February marks the start of Black History Month, an annual celebration of the achievements and impact of Black Americans. While everyday is a good day to eat out (at least in our books), we're particularly excited to share some Black-owned MICHELIN Guide restaurants in the country. Below, we've rounded up a list of some tried and true favorites along with a few new additions. Join us in celebrating fabulous food, flavors, and culinary ingenuity at these tasty spots—just make sure to save room for dessert.
For comprehensive lists of organizations working to fight racial injustice and food inequality, see Civil Eats and Hunter College's Food Policy Center.
Vegetarian and omnivorous offerings abound on the menu, which also features a small glossary of terms to help newcomers. Pleasantly spicy yesiga wot combines tender chunks of beef with onions and ginger in a rich berbere sauce. Served with turmeric-infused split peas and spicy jalapeño-laced collard greens, this stew is a hearty pleasure. Sop up the extra sauce with piles of tangy and soft injera, presented in the traditional manner in lieu of silverware.
This handsome New Orleans-style tavern feels right at home in vibrant Wicker Park. Named for chef-owner Brian Jupiter’s great-grandmother, Ina Mae, the menu ticks off many NOLA classics—think packed seafood po’ boys and steaming gumbos, like the utterly delicious Ya-Ya, bobbing with shrimp, crawfish, chicken, and okra.
Luella's Southern Kitchen
This earnest kitchen makes your order from scratch, and it’s more than worth the wait. The surrounding artwork is half the fun anyway: you might even recognize prints like “Sugar Shack” by artist Ernie Barnes from the 1970’s sitcom Good Times. The tender buttermilk-fried chicken is a thing of beauty, served with warm collards braised with ham hock. Then pillowy biscuits, cooked to order and served with apricot jam, are pure bliss; as are Mississippi hot tamales stuffed with Slagel Farms beef and melted cheddar cheese.
The very talented Erick Williams' well-executed Southern cooking draws a smart crowd, largely from nearby University of Chicago. For starters, imagine skillet corn bread with a steak knife for slicing and slathering on the honey butter, while dirty rice topped with chicken gizzards is just what the soul ordered. Don’t miss the butcher’s snack, a selection of house-made charcuterie with pepper jelly.
The dining room here spacious and flooded with natural light; the staff gracious; and the décor simple and functional. This is essentially light, healthy and spicy cooking, and the best way to experience it is to come with a group and order a slew of entrées to sample. Whatever you do, save room for the delicious slow-cooked beef awaze tibs.
This restaurant celebrates the Bronx as well as its rich Puerto Rican and African-American presence. The menu, flaunting a cross-cultural blend of cooking styles, features ethereally light pork rinds with barbecue seasoning and lemon, as well as golden-fried green tomatoes. Also save room for mojo chicken, with roasted potatoes, collard greens, and salsa verde.
Inviting but intimate, Charlie Mitchell's 34-seat restaurant consistently wows diners with irresistible suaveness and confidence. From Long Island fluke ceviche jolted with lime zest and sweet melon to Peekytoe crab salad wrapped in corn gelée and set in a pool of warm, silky corn velouté, the menu is as clever as it s delicious. Therefore, it's hardly surprising that Mitchell earned the MICHELIN Guide Young Chef award along with being the first black chef to lead a MICHELIN Star restaurant in New York City.
Ria Graham and husband, Kevol and chef Mitchel Bonhomme bring a vibe to Williamsburg with their pan-Caribbean cuisine. Yard-long flatbreads, like the rasta pasta, are a favorite, thanks to the presence of shrimp, Jamaican callaloo, and plantain. Other hits include a vegetarian whole-roasted cauliflower in cashew sauce seasoned with allspice. Fish tacos and braised oxtail will leave you wanting to return for more.
With its colorful spirit and lineup of Southern classics, this comfortable spot—as charming and lovely as its owner, born-and-bred Harlemite Melba Wilson—is a perfect reflection of the neighborhood’s flavor, culture and past. It’s a place to gather and relax over good food and drinks, from Auntie B’s mini-burgers slathered with a smoky sweet sauce to a golden-brown and berry-licious fruit cobbler that’s nothing short of heaven on a plate.
Miss Mamie's Spoonbread Too
This tiny institution just off Central Park West turns out tried-and-true classics as baked turkey wings, homemade meatloaf, Louisiana catfish, and a creamy red velvet cake for dessert. Grab a fresh-squeezed lemonade and dive into the sampler, stocked with deep-fried shrimp, fall-off-the-bone beef short ribs, more fried chicken, and sides of cornbread stuffing and hoppin' John. Desserts are made in house, so a slice of chocolate layer cake or wedge of sweet potato pie are mandatory.
