If cameraman Korey (@KoreyDavisPhotography) doesn’t shoot it, I won’t eat it.
South Florida has a serious challenge when it comes to finding authentic African-American cuisine, also referred to as “Soul Food.” When you do find a half way decent spot, you usually have to deal with challenges not experienced outside of South Florida. On top of that, you usually get seasonings like BADIA and Goya, which are not traditional seasoning for fried or baked chicken, smothered pork chops, Gumbo, Jambalaya, okra and collard greens.
Sticking to the seasoning base of salt, black pepper, lemon, cumin, coriander, and a few others, is what created African –American cuisine as we know it today. Many of these flavors have West African origins as well. However, European and Native Americans greatly influenced African-American cuisines as our ancestors were the first “culinary-fusion” pioneers.
Cornbread is a prime example. This is the result of Native American tribes accepting many escaped slaves into their tribes, innovating on their love of corn, to produce one of Soul Food’s most identifiable staples. I can go on and on, but we will save the history lesson for another article. I was told about Magic Soul Food from my sister who is an amazing cook. She owns a catering company, “Juanita’s Kitchen” who is definitely an ardent follower of true African-American culinary tradition. If she recommends that I try a Soul Food spot, I know it’s going to be Fire! So the Hungry Black Man Team journeyed to the beautiful City of Pembroke Pines and found a hidden gem called Magic Soul Food that makes an effort to be true to African-American cooking traditions.
Magic Soul Food is the only exclusive African-American cuisine restaurant in Pembroke Pines, located at 11244 Pines Blvd, Pembroke Pines, FL 33026. Because Broward County definitely suffers from a lack of Soul Food restaurants, it’s fitting that one of its few would be absolutely delicious.
Owner and operators Chef Shawn Williams and his beautiful wife Chef Rashonda Perry are some of the most affable and polite chefs I’ve ever met. (I know I’m stereotyping, but in my experience, most chefs are arrogant and can’t take criticism.) This couple destroyed my ignorant beliefs! Upon entering, their staff was courteous and extremely welcoming. I was starving and needed something right away before my interview with them, so I put in an order of Chicken Wings ($6.00) tossed in their house sauce, coined “Magic Sauce.” These wings were excellent! Just imagine sweetened Peri Peri Wings, and that pretty much sums up the taste. For those of you who have never had Peri Peri Wings, its chicken grilled and covered in a sauce with origins in Africa coated with garlic, peppers, and spices! These are definitely a MUST HAVE if you’re in the mood for wings. I got mine fried and breaded because I didn’t give a damn at that point. I know I should have stuck to the African tradition and requested grilled, but I was weak. Don’t judge me.
Next, I continued to ignore all health concerns and ordered the Fried Pork Chop Dinner ($12.95), which was served with two side items. I choose to sample the mash potatoes, sweet corn, and string beans. For starters, the pork chop was seasoned very well and had an excellent texture. Not too soft, and not too crispy. The cut was bone in and thin, which gave it additional flavor. The mash potatoes were freshly mashed and salted to a pleasing balance. I would recommend that you ask for gravy if you order the mash potatoes, because Chef Williams informed me AFTER THE FACT, that they have phenomenal homemade gravy. The string beans and corn were just acceptable.
Following the delicious pork chop, I ordered the Glazed Salmon and Shrimp Platter ($17.95), which comes with two sides. The salmon was scrumptious and cooked to a perfect texture of softness, but total removal of pink, covered in a tasty Asian inspired glaze accompanied with their homemade mac and cheese, which was Black Thanksgiving worthy. Although a little on the salty side, their collard greens would receive Grandma’s approval. The maple glazed yams were off the chain.
If you think this meal couldn’t get any better, you’re wrong! Chef, his lovely wife and business partner, and Brenda, the lovable cashier joined me for a bite. While at the table, I noticed the large slices of cornbread coming out the kitchen. He was gracious enough to provide 3 slices! I felt like the Hebrews, when God provided mana for them in the wilderness! This was one of the most tasty sweet style cornbread in South Florida. I was able to combine it with my collards and the salty sweet balance had me go into prayer.
