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Overheard on a recent Friday morning at David Family Kitchen: “I'm bringing my momma here!” This from a middle-aged man in a tracksuit who merely had to breathe in the aroma coming off the griddle and survey the day's menu, scrawled in black Sharpie on a whiteboard, to declare it up to mom's standards. Which, of course, is pretty much the ultimate compliment for a soul food spot: to be known for true comfort food, the kind we associate with home.
As its name suggests, David Family Kitchen comes by its reputation honestly. The late Rev. Stoy David opened the restaurant a little more than 11 years ago with his wife Pearletha (“Miss Pearl,” everyone calls her), and throughout its existence on South Broadway, it's been largely staffed by Davids or other kin. These days, three David children, an aunt and a cousin help Miss Pearl run the small kitchen and buffet line.
There's no printed menu. Miss Pearl says she never knows when she might want to change things up. So she has the whiteboard to suit her whims. For some time, though, there's been a degree of regularity to the schedule. Oxtails on Tuesday and Thursday. Chicken and dumplings on Tuesday. Meatloaf on Tuesday. Fried catfish every Friday.
That, after years of eating at David Family Kitchen, we didn't get a handle on the rotation until recently might have something to do with one constant: no matter the day, the Davids are deep frying chicken. And not just fried chicken, but golden, juicy, liberally spiced fried chicken — perhaps the best you'll find in town. So good that it's difficult to branch out. We know there's joy to be found in DFK's chicken necks and oxtails and fried pork chops, but it's just so hard to cheat on that chicken. In fact, we have a hard time not ordering the same thing every visit — fried chicken, cabbage, yams and cornbread. It's the perfect balance of flavors and textures. The savory crunch of chicken. The slight tang of cooked cabbage. That thick, dessert-level sweetness in which the yams come swimming. And a yellow square of cornbread, which isn't anything to write home about, but is just the right density for sopping.
Then there's the other aspect of David Family Kitchen, which in some circles gets all the attention — breakfast. It starts at 6 a.m., and unlike lunch, everything is made to order, which means waiting a tic. But it's more than worth it. The menu is broad and full of all the typical combinations — eggs, sausage, bacon, biscuits, toast, pancakes. And cheap. You can get three pancakes, two eggs and bacon or sausage for $4.99. After a recent visit, however, we'll be hard-pressed to deviate from anything biscuit-related (they come thick and buttery) and any meal that doesn't include smothered potatoes. It's a misleading name, as the potatoes seem to be boiled to softness and then fried with onions, almost like a potato latke, but without the pancake-style arrangement. We haven't tasted anything better in weeks.
David Family Kitchen
2301 Broadway St.
If you can manage room or have the foresight to consider dessert-for-later, there are man-sized pieces of yellow cake and generous helpings of homemade cobbler, the crust just this side of fried pie crust, that deserve serious consideration.
6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday through Friday.
Credit cards. No alcohol. Dining room closes at 3:30 p.m.