Correction to This Article
The Good to Go column in the Oct. 10 Food section listed an incorrect address for Catfish Fridays. The restaurant is at 2312 Fourth St. NE.
Good to Go

Where the Catfish Are Jumpin'

A plate of pork ribs with sides at Kenny's Smoke House on Capitol Hill.
A plate of pork ribs with sides at Kenny's Smoke House on Capitol Hill. (By Mary Lou Foy For The Washington Post)
By Walter Nicholls
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 10, 2007

With a hunger for soul food, we crisscrossed the city and followed our noses in search of smoky aromas and the true flavors of the South. Along the way we visited five terrific places for fried fish, pork ribs and long-cooked collards.

Anacostia Restaurant & Catering

We found owner "Mama" Cole at the rear of the little cafeteria she has operated for three years, up to her elbows in potato salad.

"The Lord blessed me with the ability to cook," Cole says as she adds a generous squirt of mustard to the mix, and that ability extends to more than potato salad. Her fried whiting ($7 with choice of two sides) is lightly seasoned and not the slightest bit greasy to the touch. Those who like sweet, sticky yams ($1.95 for eight ounces) with a blast of cinnamon have come to the right place, and her greens ($1.95 for eight ounces) are fresh-tasting and mellow. She's not planning to close while her restaurant undergoes a much-needed renovation later this month, but she says, "I'd close my doors before I'd sell canned greens."

1918 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE, 202-889-9588. Hours: Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Torrie's at Wilson

At this comfy diner, directly across from Howard University Hospital in Shaw, more than 100 photos of celebrities line the walls. Since its opening in 1994, James Brown, Stevie Wonder and Bill Clinton have been among those in search of a hearty meal.

Owner John S. Goodwin says the fragrant chitterlings ($6.95) sell out every day. But the most popular selection on the menu is Torrie's Famous Steak & Egg breakfast ($7.95; available from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.). It's easy to see why. Like the restaurant, the dish is named for Goodwin's daughter, and it consists of a tender, marinated rib-eye with a mild vinegar flavor alongside two large cooked-to-order eggs and a fluffy biscuit. "We buy the best and handle a great piece of meat the way it should be handled," Goodwin says.

700 V St. NW, 202-462- 3700 . Hours: Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Catfish Fridays

Expect a long line at the bright, inviting walk-up window of Catfish Fridays in Edgewood, where the specialty is, of course, catfish ($8.95 with choice of two sides). "Most of my customers go out of their way to come here -- from Baltimore, from McLean," says Cris Dinwiddie, who opened for business two years ago. "I'm amazed at the clientele I get."

This little place knows how to delicately bread and cook a fish. "It's the way they fry it. It's crispy and not soggy," Alexandria resident Leigh Washington says as she waits her turn. Of the side dishes ($2.50 for eight ounces), we liked the perfectly cheesy macaroni and cheese and the mild and creamy potato salad.

231 Fourth St. NE, 202-526-2411. Hours: Thursday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Kenny's Smoke House

Located on a Capitol Hill corner for 10 years, with a spacious patio for alfresco dining, this barbecue joint has lots of loyal fans. Owner Kenny Jeon says he sells more than 300 pounds of his egg-rich potato salad (all side dishes are $1.75 for eight ounces), tart with pickle flavor, each week. The tender collards are some of the best we tried. Jeon is proud of his pork ribs ($11.50 for a half-slab, with choice of two sides and corn bread), and rightly so: "We never boil them like a lot of people do." They are firm yet tender, with the perfect hit of smoky goodness.

732 Maryland Ave. NE; 202-547-4553. Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.


Fried whiting ($10.95 with choice of two sides) is the most-requested entree at Flavors, a soul-food oasis and counter-service restaurant tucked on a side street near Baileys Crossroads. "It's all about dropping the fish in at the right temperature," says Francine Helton, who opened this spot with her sons, Troy and Richard, a decade ago. But it's the cooked-to-order, lightly coated, crisp fried chicken ($12.50 with choice of two sides) that is worth the 20-minute wait. (Regular customers know to call ahead.) The best side we tried was the gooey macaroni and cheese.

3420 Carlyn Hill Dr., Falls Church; 703-379-4411. Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 2 to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 7 p.m.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company