There is no shortage of interesting and exciting restaurants in the Chicago area, including Black-owned businesses. They vary from fine dining and gourmet to street eats and whimsical cafes. Here are some Black-owned eateries you need to try, whether you live in the area or are just visiting.
A tribute to New Orleans cooking -- that's what inspired Chef Brian Jupiter to bring his home cuisine to the Windy City. Just over two years old, this restaurant offers brunch, fried chicken pairings, seafood dishes, po' boys and other staples of New Orleans cuisine. Some standouts include the impressive seafood towers and chicken and pancakes. Sorry, no waffles!
When you open Luella's website, you're greeted with their chicken and sausage gumbo, a pimento cheeseburger, a delicious plate of shrimp and grits and more. As the name suggests, Luella's Southern Kitchen highlights southern cooking inspired by the titular woman.
"Luella is our Chef’s great grand-mother. She moved from Mississippi to Chicago in 1943. She inspires the love and passion for the delicious southern meals we serve every day," according to the website.
The restaurant has been featured on the local show "Chicago's Best" and the Stories To Savor Network on YouTube. Did we mention they have a bakery?
Kizin Creole focuses on Haitian cuisine "with a passion." Offering delivery and catering alongside a fine dining setting, they take it to the next level. There are some interesting Haitian appetizers to take advantage of, such as patat fri (salted fried sweet potato) or marinad (spiced fritters). When it comes to your choice of protein -- there are so many options. You got oxtail, goat, beef, chicken, griyo (fried pork) and more. And that's before seafood, sandwiches and desserts!
Flippin Flavors is taking a fresh and natural approach to their cuisine. According to their website, the eatery focuses on natural spices, marinades and other seasonings to elevate their dishes. The website also says their entrees and appetizers aren't "loaded with salts and preservatives."
Compared to other restaurants, their menu only provides salads, hoagies and philly sandwiches. While that may seem limited, the eatery makes up for it by stuffing their salads and sandwiches with ingredients. Flippin Flavors also supports local communities and organizations in the Chicago area.
An Italian restaurant aiming to provide "five star Italian Cuisine for everyday people" -- that's the mission of Truth's founder Peytyn Willborn-Mayes. Truth offers brunch and dinner with traditional dishes and an emphasis on seafood.
Their brunch highlights standard breakfast dishes, focusing on waffles, brioche toast and egg dishes. For their dinner entrees, they have crab cakes, catfish, lobster arrabbiata, Atlantic salmon and more. Not big on seafood or have an allergy? Don't worry! They also have steak, porkchops, lamb chops and a grilled chicken sandwich entree.
This Bronzeville restaurant has eight menu items, but don't let the size fool you. Friistyle specializes in Belgian-style french fries dishes, or "pommes frites." Pommes frites is a basket of fries is topped with "decadent" ingredients. For Friistyle, that includes chicken wings, Italian beef, chicken alfredo, lobster. It's just a casual feast!
"One of the beautiful truths about Belgian-style pommes frites is that you can dress them in just about anything — a classic ketchup, truffle mayo, perhaps a white-wine broth paired with a bowl of mussels — and the result will be delicious," their website said.
Waffles and brunch is the name of the game, and Batter & Berries is definitely serving. Dr. Tanya and Craig Richardson opened the restaurant in 2012 to take on the Chicago brunch scene, according to their website. There are various routes you can take for a wholesome brunch meal, such as their French Toast Flight, Cluck-N-Gaufre or simpler options like omelettes, pancakes, and more. Depending on which dish you get, you can also customize your toppings.
This gourmet grill has a simple creed: no beef, no pork. No problem. TurkeyChop has a variety of exciting dishes centered around chicken, seafood and, well, turkey! There also seems to be multiple influences, such as soul, Jamaican, and even some local Chicago flair. You can even get some lunch box specials and entrees. Founder and executive chef Quentin Love is also giving back to the community by providing meals through his non-profit community soup kitchen.
Calling all vegans and vegetarians! This one is for you. Can't Believe It's Not Meat offers meat-alternative options to your favorite dishes, including wings, lasagna, tacos, gumbos, wraps, burgers and much more. It almost looks like the real thing! Checking out their menu on Grubhub, they also feature vegan shakes and smoothies to go with your meals. The restaurant also offer hoagies, shrimp and fried chicken.
There's no other way to describe the menu but southern heaven. Not only are there eight different chicken and waffle dishes, but there's also catfish and waffles, omelettes, sandwiches, and interesting starters like buffalo catfish strips! And that's not getting into their soul sides and appetizers. It looks like the type of restaurant where there is no shortage of options for your palette.
As the name suggests, TeaPotBrew has over 25 types of tea and 17 different flavor for your soothing drink. They're not just limited to tea; they also offer four types of coffee drinks and cider. Their bakery menu comes with enticing options to complement your drink of choice. There's cookies, muffins, loaf cakes and slices, scones, muffins, macaroons and gelato. TeaPotBrew also serves donuts on Fridays, according to their menu.
This is a restaurant you can get behind whether you're vegetarian or not! Original Soul is committed to a vegetarian menu with great flavors. They also have an expansive menu, so there's a little something for everyone. Whether you want to go for their fried and battered veggies or chow down on their vegan-friendly burgers, you don't have a shortage of options. They also serve breakfast on the weekends with affordable prices.
Hospitality, comfort and gratitude is baked into the atmosphere of Virtue. On their modest menu, they truly have some down-South dishes. There's gizzards, cheese grits, collard greens, catfish, gumbo, live and onions -- and that's just a taste. They also have some standard options, like salmon, shrimp and chicken. Owner Erick Williams said Virtue is a tribute to the people who came before us and allowed us to have the opportunities we have today: freedom, equality and hope.
