WOW! My Mom and Dad just celebrated their 68th, year of marriage. In an attempt to help them celebrate just a bit, we decided to pick them up and take ’em out away from their normal independent living facility’s elegant dining room, giving them several options. Today they could have chosen from Greek, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Mexican, Seafood or Soul Food. These options were based on a list of restaurants in their area that we have never been to. My Father demanded that I choose the cuisine I preferred. It has been a long time since I have had some kind of southern soul food kind of American fair. What I’m talkin’ about is breakfast being served until 2pm, and lunch menu items like collard greens, biscuits and gravy, fried green tomatoes, Okra, red beans and rice, St Louis and Baby Back ribs, fried chicken and Gumbo . . . did I say Gumbo???
The restaurant’s name seems just a bit out of place, but I guess I can’t necessarily judge a book by it’s cover. I certainly wouldn’t expect this very cleanly styled place in an improved industrial area of El Corazon in South East Oceanside, CA to be called Felix’s BBQ With Soul. I mean soul food . . . who the hell eats this stuff here in Southern California? Aren’t Californians all about healthy food and a healthy lifestyle. Foods like Quinoa, Sushi and farm to table produce and animals like organic chicken and organic herbs. Soul food . . . here?
Felix’s menu was quite diverse but sticks firmly to their concept. Everything I tasted, and it was many items across the table, was great. I was pleasantly surprised that everything was well seasoned and full of flavor. Not one item was disappointing, but the braised cabbage was excellent and a menu standout from the variety of sides we tried from their vast offerings.
Felix’s BBQ with Soul did get very busy this Sunday for lunch service. Luckily we arrived before the place filled up. Now, my mother’s frail ability to walk distances has afforded her the opportunity to utilize a disable parking placard. My wife and I even gave significant consideration to my parents aging process and their ability to get into and out of the new vehicle we finally bought a year or so ago (a very bad ass 2012 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite). We have enjoyed the ability for my Mother to ingress and egress the vehicle with greater ability and comfort. When we travel with my folks we bring along a disabled placard so we can use the convenient “ADA” parking areas when needed. Today was no exception. As we approached the facility, we planned to utilize the handicapped parking spot directly in front of the entrance to Felix’s; only to find Felix’s catering van using the wheel-chair accessible ramp to load up for a catering gig that day. Their van was parked precariously close to the stall in which we needed to use; and the other non-ADA (regular) parking stall on the other side, was taken up by a larger vehicle, making our use of the designated handicapped parking area difficult at best. As my wife watched closely from inside the restaurant, the caterer that was using the van came out; and as I assisted my Mom, the caterer must have known we were displeased, because as he said hello and looked at us, he noticed our displeased situation and the poignant “stink eye” being delivered in his direction. Felix must do this often as their “double-wide” kitchen doors make for easy access for loading of their van.
Aside from the obvious ADA violation and our initial poor customer experience, the overall dining experience was good. The food came out very quickly and was very hot. We even commented to each other at our table at the speed of the service; but quickly realized the preparation of most of our food items has already been accomplished and just plate assembly was needed in most cases. The gravy for the biscuits is already simmering on a burner; the Gumbo too is simmering and just needs to go in a bowel; the ribs have already been cooked; the mac ‘n’ cheese, the awesome braised cabbage is on the stove right next to the deliciously spiced collar greens; and the red beans and the rice are already cooked and ready to plate. Only two items we ordered were freshly prepared; the (I’ve never had) Fried Green Tomatoes and the very large catfish portion my father had. Otherwise, everything was already prepared and just required plating. Thinking back and looking at their menu, how simple of an operation is that? The fryer is quick for items like shrimp and the catfish; and the other items on their menu are mostly quick grilled items like pancakes, eggs, burgers and sandwiches. There are a couple of items on their menu like steaks and pork chops that take just a few minutes longer. I guess we could order them ahead of time to allow sufficient opportunity to get out of our van . . . or we could just have them cater. Sheesh! Where’s a good cop when you need ’em?