It seems especially appropriate that Rodney and Stephanie Wilson serve soul food at their downtown Anniston restaurant. Just getting to the point of owning their own place took a lot of faith.
Several years ago, Rodney began experiencing kidney failure. He ended up having a transplant and then needed to find another job. He had spent decades in the fast-food industry, but going back to that didn’t seem right. And he had long dreamed of having his own restaurant. That dream became Rodney’s Soul & Grill.
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We do everything by hand,” Rodney says. “We cut everything. It’s long and tedious, but when you’re in soul food you have to bring a great product. And my sign says ‘real soul food,’ so I have to step my game up and make sure that it’s real.”
The menu features lots of vegetables: turnips and collards, which are rich and tangy each in their own way; green beans; delicious black-eyed peas; mac and cheese; cabbage, thick mashed potatoes with a bit of potato skin mixed in; sweet potatoes with a secret ingredient that has some people coming in several times a week. Everything is made fresh daily.
Specials change from day to day, and the meat to go with your three might include chicken baked with rosemary or meatloaf topped with a traditional tangy tomato sauce. There are chicken wings. Fish is always fried to order, and there’s a fish fry special on Fridays. Most of the recipes come from Rodney’s mother. He grew up picking greens, cutting greens, picking corn, shucking corn. He knows a memorable Sunday meal might take most of the day to cook.
But the most popular dish at Rodney’s Soul & Grill is Jamaican oxtails, and that’s Stephanie’s specialty. They are fall-off-the-bone tender in a thick, rich stew bright with allspice. People come from all over for them, so this dish is available every day. Chitlins also are popular. So is the fried chicken, which is remarkably juicy with a nice, crisp, slightly salty crust.
This was some of the best fried chicken we’ve had in a long while. And that alone makes Rodney’s worth a drive.
Rodney’s Soul & Grill
1307 Noble Street, Anniston, AL 36201
Hours: Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 7 p.m. (no food service on Saturdays).