Next to the day's special dishes, the chalkboard at Alluette's Café proudly proclaims a few phrases that may shock loyalists to the fried-chicken school of soul food: "Vegans Welcome," "This is a no Pork Cafe," "Organic & Natural Products," and "Fresh Local Seafood." Alluette Jones-Smalls has been cooking up what she calls "holistic soul food" in various ventures since 1993, but after she overcame the cancer that nearly claimed her life, she embraced the concept of fresh ingredients, free of toxic chemicals, with more vigor than ever.
Now, she's come back to her Charleston roots at Aluette's Café. She cooks everything up to order, which takes a little longer—but Travel + Leisure magazine makes it clear that it's worth the wait, calling the food "vegetable-centric, truly luscious, Southern food." O, The Oprah Magazine's Celia Barbour praised the shrimp as "quite possibly the tastiest … I've ever eaten, dusted with spicy flour and fried so lightly that each sweet crustacean bore a crisp, fragile shell." Alluette doesn't add sugar to any of her dishes or drinks—including her signature Aunt Mary's iced tea, which is sweetened with fruit juice.
Guests can admire the local artwork on Alluette's brightly painted walls as they wait for local shrimp over organic, seasonal greens or hormone-free grilled chicken with brown rice and lima beans. Alluette frequently invites live musicians, poets, and other artists to perform in the shop, and out on the patio, herbs and flowers uproot themselves to waltz for diners.