Five mouth-watering meals you must order at the new National Museum of African American History and Culture
You’ll want a to-go plate when you visit the Sweet Home Cafe
Bring foil — the grub at the National Museum of African American History and Culture is just that good. The food at Washington, D.C.’s, newest museum is something akin to what Big Mama and ‘nem used to fix up. The lima beans taste like they were just snapped on the front porch, the catfish tastes like what granddaddy used to deep-fry out back and the cornbread is so good you’ll want to sip some buttermilk with it out of a mason jar.
Trust. The Sweet Home Cafe is amazing.
And it should be, considering that the food was curated by part by Thompson Hospitality, which is America’s largest minority-owned food service company (celebrity chef Carla Hall was a consultant). They did this right.
And there’s plenty to feast on at the 400-seat restaurant. Visitors won’t know where to start, but the truth is, you can’t go wrong. The food stations are separated by region to expand the African-American food experience beyond collard greens, cornbread and chicken. The North, the South, the Creole Coast and the Western Range are all represented.
And your belly will be very happy.
Here are five of our favorites:
- Pan-fried Louisiana Catfish Po’ boy: The fish tastes as if it was plucked fresh from the water and the dish is served with red pepper rémoulade and green bean pickles. And yes, there’s hot sauce in the condiments area. Real hot sauce — not that watery pepper sauce you get at some restaurants. Wouldn’t be right without it.
- Smothered Turkey Grillades — Fried Apple, Sage Gravy, Johnny Cakes: Can’t say this was ever something anyone in my Alabama family or Detroit-by-way-of-Alabama family grew up eating, but it hit the spot. A tender savory turkey breast served with sweet fried apples and moist johnnycakes. More, please.
- High Mesa Peach and Blackberry Cobbler: Get this first; they’ll surely run out quickly and you’ll have to wait for another fresh-baked kettle of this fantastic cobbler to be pulled out of the oven. It’s exactly how a cobbler should be: heavy on the biscuitlike texture of pie crust that soaks up the sweet juices of vine-ripe fruit.
- Original Brunswick Stew — Braised Chicken & Rabbit, Corn, Tomatoes, Lima Beans: If you’re adventurous, grab a bowl of this stew. A pot of this was a staple on my grandparents’ kitchen table during the colder months — yep, ‘Bama gets cold from time to time – and this stew is as authentic as it comes.
- The Gospel Bird Family Platter — Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Mac-n-Cheese, Greens, Candied Yams and Buttermilk Biscuits: This is the meal that will pull in the church crowd every Sunday — religiously. It actually serves two to three people and the mac-n-cheese and crispy chicken scream soul food done right. The biscuit is buttery and fluffy and the yams and greens feel like home. Brace yourself for a good nap.