Black-Owned Restaurants Food Network Stars Love

Next time you need a new spot for any meal (even a snack!), go with an expert recommendation.

February 25, 2021

Photo by: Virgil's Gullah Kitchen

Virgil's Gullah Kitchen

By T.K. Brady, Michelle Baricevic, Rachel Trujillo and Maggie Wong

When it comes to dining out, whether it's ordering takeout or patronizing a local spot, a good recommendation goes a long way — and these recommendations come from the experts. Food Network stars Kardea Brown, Marcus Samuelsson and Kalen Allen share their favorite Black-owned restaurants in honor of Black History Month. Give them a try today and keep coming back for more, because continued support for these spots is what helps keep them going for generations to come.

Gillie’s Seafood, John’s Island, SC

Chef Sean Mendes' restaurant is inspired by his grandmother. "She is who he deems as the most important and influential person in his culinary journey," reads the website. With award-winning shrimp and grits, homemade desserts and plenty of classics, diners will feel right at home at Gillies.

Sisters Caribbean Cuisine, New York, NY

Manhattan is a hot spot for good food, and Sisters Caribbean Cuisine proves itself as the city’s go-to for authentic Caribbean. Marlyn Rogers, a Guyanese immigrant, opened the restaurant, which is now run by her son RanDe, in 1995 — and the Southern café in East Harlem has caught the attention of multiple professional chefs and food-lovers since. Food Network’s Marcus Samuelsson has sung the goat chicken’s praises, and the jerk chicken has received multiple accolades — plus, there are delicious options for vegans too.

Massawa, New York, NY

Massawa’s founder, Almaz Ghebrezgabher, first saw the location that would one day house New York City’s oldest African restaurant while driving a cab in the 1980s. According to the restaurant’s site, her desire to bring authentic East African food to the residents of Harlem and the Upper West Side pushed her to open this vegan-friendly, Eritrean restaurant in 1988. Known for its split pea shiro, seafood dishes and injera, this restaurant also boasts delicious beef, lamb and chicken options, too.

BLVD Bistro, New York, NY

For comforting food in a welcoming setting, look to BLVD Bistro. Located in New York City, this restaurant offering American soul food has an equally extensive breakfast and dinner menu. Here, you’ll find everything from Brioche French Toast, Jumbo Shrimp & Grits and Crab Cake Benedicts to Barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwiches and a Southern Dinner of fried chicken or catfish, smoked turkey collards and Southern potato salad.

Named after Virgil F. Smalls, the late father and father-in-law of owners Gregory and Juan Smalls, Virgil’s aims to preserve and share Virgil’s Gullah Geechee roots and recipes. The restaurant, recommended by Gullah queen Kardea Brown, is famous for its rice dishes – like Red Rice and Crab Rice – and boasts a wide range of seafood like shrimp, “lobsta” tails, “tenda” shark meat, fried oysters, “sammen” and more.

Harlem Chocolate Factory, New York, NY

With Marcus and Oprah among its fans, you’re bound to find something you love at Harlem Chocolate Factory, an artisan chocolate company that pays homage to the famous neighborhood through its sweets. Playful confections like potato chip- and cola caramel-laced bonbons, named “Bodega Dreams,” and gilded brownstone-shaped chocolate bars, which landed on Orpah’s 2020 Favorite Things list, line Jessica Spaulding and Asha Dixon’s shop.

Chef Charles Gabriel is the owner of Charles Pan Fried Chicken, a beloved New York restaurant that’s nothing fancy, but serves up some of the best fried chicken. Look for the orange awning with a chicken dressed up as a chef to try one of Marcus’ favorites.

Jones BBQ, Kansas City, KS

For sisters Deborah “Little” and Mary “Shorty” Jones, barbeque isn’t just a delicious meal, it’s a way of life. Ever since their father opened the very first Jones BBQ location during their childhood, the duo has continued their family’s legacy of bringing irresistibly smoked turkey, beef, ham, sausage, pork and ribs to the masses. A favorite of Food Network star Kalen Allen, Jones BBQ is also known across the country for their “top secret” Sweet and Tangy BBQ sauce which is made fresh daily and can now be ordered for nationwide shipping.

Recommended by Kalen Allen, this soul food hot spot has been a neighborhood favorite since it first opened its doors in 2000. Offering mouthwatering bites like Crab Mac & Cheese Balls, Mini Chicken and Waffles and Jumbo Shrimp and Grits, Ms. Tootsie’s Restaurant, Bar and Lounge is all about giving patrons a new and innovative way to indulge in the Southern recipes they love.

The Breakfast Klub, Houston, TX

You can’t talk about breakfast without mentioning this beloved family-style eatery located in Houston’s Midtown neighborhood. Rated by both Zagat and Yelp as “the best breakfast restaurant to dine at,” The Breakfast Klub prides itself on treating every customer like family. Offering Southern specialties like Katfish & Grits, Wings & Waffles and Biskits & Gravy, The Breakfast Club is a must-visit if you ever find yourself in Texas. You can also buy their signature Soulful & Savory Seasoning Mix, Fish Fry Batter and Waffle and Pancake Mix online to enjoy a taste of the South right in your very own home.

Gullah Grub, St. Helena Island, SC

Owner Bill Green is all about honoring Gullah food traditions at this South Carolina spot. For more than 15 years, he and his family have been preparing Gullah meals for patrons following two main traditions of Gullah cuisine: eat in season and eat locally. Guests will find classics like gumbo and barbecue chicken in addition to seasonal sides like squash casserole. According to Yelp reviews, Gullah Grub is currently closed, but reviewers say they hope the restaurant can reopen soon.

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