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Food & Drink

Best Soul Food Restaurant 

Imperial Palace Restaurant & Lounge

Located just north of Grand Center, the Imperial Palace is perhaps best known as a 30-and-up nightspot, but its soul-food lunch specials bring out the locals and a few curious patrons. The emphasis here is on the soul: the booming sound system pumps out timeless Quiet Storm slow jams and bubbly '70s funk from the likes of the Chi-Lites and Earth, Wind & Fire. It's a great soundtrack to any meal, really, but the music — warm, familiar and deep — is a perfect complement to the terrific dishes that come forth from the Palace's modest kitchen. The fare is everything you want from soul food: simple, hearty and filling, prepared and served with family-style, homemade casualness. The Imperial Palace serves lunch from a cafeteria-style serving line, with simmering dishes full of a half-dozen or so daily entrées, including roast beef, baked chicken, catfish and chicken wings. Of course, home-style food lives and dies on the side dishes, and starchy staples like mac & cheese, sweet potatoes and stewed cabbage are piled high. To paraphrase the late local soul man Luther Ingram, if loving Imperial Palace is wrong, we don't want to be right.

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