You know how some people just seem to get lucky and win things? Yeah, we are not those people. Until we won “Bunny Bingo” over Easter hosted by Marshall Mainstreet. Included in our basket were some gift certificates for lunch at McKee’s Soul Food on N. Wellington St. downtown Marshall, TX. We were greeted at the door and took our time perusing the menu on the giant chalkboard inside. We introduced ourselves to the owner, Tara McKee and she graciously suggested we eat first and chat after. We were hungry so no problem there.
There were a lot of lunch specials to choose from and I ordered the fried pork chop with turnip greens and fried okra. The husband went for the chicken fried steak and gravy with cabbage and corn nuggets. The husband has lived his entire life without ever tasting chicken fried steak. Let’s just say that is not a staple on menus in Southern Ca. My pork chop was bone-in so it was super tender. My turnip greens were absolutely delicious, I’m sure the bacon they were cooked with didn’t hurt. I added a little Louisiana Hot Sauce and I couldn’t stop eating them. Fried okra was pretty standard. The husband shared some chicken fried steak with me. Even after eating his fill and sharing he still had about a half portion left over. The steak was tender and not greasy. The corn nuggets were like little fried sweet bites of goodness.
After we ate more than we probably should have we were joined by husband and wife owners Voneric and Tara McKee. With 23 years of marriage between them my first question was how do you like working together? Little did I know the couple had been working together long before McKee’s Soul Food opened nearly 2 years ago. As full time pastors at Full Gospel Holy Temple in Carthage, Texas, Voneric and Tara have been teaming up daily for 11 years. Voneric goes from playing the piano to the pulpit and Tara plays drums and teaches Sunday School. When I asked how they made the jump from leading a congregation to the restaurant business they told me it was a natural progression. Originally they had started selling BBQ and a few side dishes as a means to help fund their church. When they gained popularity for their home cooked Southern food and an opportunity to open a restaurant presented itself in Marshall, TX they took a leap of faith. Both had a passion for cooking instilled by their Mothers.
Voneric grew up in Elysian Fields and Tara is from Shreveport, LA. Tara takes care of the business dealings and front of the house while Voneric’s strength is in the kitchen. While the two overlap, especially during busy times prepping holiday meals and catering events you can see they navigate the challenges of working together with a sense of humor. Both smile easily and when asked about the challenges versus the rewards of owning their own restaurant the answer was the same. Feeding people and seeing their customers leave happy. Voneric confessed he is hard to please when it comes to food and he holds himself to a high standard. Vegetables like cabbage, field peas, squash and turnip greens come in fresh. Ingredients are purchased locally and as a result they have a loyal customer base. So loyal in fact, one couple comes for lunch every single day. Yes, you read that right. Every. Single. Day. I’m not sure if there is a better testament than that for the food being consistently good. The menu changes seasonally but you will find the same delicious staples like fried chicken, hot water cornbread, and some of their most requested dishes, homemade dressing and buttercream pound cake.
Needless to say we will be back. If you haven’t tried McKee’s it’s a little treasure that will bring back memories of your Grandma’s or your Mom’s cooking. We think you will leave with a full stomach and a smile on your face.
McKee’s BBQ & Soul Food
211 N Wellington St, Marshall, TX 75670