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Spaces: Soulfood in the heart of the Midwest

November 26, 2012 at 10:45 pm

By Kate Atkinson’15

Rose’s Soul Food Restaurant is located at the intersection of Short and Broad streets, just across from the Salvation Army in Beloit. The unassuming one-story building has minimal signage and sits in the corner of a parking lot, so it can be easy to miss if you’re not looking out for it.

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As I approach the restaurant on a chilly Sunday evening, joined by Santiago Quintana’15, several cars occupy the lot and we are instantly intrigued by a sign in the window that boasts, “Ribs so tender, need no teeth.” Rose’s consists of two conjoined rooms, the restaurant and Clancy’s Lounge. The latter houses a pool table, old arcade games, and large speakers, which on this particular Sunday were playing a boisterous mix of oldies and ’80s pop.

Rose’s is about to enter its sixth year of business, but the owner (and namesake of the restaurant) has been cooking for her entire life. “We had the biggest garden in South Beloit,” says Rose of growing up in the area. “We were always cooking with a lot of fresh food.” Rose has been cooking for her large family, friends, and neighbors for as long as she can remember, so opening a restaurant was a natural move.

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According to Rose, her restaurant is the only place within 100 miles that serves real southern soul food, which ranges from the aforementioned barbeque ribs to fried corn, southern smothered pork chops, peach cobbler and, for a limited time from November to February, chitterlings (pig intestines). Rose assures me that the sign in the window is true – her ribs are so tender, you don’t need teeth to enjoy them. “That’s how they do it down South,” she tells me. “It’s a secret what’s in it, but they’re smothered for a long time.”

Our waitress, Lisa, is friendly and seems to know everyone who comes into the restaurant and Rose herself is warm and welcoming. She has garnered many regulars over the years, including a good number of Beloit students. Our dinners are delicious and the combined total comes to less than fifteen dollars. Rose’s offers a vegetarian special (choice of 3 sides and a hunk of cornbread) and a 15 percent discount to students when they bring their college I.D.

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Food usually takes a while to arrive at Rose’s – we arrived at 6 p.m. and didn’t leave until an hour and a half later – but that’s just part of the experience. The pace of the restaurant is leisurely, all the better to admire the décor or sip on a sweet tea while listening to the chatter of happy customers. For a good home-cooked meal close to campus, Rose’s is worth the wait.