Los Angeles, CA–A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to try Annie’s Soul Delicious for the first time. I was pleasantly surprised at not only how good the food was but the atmosphere that Annie provided for her guests and staff.
Annalisa Mastoianni-Johnson, who goes by “Annie” for short, is in the Fairfax District serving some of the best soul food in Los Angeles if I must say so myself.
As a native of South Central, Los Angeles, Annie’s Soul Delicious is not the type of soul food spot that we grew up around–one owned and operated by a white woman. You wouldn’t be able to taste a difference in Annie’s soul food.
It would be hard not knowing who Annie is, considering she is completely hands on with her business. If you come into Annie’s Soul Delicious, you can catch her taking orders, engaging with customers and making sure business runs smoothly. The walls of Annie’s Soul Delicious is covered with the writings and words of support from customers.
Although only being opened as a brick and mortar for two years, the business is quickly becoming a L.A staple.
“I’ve been a business owner for about 27 years. Around three years ago we had the opportunity to do soul food. It was a niche not being done in this one catering realm that we worked in and people just loved it,” said Annie. “It’s really good to know that people love our food no matter where they come from, even from the south.”
Annie was introduced to Black culture and soul food very early in her life. Rick James sister Penny, is Annie’s Godmother. Her restaurant is like an ode to the 80’s—with music videos of artist like Prince playing on tv monitors as you place your order.
The walls of Annie’s Soul Delicious is lined with smiling Black faces, from those who are customers to family and friends of Annie’s.
“Penny cooked a lot of soul food so I would be the one in the living room snapping the peas. One year for thanksgiving, I cooked dinner for everyone and I always dreamed of having a restaurant. I just thought it was going to be Italian food or something like that.”
She started her food journey in the catering business at 27-years-old serving gourmet dishes to stars on specialized diets. One of Annie’s first customers was Forest Whitaker and she would go on to serve the likes of Sandra Bullock, to Matthew McConaughey as well as Queen Latifah.
The catering market would soon become oversaturated with soul food but one thing Annie prides herself in, is providing quality food to her customers. She has worked with chefs to perfect a menu and recipes that keeps her customers coming back.
Despite Annie’ Soul Delicious being open only from Thurs-Sun they have customers who will eat there each day they are open. In addition to serving amazing food and providing a warm and friendly atmosphere, Annie tries to involve herself with giving back, including collecting items from customers for a recent blanket drive.
“We started off doing soul food Sundays and now, we are doing better than we could have ever imagined, especially during such a rough time in peoples lives. We have a friendly atmosphere that people love to be part of it,” Annie expressed.
“From older people to rappers–they can all be in the same place and can all have fun and enjoy one another. It’s a true testament to where the world should be instead of the division that people see right now.”
As we sat down for our interview one of Annie’s employees fixed her necklace like she would do her mother, or someone else in her family that she cared for. With the institutional racism that plagues major cities across the U.S that is not exclusive to L.A–I appreciate Annie for providing job opportunities to young, Black-women and minorities through her soul food business.
Annie’s genuine relationship building with her employees should be noted. It can help local businesses understand what diversity and equity in the workplace really looks like, even if it’s just a soul food spot in L.A.
Check out Annies Soul Delicious on Fairfax and tell her that Slauson Girl sent you. Some of my favorite dishes were the brisket, mac and cheese as well as the yams.
1066 S Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90019