So says Sarah…

Do you know the way to San Jose…..

Posted in About Food by Sarah Lipoff on 02/26/2012

Today has been a day. After waking with the sun (and the tot), the hubs and I did some research hunting for a fun and tasty restaurant near the San Jose airport. Why? Let’s just say we had a good friend flying in from the east coast and had a few hours to hang in San Jose.

Being from a bit more north than San Jose, we had no idea where to start.

When I did the initial search, In-N-Out, Chevron, and Mc D’s popped up, which aren’t the best locations for a leisurely and flavorful lunch, and introduction to the (extended) Bay Area for our friend.

As we headed out, I channeled my inner positivity and super-duper wished for something amazing to be hiding around-and-about the San Jose International (yeah, that’s right, International) airport.

And, then, there it was. Lillie Mae’s House of Soul Food.

Smoke was billowing in the sky and you could smell it. SMELL IT.

A hut of a place on the side of the airport beckoned us off the road. Sure, you could still see the air traffic control tower from the parking lot. Yes, the planes were just barely buzzing over the roof of the restaurant. Yup, the place looked like it might fall over…

But, in the time we waited for our friend to get himself off the plane and into his rental car, the parking lot over-loaded with cars and people and families and more cars of people continuously charging into the place. With a bit of outdoor seating, Lillie Mae’s has enough space to maybe sit 75 (and a staff that has no clue what’s going on) and food that will leave you thinking about it days later.

The guys out back were basting and turning the ribs, the bustling staff behind the tall bar (in front of the awesomely big fish tank) fresh-fryed the crispy cornmeal coated catfish by order, and someone somewhere was making the most amazing mac-n-cheese you will ever have ever – just ethereal. Because it was one of their first Sunday buffet seatings (and half of the restaurant was reserved for a private birthday party) no one really seemed to know what was happening, but it all worked out.

Fried chicken. BBQ ribs. Corn on the cob. Mac-n-cheese. CORNBREAD. Biscuits and gravy. Fried catfish. FRIED CATFISH. And more. Yes, I know. You are wondering why I don’t have pictures of the food to share. (I totally forgot because I was in food nirvana.)

The place was packed beyond packed.  You can get a beer or a soda at the House of Soul Food, order at the counter for take-out or eat-in, or watch the game on the big-screen TV. This place is literally next-door to the airport and it kicks In-N-Out’s ass any day.

So the next time you fly into the San Jose International airport, are picking someone up, or in the area for any reason, stop in to Lillie Mae’s House of Soul Food and try a brisket platter or sample some biscuits and gravy. Make it a Sunday destination for the ($20 a plate but worth it) Sunday Brunch Buffet. Get some ribs that will make your hands smell all day…

This place is out of control.

For reals.

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