Soul Bistro serves comfort food made with love

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

It's only been open a month, but Soul Bistro “No Reservations Needed” is already fitting into the community and serving up food with “love.” 

Soul Bistro opened June 29 at 4507 Furling Lane, Unit 101, at The Plaza on Emerald Coast Parkway just east of Destin. It's open Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. On Saturdays, it is only open for dinner from 5-9 p.m. 

Valerie Chambliss and Nichole Taylor co-own the restaurant. 

Valerie Chambliss and Nicole Taylor own the Soul Bistro at The Plaza on Emerald Coast Parkway.

The women originally planned for the restaurant to be a “get it to go” kind of place, Taylor said. 

“But due to the blessing of the creation of the restaurant, people are coming in and staying,” she said. 

And business has been steady, Taylor said. 

A lot of that has to do with the menu, Chambliss said. 

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“I thought our specialty was going to be chicken … hot chicken and chicken wings,” Chambliss said, noting they serve it up fried, barbecued or baked. “Chicken was the thing, but then Nicole came in with her barbecue rib recipe and the ribs took off.

UPS driver Chris Cowan stopped by Soul Bistro on Wednesday for some "hot chicken."

“People come in and order the ribs. ... They sit here and eat, and say, 'Give me another rib.' So I think ribs is it right now,” she added. 

But chicken and ribs are not all they serve up. 

They also have pork chops, Salisbury steak and meatloaf. 

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“The meatloaf is a hit. People come in here and say I haven’t had meatloaf in years,” Chambliss said. 

The meatloaf is served up with mashed potatoes, green beans or collard greens. 

Black-eyed peas, cabbage, macaroni and cheese and pot roast also are on the menu. 

Valerie Chambliss shows off a tasty pork chop at Soul Bistro.

“It’s all made with love. ... That’s the key ingredient,” Chambliss said. 

As for desserts, the peach cobbler is made in-house two to three times a week and served with a scoop of ice cream. Other sweet treats include sweet potato pie, banana pudding, banana pie, chocolate cake and pound cake “made from scratch.” 

The women started out to be more of “grab and go” kind of place, but now they are looking at a place where people can come and eat and do other things as well. 

Chambliss said she like to ride motorcycles. 

Nicole Taylor, co-owner, of Soul Bistro "No Reservations Needed" dips some cabbage for a customer.

“I’m looking for those that pass by to have a place to come in for lunch,” she said. 

“I also like to play poker,” Chambliss added. 

So, starting Thursday, July 29, they are going to have a Texas hold’em poker night at the Bistro starting at 6:30 p.m. They will have wine and beer and chicken wings and more.

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On Wednesdays, they are going to have bingo starting at 1:30 p.m. with coffee and pastries. 

“You don’t have to be a snowbird. You don’t have to be a senior. You just need to want to play bingo and some fun and meet your neighbors,” Chambliss said. 

Nicole Taylor and Valerie Chambliss opened Soul Bistro in late June. They say they serve up everything with a "sprinkle of love."

Friday at the Bistro is seafood day with crab trays, which include crab legs, corn, potato, sausage and a boiled egg with honey butter garlic sauce. 

They also have crab cakes. 

In addition to the Bistro, the women provide family-style meals for families who are coming to the beach and staying in houses or condos. 

“We designed this to be Thanksgiving every day. And while you’re on vacation with your family, we want you to have an opportunity to do Thanksgiving even while you’re on vacation. Not necessarily turkey and dressing … although it could be,” Chambliss said. 

Soul Bistro is open Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. Saturday's hours are 5-9 p.m.

The family-style meals include everything from the meat to the dessert, plus fresh squeezed lemonade. 

“We love doing catering,” Chambliss said. “We are willing for people to use our facility (for family reunions or business meetings).

“You can bring them right here. ... We’d love to have them,” she added. 

As for the “no reservations needed” part of their company name, they want people to feel at home. 

Valerlie Chambliss says it's time to eat when you come to Soul Bistro.

“Let’s make something that when they walk in, they feel like they made a reservation,” Chambliss said. “We don’t treat people as visitors but as a guest. A visitor is someone you didn’t know was coming. We are already expecting guests.”

Chambliss said the word reservation is a “doubt.” 

“At our restaurant you’ll have no doubt that we are first, happy you are here. Second, thankful you came in here, because you could have chosen anywhere. And third, the seasoning that we use is sprinkled with love,” Chambliss said. “We’ve got love in everything we cook.”