Santa Rosa Mall may not be the first place you’d think of when looking for a place to eat, but Julie’s Southern Joy Home Style Cookin’ will give you a reason to look again.

The eatery opened more than a year ago in the food court of the longtime Mary Esther shopping complex, but many people, including myself, are only now discovering it. My guest and I tried it on what turned out to be a busier than usual day at the mall, which was having a Christmas in July event complete with Santa dressed in beach attire for photo ops.



Julie’s menu features an almost cafeteria-style schedule. Each day two specific entrees are offered along with a specific blue plate special.

For example, the day we went, which was a Saturday, the entrees available were fried chicken strips or sausage with peppers and onions. The blue plate special was meatball stroganoff with noodles.

Every entree, including the blue plate special, comes with two sides and a biscuit.

Everyday sides include macaroni and cheese, collard greens, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, fried okra and fried cabbage.

Each day also offers two special sides. Saturday, those are fried potatoes and lima beans.

Other days’ entrees are — Monday, meatloaf or baked chicken; Tuesday, smothered pork chop or chicken pot pie; Wednesday, fried chicken or lasagna; Thursday, chicken tetrazzini or pot roast; Friday, shrimp-sausage boil or fried catfish; and Sunday, beef tips over rice or fried chicken.

I’ve seen Facebook comments from people I actually know raving about the catfish on Friday. You also may see the rest of Julie’s daily menu on Facebook, including the blue plate specials and special sides.

My guest chose the fried chicken strips for his entree with macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes and gravy as his sides.

He said the chicken was excellent as was the macaroni and cheese. His standards for mashed potatoes are high, and he deemed these as good and ate every bite.

He would have liked some kind of condiments for his chicken strips. None was offered or readily available, and we didn’t ask.

I chose the meatball stroganoff blue plate special for my entree with sides of collard greens and green beans. Everything was flavorful and delicious. Nothing was overly spiced or, on the other end of the spectrum, bland. Pepper sauce was available for the greens, but I don’t use it.

I enjoyed it all, and want to give special praise to the biscuit. I was expecting something dense and chewy or maybe even dry. Instead, it was light and fluffy and practically melted in my mouth. I wanted more.

Julie’s offers several dessert options. I had the banana pudding, and my guest had the pecan praline bread pudding. Both were nice sweet endings to our meals.

Other dessert offerings the day we visited included ice cream and slices of cake.

Available beverages are Coca-Cola soft drinks, Fanta Orange, sweet and unsweet tea and pink lemonade.



As noted earlier, Julie’s Southern Joy is in the food court of the mall, in what I think was the Sbarro pizza location previously.

Seating is at tables in the court. On this summer day, sun streamed through the skylights creating a bright, inviting space.

We enjoyed sitting, chatting and watching people come and go. Julie’s easily was the main attraction as a steady flow of diners ordered lunch.



Julie’s service matches its menu in that it is sort of cafeteria style.

You walk along the counter and choose from the display of food. A server dishes it into a Styrofoam divided box. The entree goes in the largest section, sides in the two smaller ones and the biscuit on top.

Desserts are packaged separately.

You order drinks and pay at the end of the counter and carry your food to the table of your choice.

Julie's Facebook page says they also offer catering service for events.



Julie’s Southern Joy Home Style Cookin’ offers a tasty dining option at Santa Rosa Mall. It's fast but it's not fast food. It's food like you would make at home for a sit-down, relaxed family meal.

I definitely want to go back on a different day and try something else. As long as it comes with one of those amazing biscuits, I can’t go wrong.