I will be the first to admit; It's Just Good Breakfast & Soulfood is not the poster child for a traditional soul food restaurant. The definition of "soul food" has lead to many conversations and outright debates on the subject, but for me, it really boils down to the traditions by which I was raised. Although I do agree that many dishes reside solely in the soul food arena, like chitterlings and oxtails, I do believe that there are also some dishes that straddle the line, like mac and cheese or grits. From the preparations to the cooking techniques, you will find many differences between Cajun/Creole, Southern, and Soul Food cooking, but I do have certain expectations when it comes to calling yourself a soul food restaurant. This brings me full circle and back to It's Just Good and our visit there.
It's Just Good is a friendly neighborhood spot where locals frequently visit as witnessed by the constant in and out traffic. Some took a sit at the counter where the meals are prepared as you order them and others grabbed to-go containers and ate on their way out the door. Having been a service station in its previous life, the place remains very casual and small in stature, but is hard to miss with the graffiti that bears its name on the side of the building. With decor lined from top to bottom, the ceiling is heavily adorned with sports jerseys and other paraphernalia. They had one cook on duty that day and one waitress and they were both super nice people and were very accommodating. They promptly brought us regular menus and two menus that listed out the days specials for breakfast and lunch. The specials that day were jumbo fried shrimp, fried chicken and catfish. Breakfast is served all day and lunch service begins right before 11:00 a.m.
The main menu consisted of mostly breakfast items with fried chicken, cheeseburgers, catfish, and pork chops thrown in the mix. The breakfast menu was exhaustive, and after scanning the available options, we went for the fried chicken and pork chops. Both came with eggs cooked to your liking, toast of your choice (white/wheat), potato hash, and a side of grits; we ordered a stack of pancakes to seal the deal. The fried chicken was seasoned perfectly and had a thin layer of crust which balanced well overall. The pork chop was very thin and overcooked. When you have meat this thin, this can easily occur; however, it was seasoned well. Although the pancakes were on the thick side, kinda like griddle cakes, they were tasty and I enjoyed them immensely. The eggs and potato hash were great, but the grits were OMG! These were some of the best grits I have tasted in Houston! They were not runny and not stiff; they were just right. The creamy texture, mixed with a bit of butter, sugar, and salt (this is how I eat my grits) made for the perfect meal all by itself.
Pork Chop & 2-Egg Breakfast
Going back to my initial statement, I would consider It's Just Good to be more of a diner and not a soul food restaurant. They really focus on breakfast with one Cajun, Southern, and/or Soul Food option per day. Maybe that is why the sign on the inside displays "It's Just Good Cafe"? I saw oxtails on the sign both inside and outside of the restaurant, but nothing on any of the three menus we received. With its offerings, the missing oxtails being the exception, I would compare it to Franks Grill or Avalon Diner. However, they do offer a daily special which is something you do find in many soul food establishments. If they were to offer at least one soul food item each day, I may retract my statement. As far as my expectations are concerned, when I visit a soul food spot, I am looking for greens (turnip, mustard, collard, cabbage), some form of smothered meat (chicken, pork chop, hamhocks, oxtails, beef tips), and a few sinful sides like yams or mac and cheese. They did offer a few desserts including Sweet Potato Pie and Sock It To Me Cake, which are traditionally served as well, but we didn't get a chance to try them.
Fried Chicken & 2-Egg Breakfast
Overall, It's Just Good Breakfast & Soulfood is a great place. I would definitely go again, even if it was just for their grits or to hang out on their patio and grab a few pieces of fried chicken. We hear the cheeseburgers are the best thing since white rice, so I will make my way back to sample that as well! Side note: I did smell like grease the rest of the day so be mindful if you are planning to be out and about after your visit :-). Enjoy!
It's Just Good Breakfast & Soulfood
4331 OST (Old Spanish Trail)
Houston, TX 77021
~ Shanna "Urban Girl" Jones, Urban Swank