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Southern Kitchen

9576 S Congress St, New Market, VA - (540) 740-3514
Posted By Michael Stern on April 9, 2014 9:38 AM
Like veined cheese, sourdough bread, and vintage wine, great country ham awakens that special fascination taste buds have for flavors that teeter on the refined side of rot. Southern Kitchen country ham is brick-red, salty, and powerfully tasty, not for palates who crave the blubbery pink stuff that comes in cans from the supermarket. For true ham-lovers, it is divine, especially with a side order of sweet stewed tomatoes to balance the savory smack of the griddle-sizzled slices of pigmeat.

Ham is great for breakfast, lunch, and supper. The Southern Kitchen’s other four-star specialty is something you want only for lunch or supper: peanut soup. A true Virginia treat, peanut soup can vary from bisque-thick to brothy; the version made by this kitchen tends towards the velvety kind, rich with butter but not thickened with cream, onion-sweet and silky. It is a satisfying soup, but it leaves you enough appetite to move on to one of the other gratifying cafe meals available here, such as ham with raisin sauce, fried chicken, or pan-fried trout from the James River. To finish any one of these exemplary western Virginia spreads, have a wedge of apple or coconut cream pie.

The Southern Kitchen is a supremely casual café that serves locals as well as tourists on their way through the Shenandoah Valley to the Luray Caverns. Seating is at a counter or in booths, and decor includes deer trophies above the booths on the paneled walls as well as beautiful whole hanging country hams (for sale). Place mats are paper; and service, by uniformed waitresses, is speedy and pleasant.

NOTE: Early in 2014, the family that has run the Southern Kitchen for decades sold it. Preliminary visits to the restaurant indicate that it hasn't changed all that much and the food is still good. We'll keep our fingers crossed that it stays on the beam!
5 star rating
Overall Rating
Peanut Soup
Country Ham
Fried Chicken
Stewed Tomatoes
Coconut Creme Pie
Sausage
Glazed Carrots

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Posted By Lee Hutchison on July 21, 2014 4:21 PM
We were there for a late lunch and seemed to be the only non-locals in the place. What a throw-back - straight out of the 1950s - and worth the trip. Anyway, my wife and I both had a vegetable plate. The stewed tomatoes were as good as advertised, the cole slaw was great - not too creamy - and the green beans were good, but from a can. (What diner serves fresh green beans anymore? High-end restaurants, yes, but diners, no. I don't get it.)

The meringue pies were also great. I asked if they made their own pies and the waitress said yes, they make their own meringue pies but no, not the other pies they sell. They buy all other pies ready-to-bake. She was very upfront about that which was appreciated. Oddly, no rolls or cornbread accompanied the meal.
0 star rating
Overall Rating
Stewed Tomatoes
Coconut Creme Pie
Cole slaw
All homade Pies and cakes

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Posted By Conrad Sigona on July 20, 2013 12:35 PM
A nice place, seemingly frequented by regulars. Friendly staff. The oyster stew is made to order. The liquid part is great, but the oysters have lots of shell parts still on them and in your mouth. The peanut soup was good, but nothing to get excited about. Country ham sandwich also good. Fried chicken is not as good as I expected. Yes, it's better than at most places nowadays, but the chicken was previously frozen and no longer juicy. The batter is perfect and the frying is perfect; too bad the kitchen talent was spent on frozen chicken parts. I would stop here again since it's easy to get to, but I wouldn't go much out of my way.
2 star rating
Overall Rating
Country Ham
Coconut Creme Pie
Fried Chicken
Oyster Stew

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Posted By Maria Carter on December 16, 2012 12:38 AM
Got there around 7:30 on a Friday night. Expected busier, so pleasant surprise. Very friendly waitstaff, and they took care to make me welcome. Had the peanut soup: as expected, a slightly sweet hint and overall interestingly good-tasting (if a bit odd to me in concept). Fried chicken was good but each piece differed from the other in terms of flavor of crust, juiciness, etc. Green beans were quite good as were home fries (a little onion might have helped out the latter). Finished off with the coconut cream pie; excellent!
2 star rating
Overall Rating
Coconut Creme Pie
Fried Chicken
Green Beans
Peanut Soup

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Posted By Adam Borden on October 26, 2011 4:23 PM
I showed up early this morning based upon the site's reviews and sat down on my own. Next to me were three women who were clearly regulars. The waitress said to one, "What?! No coffee this morning?" My waitress could not have been nicer.

