Known for its turkey and homemade dressing lunch special, warm atmosphere and the jazz music of longtime former owner Dr. Maurice G. Portis, Portis Kountry Kitchen has been a hidden gem of sorts since the restaurant’s inception in 2003. Formerly housed in the basement of the uptown Wells Fargo building and frequented by residents of neighboring office buildings, Portis, now operating as PKK Southern Cuisine, has undergone a few changes while remaining true to its original intent: to provide locals with a southern cuisine experience, which entails more than just food.
When the time came for Dr. Portis to sell the business, Joseph and Katina Stith took their catering backgrounds and jumped at the opportunity to bring their restaurant dreams to life. Joseph, an Air Force veteran turned restaurateur, and Katina, an advocate against human trafficking and board member of the Black Chamber of Commerce, tweaked recipes, gave the basement location a face-lift after COVID and infused their southern cuisine lived experience into the menu items at PKK.
In the summer of 2023, the Stiths brought the uptown establishment to downtown on Chaparral Street, complete with large southeast-facing windows, jazz, brunch and home-style daily specials the Corpus Christi clientele has come to love.
“We grew up with our grandparents and aunts that grew their own food on their own land and served it at the table. That’s what southern cuisine is to us,” said Katina. As for what she hopes PKK provides for its patrons? “Our vision is Southern hospitality — come to our table and let us feed your soul. It doesn’t matter what your race is or your relationship to the person, the table is a way to bring peace. It brings people together. We can leave the craziness on the outside and take a breath in here.”
The comfort food draws people, and the consistent and welcoming environment keeps them returning. The Georgia peach chicken and waffles are a must-order at Saturday brunch. The warm, soft interior of the waffle is countered with the crisp exterior of the perfectly golden fried chicken and is topped with house-made syrup. Long-time favorite menu items include collard greens and “famous fried chicken,” turkey and homemade dressing on Thursdays and the smothered pork chop with a slice of sweet cornbread, green beans and mac ’n cheese. Don’t skip the pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon with a brown sugar sauce, served at dinner only.
The Stiths’ commitment to hospitality is palpable. From their background in public service to PKK’s commitment as a second-chance employer and the generous discount offered to veterans, Joseph and Katina are solidifying PKK’s place as a mainstay in Corpus Christi. The food is good, there is no denying it, but Katina’s motto that “no one should ever be hungry” is the lifeblood of the establishment and speaks to the couple’s belief that cuisine and culture go hand in hand, and sharing that with others can go a long way in building a community.
Contact: 213 S. Chaparral | @pkk_oasis