelphia. They are a welcome addition to this storied locations legacy, and I hope they have just as long of a run if not longer than the previous tenant.