Down Home Dishes

New Truck Brings Taste Of Soul Food To Friendly City

Posted: June 4, 2014

Daily News-Record

Areyl Cleveland takes an order during the Taste of Soul opening June 2 at TRUCKS in Harrisonburg. (Photo by Nikki Fox / DN-R)
Angela Rouse (above) opened Taste of Soul with her daughters, Ebony and Areyl Cleveland. (Photo by Nikki Fox / DN-R)

Harrisonburg’s budding food truck scene has a new addition.

While dozens of mobile eateries can be found sprinkled around the city, dishing out everything from lobster to tacos to ssam — a Korean staple — and even grilled cheese, a new specialty is on the menu: soul food.

Parked at what’s been dubbed the TRUCKS lot on South High Street, Taste of Soul is dedicated to southern comfort.

“It’s soul food, so mama’s love is mixed in the batter,” Angela Rouse said with a laugh. Rouse, who runs the business with her two daughters, Ebony and Areyl Cleveland, added: “This is the type of food you come home for, the type of food you can’t get in a traditional restaurant.”

Following the “pinch of this, pinch of that” approach — as opposed to taking exact measurements — Rouse and her daughters spend the better part of the day cooking up recipes that have been passed down her family from generation to generation.

“We used to watch our grandmothers, mother-in-laws and aunts prepare food, and we’d just stand by and watch,” said Rouse. “It’s one of those things where we decide by eye that something is [finished frying], or by smell that the chicken is seasoned enough.”

Areyl added that the “generational” element helps define the young business while giving customers the opportunity to enjoy a menu that lends itself to nostalgia.

The menu boasts traditional southern items including friend chicken, hush puppies, fried potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and collard greens, in addition to seasonal items, such as corn on the cob. It’s a selection unlike any other in the Friendly City, maintains Rouse, offered by three local women who have spent the last 12 years working in the area.

“Our family has a good reputation in this community,” said Ebony, a Harrisonburg High School graduate.

“[Taste of Soul] is about local people supporting other local people, and that’s always a good thing.”

Taste of Soul is open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday and 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday. For information, call 578-7685.

Contact Matt Gonzales at 574-6265 or

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