“Father God, thank you for your bountiful blessings and the sacrifices of my ancestors to have created this subsidence that will give me the strength to continue my quest of finding the most amazing Black, Female, and minority owned eateries in this great world you’ve created, Amen”
Moving along, I ordered the most recognizable brunch combinations around, Fried Chicken and Waffles ($8.95). You know I had to get it. As it was delivered to the table, you could smell the freshly made waffle. I have eaten so many Fried Chicken and Waffles combinations, I felt upset with myself for ordering something so routine, but how WRONG WAS I! Magic Soul Food has a simply delectable waffle. It’s homemade from the flour, eggs, and all, no pre mix bull@%$#. It was soft with just the right amount of crispiness and an amazing taste. Again, I’m thinking about how blessed I am to have the opportunity in discovering these little gems. For me, everything here was pretty good, but the waffle was my favorite.
It’s one of those items that’s so simple, but done so right, that you keep coming back for it again and again. The fried chicken had a great outside crust that was crispy and not too greasy with a nice mild flavor. I would probably eat it with the waffle like a sandwich covering it in syrup. Yes Lord. I’m sorry guys for getting all spiritual today, but this spot puts me in the mind of gatherings after church at Mother Mae Robinson’s house, an 80-year-old cook who can only be toppled by Grandma Juanita in her culinary abilities.
Cameraman Joe doesn’t eat meat, so I ordered the Fried Catfish Dinner ($12.95). I only wanted one side because we were just getting too out of control, so I settled for potato salad. What a great decision that was. I absolutely loved their potato salad, and I HATE potato salad. I know that sounds dumb, but I have a feeling you know exactly what I mean. I don’t eat potato salad like that, but this was really good peeps. It’s that Auntie style that is slightly sweet and tart at the same time with just the right amount of mayonnaise that isn’t unbearable, with fresh boiled eggs meshed throughout. It’s a great side choice pairing well with seafood. The catfish was fried perfectly, with a mild taste that could have used a tad bit more seasoning. At this point, I was becoming depressed at how weak I was eating so much, because I’m trying to avoid becoming The Hungry Fat Black Man, but it seems that I’m well on my way. Especially when I added three fried shrimp to the meal just for s@%#! and giggles! They were tasty as well.
Last but not least, feeling sad, I ordered a chicken salad to wash away my culinary sins! The Magic Chicken Salad ($7.95) was decent. Make sure you ask the customer service representative or cashier that you want the HOUSE MADE SALAD DRESSING. The Chef tried me and gave me ranch. I wanted what he made, but I was starting to overstay my welcome so it was time for me to get my black ass on somewhere.
Apparently, I thought I was done, but yet again, Cameraman Korey ordered something for himself. He had the Turkey Wing Dinner ($12.95), which he said taste great and the meat was literally falling off the bone. I managed to steal one of them, which is why there is only one, because it’s served with two. Korey was correct. It was very tasty and I loved the skin. I feel kind of like an animal at times, especially the way I was enjoying that succulent baked turkey flesh and skin.
Before I left, I saw a massive guy come in and greet Chef Williams. It was none other than NFL Star and Super bowl Champion Bryant McKinnie who is a regular, and eats super healthy, as per Chef Williams. Mr. Mckinnie also informed some of his celebrity friends of the amazing food at this place and Magic has received visits by superstars such as Kelly Price!
Oh, I almost forgot. There is Kool-aid here! I ordered some with my meal and it was great. Not too sweet, just right. I will definitely be back to Magic in the near future and this place gets a solid 8 ½ of 10 and of course, receives The Hungry Black Man’s approval! If you’re visiting C.B. Smith Park or the Pembroke Lakes mall, this spot is almost walking distance from them both. Another point that I wanted to stress before you check out, is that they restaurant offers lunch specials that are a lot less than the dinner options. I just happen to come during dinner time. You can call them at (954) 507-7199 to check their daily specials and deals. Make sure you follow The Hungry Black Man on Facebook and Instagram for more great Black, Female, and minority owned gems around the United States.