As you walk into Chef Lee’s, three things strike you immediately: the mouth-watering aroma of its soul-food cooking; the wonderfully nostalgic ’50s-style lunch counter; and the family atmosphere. And you’re in for a history lesson here: images of famous black figures cover the walls — Nelson Mandela, Ella Fitzgerald, Martin Luther King Jr., Desmond Tutu, and Langston Hughes among them. But although pride in black culture is the décor’s main theme, Chef Lee’s doesn’t forget its pride in Boston, and Patriots and Celtics posters also hang in the eatery.
Breakfast at Chef Lee’s is a good deal. The egg-and-cheese sandwich comes with bacon or sausage for $3.50. Specialty items, including Chef Lee’s renowned steakburger with fries ($4.95) and grilled boneless breast of chicken ($3.95), are also money-savers. But it’s with the dinner menu, featuring nine soul-food greats, that customers are really in for a treat. Try fried, barbecue, or baked chicken ($7), barbecue spare ribs ($9), oxtails ($8), or fried or smothered pork chops ($9.50). The fried catfish ($7) is especially good, with delicious batter and soft meat. All dinners come with moist corn bread and a choice of two sides: collard greens (cooked just right), string beans, black-eyed peas, candied yams, mashed potatoes, a superb baked macaroni and cheese, corn, potato salad, or beans and rice. Extra sides can be had for $2 apiece. Dessert — peach cobbler, sweet-potato pie, and cake — are not only a great bargain ($2 each), but delicious to boot.
You’ll leave Chef Lee’s stuffed and happy to have paid so little for tasty food, large portions, and friendly service. Just make sure to arrive for dinner by 7:45 p.m., or the door may be locked.
Chef Lee’s Famous Soul Food, located at 1160 Blue Hill Avenue, in Dorchester, is open Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Call (617) 436-6634.