Reading Terminal’s Newest Fried Chicken Addition/Addiction : KeVen Parker Soul Food Cafe

Today Luncher John forgets about calorie counting and checks out the fried fare at the new soul food spot in Reading Terminal

Last year’s demise of Delilah’s at Reading Terminal Market left a temporary void in soul food cuisine at the market. Fortunately for everyone, the KeVen Parker Soul Food Café now capably addresses the craving for good soul food. Opening up in January with a sleek, modern look in the exact same spot vacated by Delilah’s, the Soul Food Cafe takes up where its predecessor left off. KeVen Parker owns Ms. Tootsie’s on South Street, which is famed for its fried chicken, and he brings many of the same menu favorites to Reading Terminal.

As you place your order at the counter, you can peer through the glass and check out a lot of the selections on the menu. There’s a big pile of fried chicken along with pork ribs, catfish and tilapia. Traditional side dishes such as collard greens, okra, macaroni and cheese, as well as black eyed peas are also available.

Each entrée is accompanied by one side and a bread roll. There’s probably no better way to start than ordering Ms. Tootsie’s Award Winning Southern Fried Chicken with a side of the Cheesy Cheese Macaroni and Cheese ($10). When you order the chicken, you have your choice of different pieces, so I selected a breast and a leg. The breast piece was absolutely enormous. The skin was crisp, and there was terrific moisture in the meat. No less delicious was the mac and cheese. It lives up to its cheesy name and is, in some ways, reminiscent of the Delilah’s version (the one Oprah Winfrey thought was the best in the nation). Even the roll, with its honey butter glaze, hits the spot.

Next, I tried the fried tilapia with a side of the Crab Mac N’ Cheese Balls ($9). Similarly, you don’t get cheated on portion size. Both fish pieces were big servings by themselves. You can have a side of hot sauce, but you really don’t need it. The tilapia is fried, well seasoned and full of flavor without it.

What could possibly be better than the side of mac and cheese? The crab mac n’ cheese ball may do the trick. Each ball is delicate in texture and is essentially a combination of a crab cake stuffed with mac and cheese. It is preposterously good.

Any particular qualms with Soul Food Café? You probably can’t eat this wonderful food every day. Well you can, but it’s likely not the best thing for your waistline.

As a bonus, the Soul Food Café also has its own attached private seating area, replete with white upholstered seats and flower decorations on the tables. Anyone who goes to Reading Terminal often enough can appreciate the value of available seating. The staff will even remind those that sit down and bring food from other vendors that the area is reserved.

Go now to the KeVen Parker Soul Food Café. But for your own health, don’t go every day.

THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • Big servings of delicious, moist fried chicken.
  • Fantastic macaroni and cheese sides.
  •  Reserved seating area with white upholstered chairs.

THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • All the fried food probably isn’t healthy to eat every day.
  • A little pricey for lunch.

KeVen Parker Soul Food Café, Reading Terminal Market, 12th Street and Arch Street



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    The Mac & Cheese Index at RTM must be at its all-time high right now, no? Pickle Patch, Tootsie’s, Parker’s, Valley Shepherd, The Rib Stand, Original Turkey, Down Home Diner, Franks-a-Lot, and I’m sure missing at least one or two more…

  • I like the idea of doing a ranking… that might be too many calories for me to handle…. meh, I should just do it anyway.

  • Take one for the team, Jamie

  • I usually do

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    One I’ve tried is Pickle Patch’s, which I like to take home for a quick dinner every once in a while. I’m a fan. It’s got that old-school, cheese soup-ey, Kraft kinda feel to it. Tootsie’s offering is okay.

    I’d bet Parker’s is probably the best, but I don’t know when I’ll get around to trying it. I do intend to hit Rib Stand one of these years, too.

    Cajun Cafe has a cheesy pasta thing (with crab, I think?), as well, but that’s probably stretching the definition of ‘mac & cheese’ a bit too far.

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