Sundays in the South are usually the day when family and friends sit down and enjoy a hearty meal made from the soul. But if you’re not in the mood for cooking there are plenty of soul food restaurants around the city to enjoy not just on Sunday but everyday.

Craving candied yams and fried chicken? Here are my top picks in Charlotte.

(1) Freshwaters Restaurant

Owners Clifton (chef) and Sharon (hostess) Freshwater are new to the city, but not new to the soul food game. Freshwaters brings a New Orleans soul-food flavor to all of you catfish, jambalaya and creole fans. The restaurant features an elegant atmosphere and a fresh new bar.

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Serving Charlotte for three years, the Freshwaters are in the restaurant everyday except Mondays to greet their customers. Bringing flavors from his hometown of Elizabeth City, Clifton combines flavors from his hometown of Elizabeth City with what he learned from Louisiana chef Paul Prudhomme.

The restaurant closes for two hours between lunch and dinner so the couple can go to local fish markets to get fresh food.

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The breadless crab cake will have you dreaming about coming back for another one the next day. Be sure to also try Sharon’s Uptown drink. Made fresh daily, the Uptown is a hint of lemonade, tea and five top-secret added juices, with no sugar added — just the sweetness from the juice.

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Freshwaters Restaurant. Lunch: 12-3 p.m., Tuesday-Friday; Dinner: 5-9 p.m. Tuesday-Friday. Saturday 1:30-9:00 pm. Sunday 1:00-7:00pm. 516 North Graham St. 704-503-9629.

(2) Nana’s Soul Food Kitchen

If you’re in a hurry and need that quick soul food fix, Nana’s Soul Food restaurant is the perfect spot. The cafeteria-style restaurant has been serving the Charlotte community for five years and will celebrate its anniversary March 14 by going back to their original prices for one day only.

Shawn and Kiana Morrison decided to name the restaurant after Kiana’s grandmother and use her traditional cooking styles.

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Known for their fried chicken, Nana’s also has daily specials and every vegetable that you think of.

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Nana’s has two locations:

– 2908 Oak Lake Blvd., Charlotte: Monday-Sunday 11 a.m.-9 p.m. 704-357-3700.
– 240 Chestnut Parkway, Indian Trail: Monday-Sunday 11 a.m.-9 p.m. 704-821-8227.

(3) Queen’s Soul Food

Owner Tony Nguyen said it best: “If you don’t cook it right, it’s not Soul Food.”

Queen’s is named after Nguyen’s friend and has been in business for almost two years. So what does a man from the Vietnam know about soul food? A lot.

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Nguyen always had a passion to learn how to cook meals from the heart. With years of being in the kitchen and growing up with African-American culture, Nguyen has nailed the taste of soul Be sure to try Queen’s famous ox tails.

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Queen’s Soul Food. Monday-Friday 11 a.m.-9 pm. Saturday and Sunday 11a.m.-9:30 p.m. 7308 D E. Independence Blvd. 704-563-1106.

(4) La’Wan’s Soul Food Restaurant

La’Wan’s has been serving its famous grilled pork chops and barbeque turkey ribs for 15 years. Wanting a change from the corporate world, La’Wan and Kenneth Adams had a dream that they had a restaurant and soon after the business came alive.

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Their daughter, Akira, can be found working the register and managing staff with her huge smile.

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La’Wan’s Soul Food. Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Sunday 11 a.m.-9 p.m. 7520 S. Tryon St. 704-665-7225.

Photos: Star Connor; Queen’s Soul Food.

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