As I scanned the two-page menu at CoraFaye's, a Southern-cooking hole in the wall tucked into a busy commercial strip of Colorado Boulevard, I kept one eye on the dessert table. It was laden with nearly half a dozen old-fashioned cake stands displaying frosted layers of double chocolate, red velvet, and coconut cream-cheese cake, not to mention cobblers and pies. These homespun cakes were studded with walnuts, sprinkled with coconut flakes, and dripped with swirls of hand-frosted, sugary goodness—I was definitely ordering dessert.
And I had every intention of saving room—until my platter of cornmeal-crusted, pan-fried catfish with side orders of black-eyed peas and tender collard greens arrived. Like the items on my plate, much of CoraFaye's food is crafted from 100-year-old family recipes and carefully rendered by chef, owner, and Alabama native Priscilla Smith. Open since 2006, CoraFaye has a hodgepodge menu—daily specials include pigs' feet and oxtail—that matches the kitschy decor, complete with wood paneling, sticky plastic tablecloths, and doilies.
But the mélange of food and sights blends well in the soft light cast by individual table lamps. Diners nestled in intimate booths or around family-style tables contentedly dig in to heaping plates of crispy fried chicken or pulled-pork sandwiches with sides of cornbread and creamy macaroni and cheese.
When I pushed my platter away—scraped clean, thank you very much—Smith meandered into the dining room, as she often does, wearing an apron and a smile. "Did you leave room for a slice of our cake today?" she asked. I glanced over at the cake table again and nodded greedily. Waistline be damned. Within minutes, a forkful delivered dense, but not heavy, coconut cake—its every frosted crumb the nostalgic bite of goodness I had hoped it would be. 2861 Colorado Blvd., 303-333-5551, www.corafayes.com