For about 6 years, perhaps more, I’ve been wanting to go to Charles’ Southern Kitchen up in Harlem. Yesterday, finally, was the day.

On 151st and Frederick Douglas Blvd., in the shadow of the Macombs Dam Bridge and a spit from Yankee Stadium, there are actually three Charles’. One is takeout, the other is seafood takeout, and the third is the legendary All You Can Eat Buffet. One enters the third location and is suddenly confronted with one of those half-doors. Before you enter, you pay. There’s a cashier behind a plexiglass wall to your right and an ATM right in front of you. Once you enter, you’ll notice six small tables and, off to the side, a buffet bar that, quite frankly, isn’t that impressive to look at.

And then you bite into the chicken. The fabled chicken. Oh my God the chicken. Without a hint of grease, yet completely moist on the inside. A little spicy on the outside. I. . . .I just don’t know what I can say. If you wanna try it for youself, let me know when you are going and I’ll go with you.

Here is Ann enjoying some Sweet Tea. And they really mean it. It was almost more honey than tea:


Here is me enjoying corn bread:


Here is the bar. Good things come in unexpected packages:


You are looking at Ox Tails, some serious ribs, some hardcore Mac & cheese (with a little Cayanne pepper sauce on ’em) and a small chicken wing off to the side. Why didn’t I take more photos of the glorious chicken? Because my first plate was all chicken, and I was whirling in such epicurean fancy that taking photos was the last thing on my mind:


Ann’s plate has some Collared Greens and Yams:


The Buffet entrance:


The non-seafood takeout. There was a woman that came into the Buffet bar who wanted some lemonade. Apparantly, she was next door, about to place an order, but they had no lemonade to sell her. So she came in to our location, but was told that they can’t sell anything to go. So, basically, even though she was ready to pay, the rules were set against her getting what she wanted. Half-jokingly she told the cashier, “You tell Charles that he & I are gonna’ fight! I’m going over to the Chinaman today!!”


I think Charles could take her. Here is Ann & I with the greatest genius in New York City. The legendary Charles himself. As Ann & I were exiting I said to Ann, “Oh, man, that was good chicken.” I then heard a voice reply, “Thank you!” I turned and saw this man. I wanted to embrace him, to thank him for making this planet just that much of a better place to live. Instead we got a picture, taken by a woman whose name I never got and who probably thought Ann & I the two biggest doofuses ever to cross 125th St: