Updated: 5 days ago
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I think I have the best job in the world. Period.
Yes, as a content creator and writer, my income is unpredictable. Yes, I have to buy my own health insurance on the open market, which sucks. Yes, being chronically online can't be great for my mental health.
But, I get to indulge my own curiosity for work and learn new skills, meet new people, and constantly expand my awareness. For example, I'm deeply curious about the work of Black people and communities in connection with food and beverage in the U.S. I've spent years learning about that, writing a book about it, meeting Black food folks, and learning more about their stories, and exploring the depth and breadth of Black foodways and culinary expertise across the U.S.
In doing so, I've tried hundreds of Black-owned restaurants, from the fanciest of fancy to food trucks and carry-out spots. Among those, there are definitely projects that rise to the top of my memories that I'd visit again and again whenever I have the chance. That's what I'm sharing below.
I won't call them the "best" Black-owned restaurants in the country, as "best" is highly subjective and taste is deeply personal. I will say, however, that these are my favorites as someone with a depth of experience who continues to explore Black-owned businesses everywhere I go. The below are in no particular order as well; there's no top to bottom ranking.
And a couple of notes: Given the nature of my work at some of the places below, I consider the owners or chefs friends. At others, I may have visited as part of a work project where I'm filming for social media. At a couple of the below, I was given *free food, though that's not a necessity or even a standard practice when I'm visiting a restaurant for my work with Feed The Malik. I also do not care if a business is 100% Black-owned. If one owner or partner is Black, I count it as Black-owned. The expectation that Black people succeed in business only when doing so in a way deemed "pure" is unrealistic and limiting.
Here Are My 10 Favorite Black-Owned Restaurants In The U.S.
The Larder & The Delta - Phoenix, AZ
A Southern restaurant in Phoenix? Yes! The Larder and the Delta was voted Arizona's best farm-to-table restaurant by Travel & Leisure Magazine and is a multi-time James Beard Award Semifinalist. The menu changes seasonally, and dinner features a host of veggie-centric dishes that really stand out, as well as well-executed takes on Southern classics from crispy chicken skins to gumbo.
The Garage At Victory North - Savannah, GA
I tried The Garage at Victory North on the recommendation of a Black culinarian I deeply respect and treasure. And, of course, they were on point. The Garage ended up being one of my favorite stops in Savannah. The menu is creative and fun, and the Jerk Quail and Collard Green Ceasar were two standouts.
*Doro Soul Food - Washington, DC
Doro Soul Food is a casual carryout spot in DC that infuses American soul food with Ethiopian flavors. Menu items include options like fried chicken with mitmita or berbere sauces and Doro Wat flavored macaroni and cheese. The execution and balance of flavors are so well done at this restaurant in Shaw.
*Leah & Louise - Charlotte, NC
Leah & Louis pays homage to the Mississippi River Valley, evoking the vibrant flavors of iconic cities like Memphis, Jackson, Mississippi, and New Orleans in a modern juke joint concept. The cocktails here are excellent, the music is always lively, and the food is even better.
Kann - Portland, Oregon
Chef Gregory Gourdet's restaurant Kann has won a slew of (well-deserved IMO) awards, including 2023 Best New Restaurant by the James Beard Foundation. Kann serves up incredible wood-fired Haitian cuisine in a gorgeous space complete with an open kitchen. The entire menu is gluten and dairy-free and the cocktail program is also excellent, so just order everything. It can be quite difficult to snag a reservation, so set your alarms! Reservations for the previous month are released on the 2nd of each month at 12:00 pm PDT via Resy.
If you can't snag a spot at Kann, I also highly recommend Sousòl, a Caribbean lounge concept by chef Gregory Gourdet just below Kann. Most seats at Sousòl are first come, first served, so you can usually get a spot easily if you arrive early. The cocktails at Sousòl are outstanding, and the limited food menu there is also top-notch.
Virtue - Chicago, IL
Located in the Hyde Park area of Chicago, Virtue is a celebrated Southern restaurant that does it so well. Brunch and dinner are equally delicious options there, and happy hour (which includes drinks and a selection of small plates) is served at the bar Wednesday through Friday from 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm.
Jones Bar-B-Q Diner - Marianna, AR
Jones Bar-B-Q Diner in Marianna, Arkansas, was the inaugural recipient of a James Beard Award in the state and is thought to be the oldest continually operating Black-owned restaurant in the United States. Jones Bar-B-Q Diner opens at 7:00 am and often sells out within a few hours (especially in the summer season), so get there early!
Penny's Wine Shop - Richmond, VA
A cute af Black-owned wine shop in Richmond with a great selection of wines AND great food? Yes. Penny's is a vibe. You can snag a wine or two at a variety of price points, have a glass, and also have a really nice dinner while you're there. You'll notice lots of couples and groups of friends doing the same. This is one of my favorite stops in Richmond!
*Grey Sweater - Oklahoma City, OK
Grey Sweater is a tasting menu experience that offers five, seven, and ten-course menus with optional wine pairings. The concept was created by James Beard Best Chef Southwest 2023 winner Andrew Black, and is a really fun and creative fine dining experience. I also really enjoyed the cocktails here, as they leaned towards whimsical and were really creative in ways that added to the overall experience.
Back In The Day Bakery - Savannah, GA
Technically, this isn't a restaurant, but I couldn't care less because good biscuits are a work of art. Back in the Day Bakery, owned by Cheryl and Griff Day, is an artisan bakery in Savannah that I just adore. I already mentioned the biscuits, but anything on the menu is sure to be a hit. The bakery also has a shop that features products from independent + BIPOC-owned businesses, making it an ideal stop for gifts as well.
Black-Owned Spots I Absolutely Will Be Making It To Soon!
Essentially, this is my to-try list, a running list of Black-owned places I hope to intersect with on my travels.
Tatiana, New York, NY
Chef Kwame Onwuachi opened Tatiana in 2022, an Afro-Caribbean restaurant that has already made waves. I've heard only good things, and with menu items like egusi dumplings and hamachi escovitch, this spot is high on my list.
Fat Fowl - Brooklyn, NY
I tried an oxtail grilled cheese at a food festival in 2022 made by Chef Shorne and knew I had to make it to his NY restaurant Fat Fowl, located in the DeKalb Market Hall.
Lucille's - Houston, TX
Lucille's pays homage to Lucille B. Smith, American culinary innovator and great-grandmother to the founders, brothers Chris and Ben Williams. I'll be in Houston this year for work and have made this Southern restaurant a top priority while I'm there.
Roots Southern Table - Farmers Branch, TX
Chef Tiffany Derry can cook y'all. I've had her food at festivals, and it always hits. So, of course, I want to visit the restaurant that pays homage to her Southern roots.
Ubuntu - Los Angeles, CA
Ubuntu, a new plant-based restaurant in LA celebrating West African ingredients, has been all over my timeline. It looks lovely, and as someone who actually prefers to eat plant-based when possible, it's nice to see expanding options.
LATHA - Phoenix, AZ
The last time I was in Phoenix, I was so pleasantly surprised; why not go again to try out this new pan-African spot? I've heard good things thus far.
Virgil's - Atlanta, GA / College Park, GA / Conyers, GA
Virgil's Gullah Kitchen & Bar comes highly recommended to me by a friend whose taste I trust well, who is Gullah Geechee himself. I'm long overdue for an exploration of Atlanta's food scene, so hopefully, I can make that happen in 2024.
Le Petit Marche - Atlanta, GA
This is another spot that comes highly recommended by someone whose taste I trust. I'm there.
Have any questions about these spots? Drop them in the comments below! I'm happy to answer what I can based on my experiences there.
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