I ordered the sausage biscuit and gravy. It took a little long to come out, and it seemed the reason was the dish comes with home fries that had to be cooked to order. Man they were hot! The gravy was thick with chunks of sausage and went nicely with the super-hot potatoes. All in all, I would return and I definitely want to try the peanut soup!
3 star rating
Overall Rating
Sausage Gravy

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Posted By Gareth Richards on July 14, 2011 11:11 AM
Maybe our orders got lost in the kitchen. Folks who were clearly locals were getting waited on and receiving their orders. As tourists, we weren't so lucky. The restaurant wasn't busy but we waited and waited. When we asked, the staff was rude. It took an hour for our food to come.
1 star rating
Overall Rating

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Posted By Ron Cooper on May 11, 2011 3:10 PM
Great ham and eggs. Large portions, friendly service, and a real 50s funk. Close to the I-81 exit, and worth the drive.
3 star rating
Overall Rating
Country Ham
Breakfast

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Posted By JM on February 22, 2011 10:51 AM
Southern Kitchen serves Southern food. Been there since 1955 and the family has intentionally kept the 1950s motif. If you are looking for "health food" then go to the health store. This food is fried. Forget fresh veggies. I have eaten there many times. As at most restaurants, there are foods that I don't order and some that I love.

The waitresses are sweet and try to please. I eat breakfast there whenever I can. The coffee keeps coming. The prices are fair. And, drop a coin into the slot.

Here are my favorites:
Sausage gravy, biscuits, and home fries (huge portion)
Eggs, sausage, toast
Hot roast beef and gravy and mashed potatoes
Fried chicken
Buckwheat pancakes
4 star rating
Overall Rating
Hot Roast Beef Sandwich
Breakfast
Sausage Gravy
Peanut Soup
Sausage
Fried Chicken
Cole slaw
Potato salad

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Posted By MR. Richard on January 25, 2011 12:15 PM
The building sure looks familiar. Can it be an old HoJo's?
0 star rating
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Posted By Sam Sanchez on January 21, 2011 5:08 PM
I live in the Washington, D.C. area, but spent my high school years right down the road from Southern Kitchen. I give it a high rating, but take everything I have to say into consideration. Keep in mind you are in the South... small town, neighborhood restaurant, same ole neon sign, very nostalgic-looking. Whenever we had the chance to get off campus to hang out, talk, laugh, sit at the counter, or sit at a booth with its own coin-operated jukebox, waiting for a good hot meal, Southern Kitchen was it. At that moment, nothing could be better.

You don't go to a place like this for great appetizers or big-city food. You go for a great Southern breakfast, eggs, hotcakes, meats, hash browns, biscuits, and a good cup of warm coffee, or lunch and dinner with fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, homemade sides like coleslaw and potato salad with a light sprinkle of paprika, and soups like the creamy peanut soup typical for the area. If it's still on the menu you might want to try their short ribs. And you can never go wrong with a burger and fries.

Whatever you get just remember: you're walking into a Southern classic.
5 star rating
Overall Rating
Cole slaw
Potato salad
All homade Pies and cakes
Breakfast

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Posted By Sue Dillon on August 22, 2010 9:47 AM
My son and I stopped here on a trip back from a college visit up north. He ordered the Trailblazer sandwich and I ordered fried mushrooms as an appetizer, followed by the famous stewed tomatoes as an entree. After seeing the small portion size of the mushrooms, I asked the waitress for some French onion soup, which was the soup of the day. I must have put her out with that request, because when the soup arrived, the melted cheese had some black spots on it (I thought it was pepper). However, after one bite, I realized it was dirt.

Rather than make a scene and send it back, I just ate around it. The tomatoes turned out to be too sweet for my taste and I did not finish them. We had dessert and then left. I will never return to this restaurant. Very disappointed!
1 star rating
Overall Rating
Hot Roast Beef Sandwich
Coconut Creme Pie
Peanut Soup
Country Ham
Stewed Tomatoes
Glazed Carrots
Sausage
Fried Chicken

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Posted By Stan Lamberg on July 3, 2008 9:31 AM
We arrived at Southern Kitchen at 6 p.m. on a Wednesday. The place was nearly empty. It was summer but there were no fresh vegetables on the menu as sides. Most of the food was fried.

Their special sandwich, the "Trailblazer," was small with thin-sliced sparse meat on a small Italian roll, about half the size of a Subway sandwich, for $7. A coconut cream pie was made on-site, but the other pies were purchased frozen and baked. In fairness, the fried chicken was moist and the portion was large. The coffee did not have the full flavor of diner coffee, but there were free refills.

Service was fairly fast. We did not try the peanut soup (one of us is peanut sensitive) or the ham, the two items recommended by Roadfood.com. The main cook, now in her 80's, has been working here for more than 50 years. The retro look made the stop interesting, but I would not make any effort to return for the food.
1 star rating
Overall Rating

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Posted By Matthew Peterson on August 30, 2007 1:08 AM
After coming off the trail from two days of backpacking in GW National Forest, I headed straight to New Market and Southern Kitchen with a large appetite and high expectations. The place did not disappoint. I knew from the neon sign and crowded parking lot outside that this was my kind of place.

I started out with the peanut soup. Rich and creamy, this was the first time I tried peanut soup in the US and I had one of those "where has this been all my life" moments. It reminded me of ground nut stews you find in West Africa. For my entree I had the "famous" fried chicken with buttered corn and mashed potatoes. The chicken was crisp and nicely seasoned and the potatoes creamy and smooth.

