Soul N The Wall | Detroit’s Boogaloo Wonderland Sandwich

Review by: Michael Stern

Musical Origins of a Sandwich

Back in the 1960s, “Boogaloo” was a style of music and dance that fused mambo with rhythm and blues. Boogaloo implied soulfulness with a Latin beat, vaguely parallel to the way reggae mixed soul and Caribbean music.

What does this have to do with Roadfood in Detroit? The answer is plenty. Just when pop culture noted Boogaloo, Jean Johnson of Detroit’s Brothers BBQ created the Boogaloo sandwich. The implication was that, like the music, the sandwich was wild, sexy, and crazy-good.

Ms. Johnson loaded pork, sauteed onions, and American cheese into a hero roll and topped them with what she called “Sauce of the Islands.” It is said to have resembled a dark red barbecue sauce with notes of garlic and molasses, herbs and pepper heat. She heated it just long enough for the cheese to melt and the ingredients to fuse.

The Boogaloo Is Beyond Compare

Some called the Boogaloo sandwich a deluxe sloppy Joe. But no mere sloppy Joe ever earned such loyal fans. The Boogaloo sandwich became a signature specialty of Detroit.

When we went looking for it in the early days of Roadfood, we couldn’t find one anywhere in or around the Motor City. Brothers BBQ had gone out of business. We assumed the Boogaloo sandwich was history.

The Boogaloo Reborn

Then in 2007 along came Greg Beard and his restaurant Soul N the Wall. After much trial and error, Mr. Beard recreated the famous sauce. A Detroit legend was reborn! He replaced the sandwich’s pork with seasoned ground beef. (“Because so many people do not eat pork,” he says.) And he added the word Wonderland to the name of the sandwich as an ode to his friend Allee Willis, who wrote Earth, Wind & Fire‘s “Boogie Wonderland.”

Full Menu

Beard stretched the definition of the Boogaloo by adding steak, chicken, and veggie Boogaloos to his menu. Beyond iterations of the unique sandwich, Greg’s Soul N the Wall offers a broad array of such favorites as grilled pork chops, giant turkey wings, catfish, whiting, and even some impressively large hamburgers. The management likes to point out that its vegetables are cooked without fatback or hambone. In other words, pork-free eaters can enjoy them.

You Can’t Eat Here

As for style of service, Mr. Beard likes to say that he runs a carry-out restaurant with sit-down style. There is no indoor dining, but neither is anything ready-made. When you walk into Greg’s Soul N the Wall and tell them what you’d like to eat, a member of the staff goes back to the kitchen, where your meal is made to order.

Note the limited hours of operation. Soul N the Wall is open for lunch and early dinner. It closes at 7pm, at 5pm on Sunday.

Directions & Hours

What To Eat

Soul N The Wall | Detroit’s Boogaloo Wonderland Sandwich Recipes

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What do you think of Soul N The Wall | Detroit’s Boogaloo Wonderland Sandwich?

3 Responses to “Soul N The Wall | Detroit’s Boogaloo Wonderland Sandwich”

Carolyn Perkins

May 12th, 2022

What’s In a Boogaloo sandwich? Seriously!! I don’t think we have anything like it here in New Orleans! Would like to know how to prepare it for my family. It would be great for movie nights with the grand kids.

Reply

KJ

February 12th, 2022

Thank you for growing gardens throughout the city and saying on TV that we need to get back to what is basic and healthy human life <3 <3 <3

Reply

Heidi Ross

February 10th, 2022

Thank you for featuring my fellow Mumford grad’s business in your show. I found the whole show uplifting.

Reply

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