Niki’s West

Worth a detour

Although vegetables are big at Niki’s, a quaint country greenmarket it is not. All around it, trucks rumble past serving warehouses where produce is loaded and shipped. The truckers eat at Niki’s, but it’s no typical truck stop diner. In fact, Niki’s does not quite fit any genre of restaurant. It is a low-slung banquet hall with signs in its vestibule warning customers: “No Tank Tops, No Bare Feet, No Rollers on Head.” If you can live with the rules, you enter a cool, commodious space with a nautical/Aegean theme (fish nets, scenic pictures, mounted fish) and a cafeteria line where servers sell the food with the speed and enthusiasm of an auctioneer: “Have yourself a nice little seeded roll! … Look at these smooth mashed potatoes … Don’t those beef ribs look big and fine?”

Families, blue-collar and white-collar workers, bargain-hunters, and big eaters wind through the fast-moving line piling trays with plates and bowls of food. Seafood abounds – baked fish Creole, broiled mackerel, grilled amberjack – and there is always delicious baked Greek chicken; but it’s vegetables that set appetite awhirl. We counted more than three dozen vegetables in the cornucopic array, including yellow squash casserole, fried green tomatoes, black-eyed peas, and three different kinds of seasoned greens (turnip, collard, and spinach), all guaranteed by one impassioned server to be “ninety-eight percent fresh, except for some dried peas we use.”

Some lovely items from the market are austere enough to please any fatphobe, such as sliced tomatoes, raw vegetable vinaigrette, and baby lima beans, but most of Niki’s produce is prepared according to the more voluptuous southern-café tradition. Broccoli is mixed with cheese and rice in a crazy-rich melange; tomatoes are stewed with sugar and shreds of torn white bread until they become as sweet as cobbler; bright orange yams are infused with sugar; crunchy-fresh okra is sheathed in a deep-fried crust.

What to Eat
Niki’s West, Macaroni & Cheese
Macaroni & Cheese
Thick and ultra-cheesy mac & cheese
Niki’s West, Fried Okra
Fried Okra
Crunchy, salty fried okra: Niki's best side dish?
Niki’s West, Coconut Cream Pie
Coconut Cream Pie
Lightweight coconut cream pie
Niki’s West, French Coconut Pie
French Coconut Pie
French coconut pie is reminiscent of chess pie.
Niki’s West, Cajun Catfish
Cajun Catfish
Cajun catfish: no bones to worry about
Niki’s West, Lemon Meringue Pie
Lemon Meringue Pie
Lemon meringue pie is a customers' favorite.
Niki’s West, Collard Greens
Collard Greens
Collards are one of a few dozen available vegetables.
Niki’s West, Butter Beans
Butter Beans
Butter beans
Directions and Hours
open now
Monday10:30am - 5pm
Tuesday10:30am - 5pm
Wednesday10:30am - 5pm
Thursday10:30am - 5pm
Friday10:30am - 5pm
This restaurant is featured in the following eating tours.
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Open Year Round
Meals Served
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Credit Cards Accepted
Alcohol Served
Outdoor Seating

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