Eat Black Owned, and I’ll Tell You Why!
Los Angeles (LA) is home to a long list of divine Black-owned businesses serving cuisines ranging from Southern, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Brazilian foods, and many other ethnic dishes. Whether you want to dine in or take out, LA's food scene continues to stand out and serve its locals and visitors!
One should note the wide-ranging and mouth-watering cuisines that serve the people who belong to this global diaspora, henceforth reflecting the impact of American slavery, the Great Migration, and its consequent Southern (also known as the Deep South) and Creole restaurants that harbored the taste of home. Such dishes, like collard greens, dirty rice, fried okra, and yams, to name a few, are the result of the deficient food rations that were low in nutritional and qualitative value.
It was from these small rations that enslaved communities adapted generational recipes and preserved African food traditions with the resources they were given. Aside from this, this rich history ties Black culture to its African roots, therefore being a powerful tool for bringing families and friends together.
Though born out of survival and struggle, we now can refer to these dishes and cuisines for decadence and comfort. The best part about this is how these Black dishes and cuisines have persisted in evolving and inspiring cooks and customers beyond their own walls. These "high-calorie" dishes have also grown to be more robust and delicious, with healthy alternatives that further aid in breaking the negative conceptions and enigma surrounding soul food and African American foods.
By intermixing the flavors of Mexican, Greek, and Asian dishes, building creative ways to cook plant-based meals, and drawing influence from Cal-fresh cooking styles, we see how the Black delicacy of food has birthed essential Black-owned restaurants. Here are some splurges about a few of these incredible and quite tasty Black-owned restaurants:
Coming all the way from New Orleans, Harold League Sr. and his wife, Mary Belle, opened this wonderful restaurant with the hopes of developing a place where friends and family could gather to enjoy the food that reminded them of home. From the Louisiana-style Catfish dinners, Country Cajun Meatloaf, Jambalaya, and Filé Gumbo (including a vegetarian version with sautéed okra) down to the beignets and peach cobbler, this restaurant has truthfully birthed beautiful delicacies that would touch the souls and hearts of many. The business is now owned and run by the third-generation husband and wife, Ryan and Jessica LeGaux after Harold League Sr.'s passing in 2011. But rest assured, the legacy of such fine cuisines has continued!
In Los Angeles, Black restaurants serving Mexican cuisines emphasize their desire to create "Mexican with a hint of soul." And if you are ever looking for a place to celebrate Taco Tuesday, this is the place! Founded in 1992 by chef Barbara Burrell, their tacos are served on large, six-inch corn tortillas with the meat options of lobster, filet mignon, and many more. There are also vegan and vegetarian options like potatoes and cheese to accommodate their customers! However, let us remember that Sky's gourmet menu is not just limited to tacos; it also entails the following: burritos, tacos, nachos, tortas, tostadas, and quesadillas. After celebrating thirty years of delicious food, I can guarantee it is all worthy of your attention!
Many of us have enjoyed the time-consuming endeavor of making gumbo as we grew up, whether that be prepping or creating the various versions of the dish by our family members. On that note, Stevie's famous seafood gumbo consists of a more than generous share of crab, chicken, shrimp, and sausage, served atop steamed rice with French bread. Oh, but it doesn't stop there! They also have Mac and Cheese with shrimp, Po' Boys, King Crab Legs, Banana Pudding, and so much more! One can prove such delicious and mouth-watering dishes with its current roster of celebrities, too. From Stevie Wonder to Shaq, you cannot deny Stevie's Creole Cafe of its talent!
This rustic downtown eatery is led by owner and chef Natalia Pereira specializes in dishes with a Brazilian fuse. Inspired by the "African, European, and Indian influences specific to the region of Minas Gerais, Brazil," the menu contains Portuguese dumplings stuffed with coconut and shrimp, Brazilian pot pie filled with chicken, olives, corn, hearts of palm, sealed with a flaky, crumbly crust, and so on! Telling by the menu, it is key to note that his restaurant has proven its well-deserved spot on California's 2021 Michelin Bib Gourmand Guide for Brazilian fare! I should also note that there is a strongly recommended order of yucca fries (the denser version of traditional potato fries) and house-made passionfruit mousse to finish your meal! In all, just enjoy the experience of good food!
Inspired by all the country kitchens we all know and love, this excellent restaurant is known to be one of the best breakfast and brunch spots located across the streets from LA's original Flower Market. Customers have the choice of Shrimp and Grits, Biscuit and Gravy, Fried Chicken Sandwiches, Cobb Salad, and so many other dishes that will leave you wanting more! The owners, husband, and wife Michael and Kwini Reed, have recently launched a comfortable and shaded rooftop patio that will propel the experience of those lavender limeade house cocktails and the comforting dishes prepared with seasonal ingredients. In addition to all the progressions during the pandemic, they have also been one to give back to the community by helping unhoused neighbors or contributing to the Black Lives Matter movement. Alongside this generosity, just last spring, they opened Poppy & Seed, an in-house, hyper-seasonal restaurant in the Anaheim Packing District, giving customers an even greater chance to try these tasty cuisines.
We all remember the sweet and special memories when our friends and family gathered for lots of laughter and delicious food. Compton native and Honey's Kettle founder, Vincent Williams, is known for ensuing these same memories with his fried chicken! He first started at Golden Bird in LA, a Black-owned, well-renowned warm fresh-fried chicken in the '50s and '60s, and then went on to own a Golden Bird franchise in 2000, which became his first Honey's kettle on Alondra Blvd in Compton. Although the location is no longer in operation, you can still find this golden brown delicacy in Culver City and Downtown, with sides like blueberry hotcakes, tangy pickles, fresh coleslaw, and sweet potato wedges. In all, it doesn't get any better than this.
That said if you are a food lover or connoisseur, like myself, and are interested in Black-owned businesses beyond the short list provided, Black Restaurant Week is the place to go!
The event is happening from August 19th to August 28th to celebrate the best in culinary arts as well as the flavors and dishes of African, Caribbean, and African-American cuisines. The event will be their 4th annual campaign in the Los Angeles Region, thus expanding on the types of food places from restaurants, food trucks, sweets, and much more. You do not want to miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime experience!