I think the ambiance sealed the deal. Classic Americana diner and decor. Good service too. It was Sunday and Southern Kitchen was packed with what looked to be both locals and travelers. Next time I will have to try the ham.
3 star rating
Overall Rating

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Posted By Dan Blinn on August 24, 2007 11:06 AM
We spent the night in New Market on a recent trip and had the opportunity to eat at the Southern Kitchen for both dinner and for breakfast the next morning. The consensus of the large group was that the peanut soup was terrific but the fried chicken was just ok. The side dishes were fair to poor, except for the stewed tomatoes, which were excellent. The star at breakfast the next morning was the Virginia ham: very salty and smoky, with an intense flavor. Very enjoyable.

One thing to watch out for. We were part of a large group (eight people). Their paper placemats warn that they add a gratuity for large groups. During the first night, our friend paid the tab, and the cashier asked if he wanted to add the tip to the credit card, which he agreed to do. Only later did he discover that he had left about a 40% tip (he added 20% to the 18% that was already on there). The next morning I paid, knowing that the tip was already on there. The cashier again asked if I wanted to add the tip to the credit card. When I told her that it was already added, she smiled and said that she "had to try for them." Very sneaky!
0 star rating
Overall Rating

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Posted By Corbett Shope on April 22, 2007 5:03 PM
My family went to Southern Kitchen and we liked it (I loved it!) It was about lunch time. I had the fried chicken special: leg & thigh, buttered carrots and stewed tomoatoes. It was outstanding! I never had fried chicken so good; it was addictive. If I wasn't watching what I ate I would've had several more pieces.

My wife just had a chicken salad sandwich; she's a little more careful with her diet. My kids had BBQ sandwiches (my oldest daughter had two!) Unfortunately, it wasn't homemade BBQ. We then shared a piece of coconut cream pie. Delectable! Definitely one of the best pies I've had. Dessert and chicken beats Mrs. Rowe's hands down (we had eaten there the previous day).
4 star rating
Overall Rating

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Posted By Joseph Tomaras on March 17, 2007 6:29 PM
My wife and I visited Southern Kitchen for breakfast. My mission: to sample excellent country ham. Mission accomplished.

The ham was salty and pungent. Best of all, the slice through the bone was thick enough that I could scoop out the preserved marrow from inside and smear it on my toast. The result was unctuously rich and flavorful. Other breakfast foods we sampled were slightly disappointing: our eggs undercooked, the toast covered in margarine rather than butter, the coffee uninspiring, but no worse than we would have expected from the chains down the road.

Along with the ham, it is worth visiting for the atmosphere. They were genuinely friendly; service no less prompt for travelers as for the many local regulars. Treat it as what it is: a small-town diner, with food and hospitality to match. If one is already in the mountains of Virginia, stop by, if only to avoid the many chains along I-81, but it is not a destination in its own right.
4 star rating
Overall Rating

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Posted By Kay Rogers on March 23, 2004 9:24 PM
I agree with the above poster. We had lunch here yesterday. My son ordered the peanut soup which was great and a country ham sandwich. He was very disapointed in the ham.........said he has had much better at many place. I saw that they advertise their fried chicken as being famous so I ordered the small plate which consisted of a quite dreadful store roll, a very small sauce dish of stewed tomatoes and a very small piece of chicken breast and a wing. I have never had worse fried chicken in my life. I am sure that it was left over from the day before. It was barely warm, very dried out and I could not eat it. So for 7 bucks I enjoyed the small dish of stewed tomatoes! I was most unhappy with this restaurant. We had stopped there a couple of times for breakfast which was fine but would hate to see a "Roadfooder" make a trip to this place...........just drive on.
1 star rating
Overall Rating

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Posted By steven martin on March 17, 2003 4:13 PM
Southern Kitchen in New Market, VA was last reviewed by Roadfood in March 2001. I would suggest that RF might consider dropping it from their list. My wife and I got off I81 and stopped there on a Saturday evening for dinner. For whatever reason, neither of us ordered the two items described in the original RF review, peanut soup or country ham. We reasoned that other items would be good also. My wife ordered fried chicken and I ordered a seafood platter. Her salad was rusty bag lettuce. Her main comment was that chicken from Popeye's was better than what she was served. My seafood platter was just plain awful. Heavily breaded frozen Mrs Pauls caliber seafood. And the breaded fish filet was cold in the middle. My side vegetable dishes were mushy canned beets and carrots. Dinner rolls were typical grocery store quality. They knocked $3 off the bill when told the fish was cold. They should have eliminated the bill altogether for this awful meal. I might try the peanut soup sometime based upon the original RF review but beleive me that will be it. Twenty bucks wasted as far as I'm concerned. In two years this place must have gone waaaaay downhill. Their desert pies did look good but after such an awful meal neither of us had any interest.
1 star rating
Overall Rating

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