Written by Katie Rosta


“You’re going to Ms. Tootsie’s? Oh, I don’t even need to pull up the directions!” 

Joseph, Lyft driver

So, what is soul food? Gabby Smalls, a self-proclaimed soul food expert, explains that it’s, “food that touches the soul, touches your inner being. When you think of soul food, you think of being at your grandma’s house and sitting around with your family. You sneak into the kitchen to ask your grandma for the first taste.” This is what eating at Ms. Tootsie’s Soul Food Cafe is like. 

Located at 1312 South Street in Philadelphia, people are drawn in by the chic decor and stay because it’s obvious that the food made with love. From the fashionable walls covered in decorative cushions in the Love Lounge to the suede booths in the World Bar, the customer feels extravagant just by entering the establishment. Ms. Tootsie’s has many different rooms, all with a unique style and mood to go along with it. Upon arrival, the customer is in the World Bar where the suede booths and unique light fixtures elicit a level of extravagance. From there, the customer can be taken to the Love Lounge, the R&B Lounge, the Sky Bar, or the Luxxe Lounge. Each of these has a different mood that it’s trying to convey. For example, the R&B Lounge seats its guests in red velvet or black leather booths while the Luxxe Lounge, which can be reserved for private parties, is decorated with candles and red velvet walls. Once seated, the customer can begin to look into what he or she truly came for: the food.

Ms. Tootsie’s Famous Tropical Blend Iced Tea with Corn Muffins and Strawberry Butter. Photo by Gabby Smalls.

The menu comes and you’re hungry just looking at the possible dishes that could be brought to the table, but first, drinks need to be ordered. Most first-timers opt for Ms. Tootsie’s Famous Tropical Blend Iced Tea. For those who are over the age of 21, they can taste the drink that people rave about: Grown Folks Iced Tea. It’s made up of their already stellar iced tea along with vodka, tequila, rum, gin, triple sec, and pineapple juice. Some other options for alcoholic drinks are The Code, Watermelon Fusion, and Envy

Grilled Salmon with Teriyaki Glaze. Photo by Gabby Smalls.

All of the food is made fresh using Ms. Tootsie’s recipes. A waitress at Ms. Tootsie’s, Heavenly, says, “The food is her recipe so [not just any] cooks just come in here and make it. It’s her recipe, we can’t change anything. If it’s spicy, it comes spicy.” During the wait for the food, the wait staff is constantly running to and from the kitchen in order to make sure that each customer has one of their signature corn muffins that pairs perfectly with strawberry butter. From there, many people order an appetizer such as Tootsie Pops Served with Sweet and Tangy Sauce or the Crab Mac & Cheese Balls. Then come the entrees. Customers are given a wide selection of options from Southern Fried Chicken to Grilled Salmon with Teriyaki Glaze. Also, all entrees come with the customer’s choice of two sides.

of the best-selling sides are the Cheesy Mac & Cheese, mashed potatoes, and Whipped Yams with Toasted Marshmallow Topping. Moving to desserts, if you still have room, there are many options to consider. If the customer is in the mood for chocolate, the Double Dare You Chocolate Cake is a fantastic option. People who prefer a fruity taste would like the Peach Cobbler with Vanilla Ice Cream. 

Tootsie Pops served with the check. Photo by Gabby Smalls.

Ms. Tootsie’s is a great place to go to treat yourself. Bring some friends or family to this restaurant if for an unforgettable experience. It’s a place that brings you happiness from the atmosphere, food, and the people. Ms. Tootsie never forgets to put the soul in her food.

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