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The journey starts here.

Image: Alice Levitt

"The Heights? Where that at?" the server asked me. I had just told him that while Big Sarg's Home Cookin' is more than half an hour out of my way, I would make it a point to return. He accepted my response that my 'hood was next to Montrose and seemed slightly bemused that I'd traveled that far to eat at his cafeteria-style restaurant off FM 1960 near I-45 North. Clearly, he didn't know his own power.

When I chose Sarg's as my lunch destination on a Saturday jaunt to the National Museum of Funeral History, just south of Spring, I wasn't expecting fireworks, either. I was surprised by the neat, modern interior, but the high-top tables and TVs tuned to CNN and ESPN didn't say old school soul food comfort to me. Fortunately, the food did.

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Smothered pork chops, $10.99.

Image: Alice Levitt

It was a toss-up whether to go with the old faithful of smothered pork chops or new-to-me fried wings stewed in a midnight-hued sauce of reduced Coca Cola. But when the counter staffer showed me the pork, my decision was made. Fat and lean meat melted together in fork-tender shreds as I tore into the thin, bone-in chops. The peppery gravy, thick and sticky with collagen, oozed over a pile of fluffy white rice, enveloping every grain. The sauce even worked its magic on a baggie full of crumbly, if slightly dry cornbread.

The tantalizingly acidic mac-and-cheese could have used a trip in the microwave, so I focused my attentions on the collard greens. The veggies melted in a vinegared, heavily seasoned braise that made them the best I've tried so far in Houston. I would return for the collards alone, and as an antidote to that bit of healthfulness, I'll order another big cup of watermelon Kool-Aid with the flavor of a thousand melted Jolly Ranchers. Coca Cola wings, consider yourself warned.

Big Sarg's Home Cookin', 376 FM 1960W, Ste. L, 281-586-8222, bigsargshomecooking.com

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Big Sarg's Home Cookin'

$ Soul Food, Southern 376 FM 1960

It's facing away from the street in a strip mall in North Houston, but the home cooking at Big Sarg's is worth seeking out. The smothered pork chops are serv...

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