The Lady & The Pit

Try This: Barbecue Brisket, Corn Bread
2220 Handley Drive | facebook.com

From a distance, this repurposed Pizza Inn in the Handley area of the east side may seem to lack the usual chutzpah associated with our city's best dining options. Step inside, and it's a different story: "The Lady" of this soul-food house, owner Natasha Smith, or one of her employees, will greet you with a smile, a menu and a comfy booth or table, and you'll feel right at home.

That's Smith's intent – to make you feel like you're not at a restaurant but at your own dining table, and your mom is in the kitchen, cooking your favorite dish. Here, that could mean any number of things: chicken-fried steak decked out in a king-size crust; meat loaf that heats up your mouth, then melts in it; barbecue brisket, lean and tender to the touch, smoked expertly by co-owner Kenneth Barton.

Sides are made in-house, including the pillowy corn bread; if you're lucky, you'll get a piece right out of the oven.

Ask Smith about her recipes, handed down by family members, and she's both vague and sentimental: "Everything is seasoned with love," she'll laugh. And you'll have absolutely zero reason to doubt her.