After reading Pssst's report on the St. Louis-style soul food reaturant Miya's Place (see link below), the girl and I have been there twice, once for dinner and once for breakfast, and very much enjoyed it. This is the ideal form (in my view) of a Chowhound find -- an underreported, neighborhood place with a lot of character and charm, and great eats.
Both visits found the place nearly empty -- there were a total of three other tables filled between our two trips. On a rainy night a week or two ago, I called over to see if they had any tables before venturing out into the cold, and the owner was convinced I must have the wrong number. "You must mean Maya's downtown. We don't take reservations." I convinced him I meant to go to their restaurant, and we found it empty when we arrived.
The girl is excellent at chatting up strangers, so we found out that all the recipes are family favorites, and that the names on the menu ("Poonball's Fried Chicken" and "Goonie's Oxtail") are family members' specialties. A husband and wife were running the shop that night, with their young daughter helping on table service. Goonie (who I believe is an aunt or a sister of the wife) makes the enormous cakes. They've been open for a year and a half or so.
The girl had Poonball's Fried Chicken with greens on the side, and I had a smothered porkchop special. After a conversation about oxtail, we also each had a sample oxtail joint. All of the dishes were great, with hearty flavors and gravies, without feeling too heavy or leaden at all. We took home some cake, coconut and chocolate, and certainly got more cake for $2.50 than I imagine is possible at any other SF restaurant -- the pieces are huge. The frosting was great, and the cakes were a little stale but still very tasty.
Today we went back for breakfast with our friend N-. The girl and N- each had the "SOS" breakfast -- biscuits and gravy with side dishes. I had a standard sausauge and eggs with hash browns. Again, everything was yummy: the biscuits were freshly made, the gravy delicious and not too heavy, the hash browns spicy and crisp, and the sausage fantastic.
Don't go here expecting anything fancy! There's a TV on in the background and the place looks like a slightly redone coffee shop. But do go, for the great food and the fantastic people. What more could you want?