The historic Vollentine-Evergreen neighborhood where I live recently gained a new soul food restaurant to go along with local institution Melanie's on Watkins, which I haven't gotten around to revisiting since my quest began. Since the recently-opened Cave's Soul Food and More on Jackson at Evergreen is so close to my house, I decided to wait until I'd made several visits before I posted a review.
The first time I stopped in it was with several friends after we'd spent an afternoon moving a gargantuan air compressor. I kept it simple on my visit with an order of barbecue bologna, beans and slaw. I asked for baked beans but they accidentally included green beans instead. They offered to correct the mistake, but by the time my order came out several friends who had ordered green beans ahead of me were already raving about them so I decided to keep them. They were packed with seasoning, cooked with a generous quantity of pork fat and ended up being some of the best green beans I've ever had. The slaw was also solidly good and the thick-cut barbecue bologna, which is a favorite comfort food of mine, was excellent. I also picked up a menu that showed the featured items for each day of the week, but every time I've visited there have been additional items available that aren't on the printed menu so if you go make sure to ask what else they've cooked for the day.
Macaroni and cheese: Still served at every soul food place in Memphis, but Cave's does call it a "side," not a "vegetable."
On my second visit I went for the rib dinner. The ribs had a good smoky flavor, but is was largely overpowered by the river of sauce they were swimming in. The sauce had a good, mildly sweet flavor but the amount was so excessive I ended up moping most of it off with my napkins. They also still had a lot of tough, unrendered fat on them. Between Cave's and my experience with Lil' Anthony's Cafe on Lamar I have a new rule: If a restaurant primarily identifies itself as a soul food restaurant but also offers barbecue, stick to the soul food. The baked beans were good, but definitely not as impressive as the green beans from my previous visit.
Unlike me, my wife is one of those genetically blessed individuals who can maintain a flat stomach and a healthy triglyceride to HDL cholesterol ratio while still eating starch-heavy foods like chicken and dumplings.
When I ordered my neckbones, I was torn between them and the excellent-looking meatloaf that I also saw available. I'll be returning soon to try that meatloaf. I've also heard from friends in the neighborhood that the giant, hand-pattied burgers at Cave's are some of the best in town. The restaurant is a welcome addition to the neighborhood and is now firmly on my mental list of nearby go-to carryout choices.