This Harlem landmark still draws a crowd for its most comforting of comfort food that celebrates the neighborhood in which it resides. Shrimp & grits, chicken & waffles, mac & greens: when a dish has an ampersand it will probably be big enough to share. If you’re teetering on the edge of wanton over-indulgence and need one final push, then finish with the doughnuts, which come filled with sweet potato cream.
Jeanine Prime and her brother Peter Prime cook the Trinidadian street food the siblings grew up on. Everything prepared by the kitchen is delicious: think rich stews, perfect doubles, and channa, redolent of spices and heat. Perfectly braised brisket in spicy brown sauce features tender root vegetables, paired with rice, and scooped into a fresh coconut shell.
Expect authentic items native to the culturally rich region of the namesake mountains. Rip off a piece of the cool and lacy injera and then dig into the lamb wat, a tender stew fueled by the fiery notes of berbere. Simmered vegetables add a welcome dose of earthy flavor on the side.
The impressive menu runs the gamut from traditional Ethiopian cuisine to dishes that have the potential to take even the most seasoned and ambitious palate by surprise. A basket filled with injera—a spongy and sour bread that serves as both chaser and utensil—is bottomless. For a meal that won’t disappoint, order the chicken and beef combination sampler.
The family platter here, with both vegetarian and meat dishes, is an excellent way to sample the variety. That beloved sour and spongy injera is ideal for sopping up the likes of gomen (collard greens with fresh garlic and onions) or kik alicha (a stew of yellow split peas with turmeric and ginger). Tikil gomen with cabbage and potatoes is an herbivore's dream; while quanta firfir, deliciously tender beef imbued with berbere and purified butter, has carnivores coming in droves.
Everyone comes here for the classic Southern cooking that is likely to conjure up many a nostalgic memory. Start off with the fried chicken livers accompanied by a mustard-soy emulsion. Then tuck into a steaming and fragrant bowl of Carolina gumbo floating with chicken, andouille, okra and shrimp. Cap it all off with a thick wedge of red velvet cake.
Go ahead and order breakfast all day long, since Eritrean restaurant Keren keeps the morning meal front and center. Ful, a staple breakfast dish of favas, jalapeño, tomato and onion, is a good place to start (there are six variations). Then go for the “five Eritrean” items for a well-rounded, veg-focused combo that's so good it will render you unable to pick a favorite.
Expect a span of East African flavors that extend beyond the Kenyan roots of Chef/owner Kevin Onyona. The Swahili Basket is a great way to sample such apps as samosas and bhajias (vegetable fritters) served with a lethal pilipili sauce.
The compact menu encompassing all the classics brings diners in droves. From vegetarian options to staples like tibs, this kitchen does it all. A platter of spongy injera is served with each dish for a bit of flourish. Tear strips of it to dip into the fragrant yebeg we't (spiced lamb stew with red chili sauce); or the shiro we't special (chickpea flour stew with tomato, garlic, and spices).
This kitchen's exquisite cuisine reflects the many fascinating nuances of Ethiopia itself. While many cultures break bread together, few do it as well as this one, where injera is torn apart to scoop up stews, like awaze tibs. Its tender lamb cubes, in a smoky, brick-red berbere, are simmered to tender perfection, then crowned with greens, spicy lentils, and potatoes.
Alta Adams - LA
The cooking here is soulful and comforting, starting with a plate of golden-fried black-eyed pea fritters with a garlicky green herb sauce for dipping. Their fried chicken is decadent, served juicy with a wickedly spicy hot sauce and caramelized sweet potatoes. Buttery coconut cake for dessert is pure, old-fashioned bliss.
Barcote - Oakland
Whether you opt for a meaty plate of kitfo (spiced minced beef cooked in clarified butter); a sampler of vegetarian stews like spicy misir wot (lentils simmered in berbere sauce); or hearty atakilt wot (cabbage, potato, and carrot stew with turmeric); you’ll be captivated by the layers of flavor.
Cafe Romanat - Oakland
Order up a homegrown beer, honey wine or a nutty ground flax or sesame seed juice to pair with the sambusas, triangular pastries stuffed with piquant jalapeño-spiked lentils. All the combination platters, served on spongy, slightly sour injera, are perfect for sharing.
Meals by Genet - LA
The menu here ventures well past the region’s best-known items. Don’t miss the pan-fried freshwater trout, sumptuous chicken stew, and crumble-in-your-mouth teff cookies to close. Another delight is Hirutye’s yebegsiga alitcha, a lamb preparation featuring luscious, slightly spicy berbere and awaze paired with spongy injera.
Hero image: © Luis Paez / Clover Hill