Rhodel Castillo wants to memoralize the Garifuna culture of the Caribbean in many ways, from music to food. At Garifuna Flava, you can get a taste of Belize with many authentic dishes and takes on classic favorites. You can indulge in some jerk chicken tacos, oxtail stew, panades (corn fritters stuffed with buffalo fish), conch fritters, red snapper and much more. And that's not getting into their big combo deals, too!
Eméché presents a well-rounded menu of breakfast items, coffee, desserts and sandwiches for lunch. But when you take a deeper look into the space in menu itself, your mouth may water. I believe the star power of Eméché lies within its desserts. Not only is there a fine presentation and a dazzling look, but the experimental and classic flavor combinations are a must-try. If you visit, you're required to try the "spirit-infused" desserts!
Want a taste of Ethopian cuisine? Dive right into Ethiopian Diamond. This Edgewater restaurant has been open since 1996 and got its namesake from executive chef and owner Almaz Yigizaw; "almaz" means diamond in Amheric, according to their website. Their entree and drink menu is extensive! Entree plates are divided by the type of protein you want and comes with two sides. Their sampler plates allow you to try many Ethiopian sides and small dishes like doro tibs (chicken sauteed with onions and peppers) or quosta (spinach simmered with onions and garlic). You may be coming back for more!
This restaurant, as the name suggests, is focused on bringing sweet and savory experiences in pie form. Justice of Pies offers sweet dishes like salted caramel peach and mocha creme to savory pot pies, tarts and quiches. There's even a pie where a large biscuit sits right on top of a hearty chicken stew. What's also baked into the restaurant's mission is community service and giving back; according to their About page, the store is involved with multiple programs aimed at helping lower-income communities. Owner and founder Maya-Camille Broussard also created Justice for Pies in honor of her father, who loved creating pies.
Need a fine selection of coffee to simply enjoy? Sip and Savor got you covered. This cafe prides itself on its "certified fair trade coffee from around the world," according to their website. From taking a peek at their menu, they sure have a variety of lattes, mochas, smoothies and shakes for consumers. Their "bull frog mocha," for example, is made of chocolate sauce, peppermint syrup, two shots of espresso, steamed milk, whipped cream on top. Founder and CEO of Sip and Savor Trez V. Pugh is also involved in the community. According to the website, he helps at-risks youths through the Becoming a Better Man Project.
Check out Kilwins for high-quality confections! According to their website, the employees "handcraft our chocolate treats, waffle cones, corns and brittles, fudge, and delicious homemade caramel right before your eyes!" You can also purchase toffee, taffy chews, marshmallows, icecream, dipped apples and various kinds of brittles. If you're in need of a sweet treat, they're located on the University of Chicago's campus.
The Frontier has a lot to offer you in terms of hearty eating experience. Not only does the restaurant offer brunch and dinner, but a wide away of proteins to sink your teeth in. There's ribs, burgers, oysters, chicken thighs, boar sliders, and brisket. If you have a sizeable group with you, try their Whole Animal Experience where they give you some delicious sides and your protein of choice, including boar, antelope, alligator, goat, lamb, salmon and more. Remember Chef Brian Jupiter with Ina Mae? He's also involved with this restaurant!
At Eleven | Eleven, the experience is just as good as the food. On their humble menu, they offer classic American dishes like steak and potatoes, shrimp and grits and chicken alongside vegetarian options like barbecue cauliflower and the "beyond smash" burger. They also feature a decadent Sunday brunch and drinks menu, as well.
"We aim to deliver a fun, thoughtful food experience in a dynamic yet comfortable setting. Warm, neighborhood hospitality + an eclectic, funky playlist paints this picture," according to the website's About page.
Sweet Maple Cafe is a location that likes to do things "the old-fashioned way." They serve breakfast and lunch and close at 2 p.m. The menu itself is pretty robust with various options to customize dishes like home fries and omelettes. You may also be enticed by the chorizo tacos, fish n' eggs or their seven scrambled eggs dishes.
There's also a sweet history attached to this 21-year-old restaurant. "Laurene Hynson... a mother of two young children, wanted a creative outlet that would not interfere with her role as a parent. A breakfast place that closed at 2 pm was the perfect option," according to their website. "Now her children are old enough to work at the restaurant."
Taste 222 truly has it all. This restaurant offers breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks and bar food for whatever occasion. Their lunch menu could be it's own restaurant: steak salads, duck tacos, porkbelly gyros, burgers and much more. They also have a rotating monthly special for lunch and dinner; for lunch this month, they're offering oxtail ragu with pasta, pistachio gremolata and parmesan crisp. Truly a must-visit for the adventurous and hungry.
If you love jerk anything, then Jerky Jerk is the place for you. This restaurant has their own main entrees, including chicken alfredo, stir-fry, burritos, wraps and more. If you're not interested in that, there's the build-your-own plate where you can select your own protein and sides. For proteins, you can sink your teeth into some curry goat, oxtail, white or dark meat chicken, fried chicken and Mr. Brown's stew chicken. If you're looking for seafood dishes, make sure to check out their West Taylor Avenue location.
Two friends came together and made their dream a reality in 2001 -- owning a cafe. At this quaint location, customers can order some pretty interesting dishes along with locally-sourced ingredients. From looking at the menu, vegetarians, vegans or all-around healthy eaters may especially enjoy their offerings. There's farro risotto, spiced tofu and a grilled cheese sandwich using berry jam, vegan cheese and herbs. If you want some protein, you can treat yourself to some smoked salmon and eggs, a grilled pepper chicken sandwich and more.
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