Last week was a week of firsts.
It was the first time I had seen a handful of my relatives from my dad’s side since I was six months old. It was their first time visiting California and enjoying its weather, coastline and festivities.
It was also the first time I indulged in the Southern home cooking of Lillie Mae’s House of Soul Food in Santa Clara.
Many times I’ve driven by this place, which looks like an old, large wooden shack that gives off aromas of smoked meat through the air. How I resisted this long is beyond me.
So my dad treated all of us to a meal of fried chicken, collard greens and other Southern-cooking delights.
Dish of Choice
I ordered the No. 7 dinner combination, which came with fried chicken and hot sausage links. The combo dinners are served with two sides and cornbread or hushpuppies. I chose collard greens, macaroni and cheese and cornbread. My portion of the meal cost $16.95 before tax.
This was one satisfying and indulgent meal with enough food to take home – if you don’t want to overstuff yourself.
The chicken was juicy, had a great crunch to the skin and just the right amount of salt and seasoning. I loved the mac and cheese, which had crispy, baked pieces of cheese throughout the soft, creamy noodles. The cornbread was thick, moist and had a subtle sweetness and golden-brown top.
The collard greens were seasoned just right and tasted like they had been stewing all day. The hot links were covered in a smoky, spicy sauce that gradually built up in heat as I ate. It was the kind of heat you feel right before you start getting sweat on your forehead.
I would highly recommend ordering one of the combo dinners to get a variety of soul food favorites.
My relatives loved Lillie Mae’s so much that they returned for one last meal before heading back to the East Coast. I was a little irritated that they went without me.
However, my dad brought me home two pieces of fried catfish, fried okra and a container of rich, thick and creamy banana pudding with crisp vanilla wafers on top. I wasn’t so irritated after that ;-).
Lillie Mae’s, located at 1290 Coleman Ave., is celebrating its fifth anniversary Saturday, Aug. 1 from 12 noon to 5 p.m. in the restaurant’s parking lot, according to its Facebook page. The celebration will feature a $5 menu of chicken and waffles, catfish, pork ribs and drinks, along with R&B music performed by J.C. Smith & Band.
For more information about Lillie Mae’s, call 408-227-7685 or visit www.lilliemaeshouse.com.