Best Place to Have Soul (2006)

Vern's Place

People may want to "keep Austin weird," but up north, we try to "keep Dallas plastic." Jags and Hummers speed up and down Central Expressway as big-name suits broker real-estate deals and wage high-dollar lawsuits in glassy office towers. But in a tiny white shack at the edge of Deep Ellum, a crew of home-cookin' connoisseurs at Vern's Place fix up Texas-style meals from 7 a.m. till 4 p.m. The food's great, from the chicken-fried steak to the mac 'n' cheese, but Vern's Place is as much about actual soul as it is about soul food. Folding tables are covered in red-checkered plastic tablecloths. If you want somethin' besides sweet tea, sonny, you're going to have to get it from the Coke machine. Chances are you'll end up waiting in the line next to a family of six from Pleasant Grove, a couple of cops on lunch break and some lawyers in Armani aiming to get a head start on a clogged artery or two. When people from all walks of life in this town unite in the holy name of deep-frying, well, that's soul.