In cities like Chicago and Atlanta, an annual "Black Restaurant Week" and other community-sourced movements have sparked conversations about the trendiness of food and the small number of black-owned establishments (and even chefs) contributing to it.
Restaurants are integral pieces of social history. We believe this is an important conversation to have today, especially as the Triangle continues to explode with culinary gems. So, with the help of Jen Lawrence of jenoni.com, Linda Convissor, the Orange County Economic Development Commission, and Dan Stafford of Raleigh’s Minority Business Development Agency, we put together our own list of black-owned restaurants and food trucks. You’ll see our top picks for each county, followed by a more comprehensive list. Did we miss one of your favorites? Please add it in the comments!
DURHAM COUNTYEarlier this year, Durham lifestyle blogger Jen Lawrence published a list of black-owned restaurants to gain some local momentum for this growing movement—and because such a list didn’t exist. “In light of our social climate I wanted to show my support to local African American-owned businesses,” she writes in an email to the INDY. “African Americans have $1.1 trillion in buying power. It would be nice if a majority of that money went back into black-owned businesses.” According to Lawrence, the blog post was viewed nearly 25,000 times, with 8,600 shares on Facebook. Based on her list, we highlight our favorites and add to it below.
3019 Fayetteville Road, Durham
Peggy Tapp runs the Hut with her son, Clay, and her sisters, Jo Ann Johnson and Ruth Dash. You can walk in with a ten-dollar bill and walk out with a small mountain of fried chicken (a secret family recipe going sixty-five years strong), slow-cooked turnip greens, mac-n-cheese, a slice of pie, and a drink—with a few bills to spare.
Vegan Flava Cafe
4125 Durham-Chapel Hill Boulevard, Durham
An accidental vegan chef, Yah-I Ausar Tarafi Amen works magic at his casual restaurant, serving innovative cuisine from scratch.
Saltbox Seafood Joint
608 North Mangum Street, Durham
Go for the fresh catch of the morning—from flounder to fish collars—the hush honeys, and the "good tea." Stay for that sun-kissed glow.
Backyard BBQ Pit
After much digging in public records and consulting with local chefs and historians, only three black-owned restaurants came up in Chapel Hill. The Orange County Economic Development Commission’s lists includes the three (below) as well as Kelsey’s Café and Big Bob's City Grill in Hillsborough. Kelsey's Café offers delicious lunch and catering at 126 West King Street. Big Bob's serves wings, massive burgers, and oher delights at 584 Cornelius Street.
Al's Burger Shack
516 West Franklin Street, Chapel Hill
Roasted garlic, pimento cheese, bacon, fresh jalapeño—you can get almost anything you want on Al's thick burgers, cooked pink and juicy. Even crinkle fries get the five-star treatment with a sprinkle of fresh rosemary and sea salt.
Queen of Sheba
1129 Weaver Dairy Road, Chapel Hill
Ethiopian food isn't ubiquitous in the South. Frieshgenet Dabei's cozy restaurant offers a beautiful change of pace, with homemade delicacies to share. Call ahead and check if the honey wine is available.
Mama Dip's Kitchen
408 West Rosemary Street, Chapel Hill
In 1985, New York Times restaurant critic Craig Claiborne raved about Mildred "Mama Dip" Council's chitterlings and blackeyed peas. This legendary restaurant that helped elevate Southern cuisine deserves a visit.
Dan Stafford, executive director of the Minority Business Development Agency in Raleigh, used census data to estimate that Wake County is home to at about 236 black-owned restaurants. We did our best to highlight some favorites.
Larry's Southern Kitchen
4205 Fayetteville Road, Raleigh
Let the neon lights lure you to one of the largest country buffets in the state. Bonus: the restaurant is an official pokstop. Pokmon and pigs feet.
3400 New Birch Drive, Raleigh
Calabash-style shrimp, all the soul food staples, and Carolina 'cue make this one a true crowd-pleaser.
4638 Capital Boulevard and 1110 North Raleigh Boulevard, Raleigh
Two chefs serve Jamaican and Southern soul food right. Pair the curried goat with mac-n-cheese and you won't be sorry.
*This list was updated on October 4, 2016.