Put on your eating pants and stand in solidarity with the Black community — by visiting a few of our favorite and most vibey Black-owned restaurants and food businesses. While inclusive actions can extend beyond your choices for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and that midday meal linner, helping Black-owned food spots thrive is a step in the yum direction.
What makes the perfect cookie? We can all agree on “buttery.” But the battle between “soft” vs. “crispy” rages on. And yet...Anthony’s Cookies finds a way to please both camps, with fresh cookies that are soft-chewy in the center, and crisp-crackly on the edges. Cookies are the perfect, portable food. So If you visit the Mission District location (there’s a Berkeley location, too), generously cart a classic flavor (chocolate chip) and something more experimental (cookies and cream) to your friend’s picnic at nearby Mission Dolores Park. They will exclaim, “These thangs! They’re awesome. Bring me some more the next time you go.” And now you have a job delivering gourmet cookies. Cool origin story: The owner, Anthony Lucas, baked between studying for accounting and engineering at San Francisco State University (America’s first department of Black/Africana Studies on a four-year university campus). Friends and family encouraged him to explore a sweeter path.
Bayview Bistro Meal Box
The 1940s kicked off a Great Migration of African Americans from the South to San Francisco’s Bayview. Shipyards, segregation and neglect came to define decades of this Black and increasingly Latinx neighborhood. But there are efforts today to highlight the area’s durability and creativity. See (eat) the Bayview Bistro Meal Box. These weekly food boxes provide a lifeline to surrounding culinary entrepreneurs (including nearby Hunters-Point). They highlight California, Mexican and soul flavors. Each box holds nine finger-licking dishes like grilled corn by the Vegan Hood Chefs and chicken enchiladas by Big H BBQ. And where else will you meet a historically frugal dish -- bread pudding -- made by Yes Pudding with roasted tomato & basil so that it becomes rich, savory and oh so satisfying? The inspiration: Organizers of the Bayview Bistro Meal Box tip their chef caps to a similar food-box program offered by La Cocina’s nonprofit culinary incubator for women entrepreneurs.
Find Nigerian comfort food at Eko Kitchen. The first of its kind in San Francisco. With a goat dish called Grandma’s Asun Plate smothered in peppers and nanny’s love. With a wide array of stews you can get for one or in bulk. But that oxtail stew is so good you’ll whisper to the Nigerian-born chef Simileoluwa Adebajo that it is better than your own mother’s. She likes to hear customers say that! And Adebajo has been known to share the secrets of her jollof rice, peppered chicken and fried plantains on live-streamed cooking classes by Chefstreams.
Red Bay Coffee
So much more than a place for smooth coffee! The company promotes diversity and equity in the coffee industry. At the vanguard of fourth-wave coffee, Red Bay Coffee founder and artist Keba Konte engages in fair trade and sustainable relations with producers while producing community events featuring Black art and performers at its roastery. They’ll teach you about the greatest agricultural product on earth--the Arabica coffee bean--which was born on the African continent (Ethiopia, specifically). How does Red Bay Coffee describe what they do? “Beautiful coffee to the people.” Stop by its Coffee Box in Uptown Oakland, a cool converted shipping container surrounded by shops and other cultural magnets nearby worth a stroll.
Brown Sugar Kitchen
West Oakland has a leader in the food world. Chef-owner Tanya Holland you saw on Bravo’s “Top Chef” (Season 15). She’s a culinary diplomat, representing soul food in her appearances around the world. What’s that got to do with your hunger? Get the down-home dishes everyone’s talking about at Brown Sugar Kitchen: buttermilk fried chicken, oyster po-boys, Creole meatloaf, gumbo...how are you not drooling all over your smartphone right now?
Harambe Ethiopian Restaurant
Van City has the African diaspora amongst its Black Canadian population. And Harambe, which means “all pull together” in Swahili, brings friends and family together to experience traditional Ethiopian. Ask for the Chef’s Special, and have that spongey, pancake-like injera bread topped with a shared platter of greatest hits you can eat with your hands: Yebeg Wot, Doro Wot and Alitcha Wot with assorted vegeterian dishes. The making of Ethiopian flavors, specifically the aromatic stews, are a rich alchemy born out of trade with Asia, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean. One bite at Harambe and your mouth goes places.
Lion's Den Café
“Japaribbean.” That’s how the owners of Lion’s Den Cafe describe their menu, a fusion of Japanese and Caribbean (mainly Jamaican) cuisines by the two owners Junko Tanabe and Ken Brooks. What you need to know is the vibes are so welcoming (the cafe’s name used to be “One Love.” Very irie.) and its hot-sweet-savory jerk chicken is so loved. Alongside authentic dishes representing two cultures with nearly 8,000 miles between them: Ackee salt fish, curry chicken, oxtail stew, teriyaki chicken, Jamaican patties. Back and forth, the menu is in conversation, melding cuisines effortlessly like a bowl of rice and beans.
After 30 years the Catfish Corner restaurant started here by Terrell Jackson’s grandfather closed its doors in the Central District. The CD. The historically Black neighborhood created by racist housing policies, yes, and enduring a flood of gentrification. Terrell grew up as a cashier, dishwasher and server at that CD landmark, and has plans to reopen back there at 23rd and Jackson. Meantime, he’s doing old school deliciousness at the Catfish Corner Express location in Renton’s Skyway Shopping Center. Fried sweet catfish. Drinkable homemade tartar sauce. Hush puppies (deep-fried cornbread batter has never had a cuter nickname). And loosen your belt for a beefy “Obama Burger” loaded with a slippery grilled hotdog inside that you should not eat in the car.
Trap Kitchen PDX
Bringing five star food to the streets without the five-star prices. Trap Kitchen Portland PDX was born in 2013 when "Chef Spank" and his best-friend "Sous Chef News" decided to put their talents together to found what is now one of the hottest catering services in LA, and now Portland as well.
The Trap Truck has great... Everything... And we love pineapple bowl Fridays, but what we love most is how good they are to the community. In their “Feeding our People” collaboration with the musical artist Amine, they gave out free meals while also raising money for various Black and racial justice causes such as Campaign Zero and Thurgood Marshall College Fund.
Cason’s Fine Meats
Come to the diverse neighborhood abutting Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. for smoked ribs from Cason's Fine Meats. “You taste my barbecue, ribs or chicken, my natural meat, it sells itself -- you’ll come back,” says butcher and namesake of this small shop, Theotis Cason. Oregon-sourced raw provisions are available to cook at home. But. You’re already here! And Black pitmasters are a culinary tradition. Pay homage to barbecue’s African American roots by letting Cason and his crew do the ‘cue. You’ll quickly become a believer and repeat visitor.