Ace's dishes up homestyle fare

To many, the hallmark of a good soul food restaurant is its macaroni and cheese.

If that’s true, then Ace’s is the place. Their macaroni and cheese is simply divine, striking the perfect balance between cheesy, buttery and creamy.

Ace’s Soul Food Café in Woodlawn is far from the only soul food spot on the South Side. But its focus on fresh ingredients makes a visit worthwhile. 

The restaurant opened in July. Owner Ace Reed worked on rehabbing the restaurant for a year prior to opening.

 “This is an up and coming neighborhood and though things started out slow, I’m positive the restaurant will be the heart of the south side,“ says Reed.

Reed says he’s banking on community spirit, along with good food, to make the restaurant’s reputation.

He says he offers jobs to neighborhood residents, some of them with checkered backgrounds, who are struggling to make ends meet.

The menu offers a wide variety of traditionally prepared entrees, including short ribs, pork chops, fried chicken, smothered steak, and pepper steak.

Many are recipes from the cook’s family.

I found the baked chicken to be dry and bland. But everything else was soul-satisfying and left me wanting more, even though the servings were ample.

Among dozens of side dishes, the yams, dressing, greens and corn muffins were winners.

The yams were were perfectly sweet, the greens and dressing were well seasoned, and tasted homemade. The dressing was moist and tasted like it had hints of sage and poultry seasoning which is something that I like. 

My dining companion, a vegetarian, found a lot of options at Ace’s, including black eye peas, rice, potato salad and yams. And she raved about the succotash.

We split on the peach cobbler. She didn’t like it, but I did. The cobbler is thicker than some, and not as doughy as many. It was so creamy that I wondered if it might contain some pudding. The chef confirmed my suspicion.

Ace’s also offers takeout, and a fast-food menu for children.

It is located at 432 E. 63rd St.