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Down home cookin’ served up at Zion eatery

Owner Richard Lewis his dining room Soul 4 Real Tuesday January 29 2013 Zion. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media

Owner Richard Lewis in his dining room at Soul 4 Real on Tuesday, January 29, 2013 in Zion. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media

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Soul 4 Real

2340 Sheridan Road

(847) 731-8177

Call for hours of operation.

Soul 4 Real delivers.

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For down home country comfort food for lunch or dinner, and service that aims to please, step on over to Soul 4 Real in Zion.

Nine months ago, owner Richard Lewis relocated his restaurant from a strip mall in Waukegan, where it was for three years, to a former Taco Bell on Sheridan Road.

And he’s glad he did.

“We get a lot more people, and they come from all over — Winthrop Harbor, Zion, Waukegan, Racine, Kenosha. Many of them are from the Navy base, and some from Gurnee,” said Lewis, 33, of Waukegan. And there are out-of-towners that stay at nearby hotels.

It can be said that the fare here is memorable. Take it from some recent comments on the Soul 4 Real Facebook page and other sites where diners show their delight: “BIG time, down-deep soul food flavors,” said one customer. “Awesome food,” noted another. “You’d think your grandmother was in the kitchen,” one woman chimed. “Can I get an AMEN!” shouted another.

The regulars call it their “go-to place.” For many customers, the made-from-scratch dishes, including smothered pork chops, collard greens and peach cobbler, are reminiscent of younger days and times when many, who later relocated to Lake County, lived down south. Lewis himself said he and his family hail from Louisiana.

“I’ve put together these recipes from family and close friends, because this is what we enjoy,”

said the owner. Other favorites include baked or fried chicken, barbecued ribs, black eyed peas, homemade cornbread, macaroni and cheese, meatloaf, caramel cake and banana pudding.

“And don’t forget our catfish,” said Lewis. “It’s the best in Lake County. Put me to the test, we (have) the best.” There are catfish dinners and catfish sandwiches here.

For a limited time, Soul 4 Real is offering half-off a regularly priced meal of $8.99, with the purchase of a second meal at $8.99 or more.

Lunch specials include a three-piece catfish dinner with a side of French fries and cornbread for $6.99 every day.

Lewis, a single father to Ashley, 10, is assisted at the place by his mother, Rebecca, his brother, David, and loyal employees Ke-ke and Gia.

There is a window on the side of the building where customers can pick up their phoned-in orders, and inside the cafeteria-style setting is tables and booths — enough for 50 people.

The place has been doing a lot of catering, and in fact is set to feed several hundred at a Dreamer’s Breakfast Jan. 26 at Central Middle School in Zion. “I’m looking at the possibility of opening for breakfast here, too,” said Lewis.

Between greetings to Sunday afternoon diners on his busiest day of the week, Lewis explained how he learned the food trade early on as a teen. He worked in fast-food restaurants and landed a job at Popeye’s Chicken, where he worked for 15 years. By the age of 19, he was promoted to a manager of Popeye’s, he said.

“While I ran a corporate place for many years, there were things that I had to learn with having my own restaurant,” said Lewis.

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