Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Chow Time: Southern Kitchen Restaurant

Southern Kitchen Restaurant in New Market, VA is a veritable time capsule.  If one was so inclined, one could quickly dispose of the few and easily-removed modern adornments, making patrons feel like they have been transported to 1958, the year that Southern Kitchen first opened its doors.

We were led to Southern Kitchen by our good pal, Mod Betty at Retro Roadmap.  It was her review, and Southern Kitchen's location (directly en route to Washington, D.C.), that made it a must-see destination on our adventure.  From the stacked-stone exterior with its angled picture windows and gloriously-aged neon signage to the hearty portions and exceptional service, Southern Kitchen definitely gets the wacky tacky seal of approval!

I don't know what "ABC-ON-OFF" means, but there was plenty of on site parking.

I think if I had to choose a fraternal order to join,
it would definitely be the Knights of Pythias.
It's a funny name...and who doesn't want to be knight?!

Lately, I've had to reexamine what wacky tacky actually means.  Is it enough that a place is just "old?"  Is it enough just to have a cool, neon sign?  Is it enough to just have an unusual menu item?  Walking into Southern Kitchen I wasn't sure if one of these things was enough to qualify for wacky tacky status...but three out of three ain't bad!  More than just the age, the sign, and the menu, it is the spirit with which Southern Kitchen maintains its spotless dining rooms and serves its soulful menu that makes it a mandatory stop on the wacky tacky highway.

The formica front counter
Don't you love the display case of candies and the plant nook?

The beautiful, counter seating was a very tempting option
 especially with the two-tone, banded formica!

Y'all can keep your chrome dinette sets!  I would be more than happy to
take off with these bent wood, upholstered chairs with nailhead trim!


A trio of materials to love

Neatly tucked into our turquoise booth, I was taken with how pristine the entire restaurant looked.  The chrome was shiny, the furniture polished, and the formica was spic-and-span.  Even the faux foliage (faux-liage?) in the planters was dusted and well-chosen.  It is obvious that the folks in charge put a lot of love into their restaurant.  I could wax poetic over the well-waxed linoleum for days but we were there with a real purpose - to EAT!

It was high time to explore the menu.
My sister likes to maintain a certain level of ordering privacy.

Don't look at me like that!
Venison is NOT on the menu!!!
Taxidermy always seals the deal for Mr. Tiny.

One of Southern Kitchen's signature dishes is their "Peanut Soup," of which
our server was kind enough to bring us some samples.  More than the
soup, I wanted those dishes!

The soup, a Thai-like combination of peanut butter,
onions, and milk, was tasty but the sample was plenty.

Based on our charming server's recommendations, we made our selections and waited.  I used the opportunity to take some pictures.  Springing up from the table every few moments when I noticed something else that was in need of photo documentation, I got the feeling that the staff probably thought I was insane.  They were far too polite, however, to make comment.

The Fried Chicken Sandwich with Potato Wedges
I wanted to keep the plastic sword that speared pickles to bun!

The Open-Faced Pot Roast Sandwich

Southern Kitchen's famous Fried Chicken
I was assured that the taste was far superior to the presentation!!!

For all of its 55 years of service, Southern Kitchen seems to have aged not a single day.  In Southern California it is a regular sight to see a 55-year-old fighting to combat age by any means and at any cost.  With Southern Kitchen, its youthfulness is refreshingly effortless.  I'm thinking that the fountain of youth just might be fried chicken!!!

Thanks Mod Betty for sending us in the right direction!  If ever I am in the area again, I will absolutely make my way back to Southern Kitchen.

Southern Kitchen Restaurant
9576 S Congress St
New Market, VA


Mr. Tiny


  1. Its music to my ears to hear that you went to the Southern Kitchen based on my Retro Roadmap Recommendation! And I'm even more thrilled that you got more and better photos of the vintage details that make that place such a fab time capsule. While I may be a yankee, I do loves me some southern food - particularly fried chicken, country ham and iced tea.

    Always hoping to steer people right - right off the interstate and into cool vintage places like this - glad it worked!

    1. Well, you definitely steered us in the right direction. I just wish I had more time (and endless resources) to follow all of the Retro Roadmaps - particularly in the Northeast!!! I don't know if anything I could do would be "better" than Retro Roadmap but I sure am happy to know we are both on the lookout for worthwhile roadside. I hope our retro roads cross again very soon. Thanks again!

  2. ABC - ON - OFF? That's easy:

    ABC = Alcoholic Beverage Commission
    ON = licenced for on-premises sale (and consumption)
    OFF = licenced for off-premises sales (take it home and drink it)

    1. Well, what do you know? Thanks Nicholas! I never would've figured that out on my own and I love learning something new. We probably have similar licensing laws in California but I've never seen anything like this posted before. Thanks again!!!

  3. Peanut soup?! I love peanuts and peanut butter, but I'm not sure I fancy it as a soup!!!!

    1. It was definitely worth a try...but not a whole bowl!!! I get really "creative" in the kitchen when I am not feeling well and think that I've created a masterpiece. When I taste the same creation in a healthy state, it usually makes me sick all over again. I'm wondering if Peanut Soup had a similar genesis??? Hahahaha!!!

  4. Oh my god I LOVE their sign, and that formica. *swoon*

    1. The sign is so understated and beautiful. There really are no words for the formica. I don't care what they say about the "boomerang effect," the boomerangs have gone away and aren't coming back! It's all about triangles!

  5. Loving all of that formica!!! The Knights of Pythias strike again! I am going to have to ask my mom to refresh my memory as to my grandfather's shenanigans with the Knights. I think she might have a pin or something somewhere from those days with their symbol on it. ;-)

    1. Do the Knights have a female branch/sister society. I know my great-grandmother was heavily involved in the Eastern Star as the wife of a Mason. Most of the stuff that we have inherited is bits of ephemera from their involvement in those groups - flyers, invitations, cards, certificates of advancement, etc. It is always so intriguing. I just don't want to drink blood from the skull of an animal!!! Hahahaha!!!

  6. In southern California we see "EZ ON-OFF" referring to freeway access!
    I figured the Virginia sign had to do with alcohol. I've seen something similar in hmmm... maybe Ogden Utah? Or was it Sacramento, California? (They ARE somewhat similar...)

    1. I guess I need to keep my eyes on the road; I've never seen the "EZ ON-OFF" sign. I've never been to either town...maybe it's time for a road trip!