For the last few months my pals Peter Engler and Rob Lopata have spearheaded an ambitious project: a survey of soul food joints, with a particular focus on the many little places that exist all over the south and west sides, quietly serving their neighbors with nary a mention in the media. I’ve been lucky enough to tag along on most of these forays, and so far I’ve been present for a few remarkable finds, one of which I wrote about in Omnivorous this week, recalling the momentous day when Peter found a place that sells Mississippi Delta-style hot tamales.

Another I’ve been meaning to write about for weeks is Doggy’s S.S. Soul Eatery. Rob ID’d this little place around Harrison and California months ago, and we’ve had a couple excellent lunches there that included giant, heaping plates of ham hocks, fried pork chops, short ribs, and a seasonal smothered rabbit special, all at extremely reasonable prices. For instance, a seemingly bottomless bowl of soupy chicken and dumplings, filled with big chunks of rangy meat, charts at a mere $4.50. The sides that come with these show a particular amount of care in the making: green, leafy stewed cabbage; tangy mac ‘n’ cheese with a thick, clingy sauce; candied yams with pronounced orange and cinnamon notes; spicy and slightly sweet greens; and caramely bread pudding that, along with corn muffins, arrives with each order. Even the sauces on some of the main dishes distinguish themselves–for example, the gravy on the rabbit has a particularly peppery bite (pix attached). 

There’s a lot of sports memorabilia on the walls, and someone has won some trophies racing cars. Each time we’ve visited, it’s been filled with old-timers sitting around shooting the shit and playing the dozens. Last time we were told that each day an old woman arrives around three in the morning and makes the day’s dishes. 

I wish I could give you a little more background than that. In person the operators are as nice as can be, but so far every time I’ve called up for a chat I’ve been offered a big bowl of “get lost.” According to a commemorative plaque on the wall they’ve been around since 2000, but as far as I can tell Doggy’s has been overlooked by every search engine, forum, and food writer in town. They’re obviously doing just fine without the help.

Doggy’s S.S. Soul Eatery, 2815 W. Harrison, 773-722-4037, Mon-Sat 7 AM-9 PM, Sun 7 AM-7PM