Carmi Express Review – Soul Food Returns to the North Side

Published by Angie. Last Updated on May 19, 2020.

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Long a North Side institution, Carmi Soul Food was previously located on Western Avenue, relocated to South Side, and now has opened a second location dubbed Carmi Express back in the North Side (on Federal). Although Carmi Express is a takeout only joint, it still satisfies our cravings for chicken and waffles, barbecue, and other classic soul food.

A Condensed Takeout Menu at Carmi Express

Carmi Express To Go in the North Side

Ordering at Carmi Express is easy as you can either call ahead for pickup, walk in and order takeout, or order delivery. The menu includes barbecue ribs and wings, meatloaf, fried chicken, and fish, along with their house specialties of shrimp and grits and chicken and waffles.

There are also daily specials like smoked turkey legs, smothered pork chops, pulled pork, brisket, and salmon. And don't forget the sides like candied yams, greens, grits, and mac and cheese, just to name a few.

We were drawn to the house specialties so we tried the chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits, wings, and ribs- a nice cross-section of Carmi's menu.

Chicken and Waffles from Carmi Express

The chicken and waffles had good flavor – the chicken had a thick, crispy, peppery coating that was delicious with a bite of sweet waffle. We would have loved a crisper waffle and maybe some syrup on the side. The portion size was huge and more than enough for several meals.

The wings were quite large as they were the entire wing, and they were also satisfyingly peppery. The ribs were fatty and tender and covered in a sweet barbecue sauce.

Single Rib, Chicken wing, and Sides from Carmi's

Normally sides are somewhat of an afterthought but we actually really enjoyed all of the side dishes we tried here – candied yams, greens, and cornbread. The yams were mashed and rich with a brown sugar sweetness while the greens were garlicky and tender with a punch of vinegar. The cornbread was on the sweet side and had a crunch from stone-ground cornmeal.

Do Not Miss the Shrimp and Grits

Carmi's Shrimp and Grits is a Must Try

But by far our favorite dish of all was the shrimp and grits. A generous amount of plump, juicy shrimp was layered on top of incredibly cheesy, saucy grits. These were not lackluster, under-seasoned grits; I could have eaten a giant bowl of just the grits they were so good. There was a ton of Cajun-style seasoning permeating the whole dish – and did I mention the monstrous mound of melty cheese?! We are still thinking about how good this dish was weeks later!

We thoroughly enjoyed our food from Carmi Express and are so happy to welcome them back to the neighborhood! We definitely envision more shrimp and grits orders in our future, as well as checking out some more of the daily barbecue specials.

Carmi Express is located at 1219 Federal Street in the North Side.

Looking for more restaurants in the North Side? Check out our neighborhood guide at the previous link to read about all of our favorites nearby!

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