Black Food Influencers Name Their Favorite Black-Owned Restaurants

Over the past half-decade, we’ve come to think of food differently through the lens of food influencers. Flat lays of brussels sprouts drizzled in a balsamic reduction are a far cry from the overboiled greens of our childhood. Powdered sugar suspended in tableau above a pyramid of plant-based donuts send us running to our air fryers, convinced we can recreate the delicate dessert scene. But who influences the influencers? Where do they go for a bite to eat after they hang up their earth-toned aprons and head out for a night on the town?

While social media platforms have begun to prioritize equal representation for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color-owned accounts, we still don’t see as much representation of Black-owned restaurants. So let’s change that, starting today.

We asked Black food influencers to tell us where we can get authentic, incredible food from Black-owned restaurants, just *in case* that spiralized zucchini tagliatelle you made turned out to be a bit more work than the 20 second TikTok video made it seem.

Alexis Nicole (@blackforager) — Willowbeez SoulVeg in Columbus, Ohio

Why Alexis Loves It:

Vegan Soul-food is hard to come by, especially in the Midwest, but Willowbeez, which started as a pop-up and now is a brick-and-mortar in Cbus’ North Market, is a dream come true for folks like me who miss my Aunt’s cornbread. The owner, Carnell Willoughby, is one of the kindest people I know, who is so community-minded!

Melissa L Jones (@foodtalksncolor) — FishScale, Washington DC

Why Melissa Loves It:

The most savory and mouth-watering fish burgers can be found at FishScale, one of my top favorite restaurants. This Washington, DC-based and Black-owned establishment specializes in handcrafted wild-caught seafood burgers and they do not disappoint. From the rockfish burger to the king salmon, their creations are mindfully curated with integrity and environment in mind, two things I admire most. Pair Chef Brandon’s True Blue MD Crab Burger with his grilled Japanese sweet potato topped with a special plum drizzle, you’ll become a frequent fan like me!

Vallery Lomas (@foodieinnewyork) — Ginjan Cafe, Harlem, New York

Why Vallery Loves It:

Gingan Cafe is a refuge of West African food and drinks in Harlem–from their signature Ginjan ginger-based elixir, to the tasty wraps and my personal fave–a sauteed mushroom, avocado, and plantain Kale Salad.

Jazzmine (@dashofjazzblog) — ChopnBlok, Houston, Texas

Why Jazzmine Loves It:

I love ChopnBlok because they are introducing the West African flavors I grew up on to the folks who might not otherwise experience it. Black foodways are global and diverse, yet interconnected, and ChopnBlok is putting that on display.

Aaron Oliver (@seasonedandblessed) — Virtue Restaurant, Chicago, Illinois

Why Aaron Loves It:

The macaroni and cheese at Virtue is some of the best in Chicago. The texture, consistency, and cheesiness are all top-notch in my book! I’ve always felt a special connection to Virtue Restaurant because of my relationship with my grandmother. Her love for me as a child was unmatched.

Every time I visit Virtue, the service and hospitality remind me of her which is something I’ll cherish forever.

Dawn Konofaos (@alevrilife) — Gabby Bakes (at Pure Kitchen), Tampa, Florida

Why Dawn Loves Them:

I just love Gabby and Jonny! They are beautiful humans. Gabby is a super talented, baking nerd. She mostly bakes cakes, but at markets she has cookies and cute loaves and her pie flavors are amazing as well. She’s a fellow vegan baker and she also makes cupcakes. As a whole, the Tampa Bay area doesn’t have really good representation for any minorities in the food industry. It’s a really hard place for Black-owned businesses and POC businesses to thrive, but Gabby is awesome.

She also bakes cupcakes and sells them at Pure Kitchen.

Shanika (@orchidsnsweettea_) — Mangoseed, Brooklyn, New York

Why Shanika Loves Them:

I love Mangoseed in Prospect Lefferts Garden in Brooklyn, NY. Coming from a Jamaican background, Mangoseed is the perfect rendition of Jamaican food meets an edgy new, innovative twist on Jamaican classics. Whenever I get a chance to eat at this restaurant, I often enjoy their take on Oxtails + Parmesan grits or a healthier dinner option — Jerk Salmon with Rice + Peas and sauteed spinach.

All in all, this restaurant brings me back to the amazing dishes that I grew up eating, but in a fresh new way!

Glenroy Brown (@chefboyprince) — Aunts et Uncles, Brooklyn New York

Why Glenroy Loves Them:

My favorite Black-owned restaurant is called Aunts Et Uncles. It’s a plant-based Cafe/Bar located in Brooklyn NY. I love this cafe because it’s inspiring for me as a chef and wanting to own something similar to it. It’s small yet intimate, great ambiance, and is very welcoming.

The owners are a couple and I literally watched them build this cafe from the ground up. I used to get my haircut next door and every time I visited, I saw them working on it until it was completed.

I would definitely recommend this as a go-to spot to hang out, relax and kind of get away for the moment. The menu is limited but the bar, atmosphere, and people working there make up for it.