Casual Dining reviews

Not to be confused with Stephanie’s Restaurant, the drive-through location, Stephanie’s II is operated by the same owner and is a casual, eat-in operation known for its classic soul food menu.

The building, once a Quincy’s Steakhouse known for its big, fat yeast rolls, is now a shabby chic version of its former self. The parking lot is well-worn but completely packed during the height of lunch and dinner hours. The interior has an aged appearance and patina on it that only a well-loved place can have. The booths have sunken middles and feel more like rocking seats than the stable chairs placed at each table. There is plenty of room for your party of 25 or a special dinner for two.

Like many monuments that have withstood the test of time, Stephanie’s II is practically an institution in Greensboro. A literal list of who’s who including famous actors, performers, entertainers, musicians and dignitaries have eaten here, the most famous of them all: President Barack Obama.

The front entrance is a display of photos chronicling stars who have dined in, magazine articles, newspaper clippings and awards garnered in the past. Alongside the threat of a famous person strolling through the doors at any given moment, the food has reached an iconic status as well. Beans, greens, potatoes, tomatoes — you name it, they have it.

Most everything listed on the menu has “FAMOUS” in front of it. To guide you to the house specialties, a yellow asterisk highlights dishes such as the meatloaf, pork chop dinner and fried whiting filet.

All entrees are served with your choice of two sides and bread (cornbread, biscuit, yeast roll, hush puppies, white or wheat bread).

The Southern fried chicken wings are the best bet, served whole with the tips and drumettes intact. The pork chop dinner is a close second, served bone-in and available prepared barbecued, grilled or fried. Not on the regular menu, but available as a special, chitterlings seasoned with vinegar and hot pepper flakes make an appearance on the special board. There are over 20 sides available, including candied yams, baked beans, potato salad, turnip greens and macaroni and cheese. The macaroni came highly recommended from our server. The noodles are buttery and soft while the cheese on top is sharp.

The famous ribs, with a menu section unto themselves are large and plentiful. The half rack is plenty with six bones, if not more. Unfortunately, the meat was dry to the bone and tough to cut and to chew. The knife supplied with the fork was no match for cutting in between each bone to extract the meat. The tangy, sticky barbecue sauce was caramelized and while more sauce had been basted on top before they arrived at the table, it did not render them edible.

The okra was barely lukewarm but very crunchy and crisp. The whiting seems to be previously frozen, but the house-seasoned breading disguised most of that fresh-from-the-freezer flavor that cooking seems to dissipate.

The bone-in croaker, however, was served whole and fresh with a deep, golden brown crust. The fish was so delicious that eating the tail fin at the end of the meal was a crispy, crunchy savory treat. Furthermore, the tartar sauce was excellent. Chilled, bright and fresh with hints of lemon and dill, it was a creamy and welcomed foil for the hot fish.

The only pure vegetarian items on the menu are the desserts. The peach cobbler comes with lobes of canned sliced peaches buried in a crisp crust mixed with soft, buttery bits of dough infused with juice from the fruit with brown sugar caramelized at some of the edges. Banana pudding, sweet potato cobbler and a pecan caramel brownie are also good desserts to bet on when wishing to end your meal on a good note.

Whether you’re hoping for a celebrity sighting, wishing for a taste reminiscent of a grandmother’s cooking or need a place to accommodate your large party, Stephanie’s II is the place to be.

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Casual Dining features local restaurants for diners on a budget. It appears the second and fourth Thursday of the month. Contact Nikki Miller-Ka at nicolettemiller.ka@gmail.com.

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