The 5 Most Unique Black-Owned Culinary Experiences In The U.S.

group of people sitting around a table with family-style dishes
group of people sitting around a table with family-style dishes

The culinary contributions of Black-owned restaurants in America are immeasurable. These restaurants have enriched the gastronomic world with their flavors, innovative techniques, and a deep sense of cultural pride. No matter your background or level of expertise in the kitchen, you will find something new and exciting to eat at one of these Black-owned restaurants. All the while, you will be able to learn about the cultural heritage that goes into making these dishes what they are today.

Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack – Keeping Nashville’s Heat Alive

With a legacy spanning more than a century, Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack has become a culinary institution in Nashville, Tennessee. This restaurant, founded by Thornton Prince, has an intriguing background that revolves around a woman’s revenge against her philandering boyfriend. Her spicy retaliation, however, proved to be a gustatory thrill for Thornton, resulting in the establishment of Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack.

The official website provides a detailed menu featuring chicken tenders, wings, breasts, legs, quarters, whole birds, chicken salad, and chicken sandwiches. Heat levels range from lite mild to XXX Hot, offering a variety of flavors for every spice tolerance level.

Dooky Chase’s Restaurant – A Fusion of Delicious Dishes

Dooky Chase’s Restaurant in New Orleans boasts a long history. Emily and Dooky Chase Sr. started the restaurant as a sandwich shop in 1941. It was their daughter-in-law, Leah Chase, who made Dooky Chase’s Restaurant a prime location for New Orleans cuisine, eventually becoming known as the Queen of Creole Cuisine. As one of the country’s first African-American-owned establishments, it has transformed into a fine-dining restaurant over the years. Dooky Chase’s menu offers delicacies like red beans and rice and chicken, po’boys, gumbo, and shrimp creole, among others.

Shirley Mae’s Café – The Flavor of Traditional Southern Recipes

In Smoketown, the oldest African American neighborhood in Louisville, Kentucky, Shirley Mae’s Café offers an assortment of traditional Southern dishes. The restaurant is in a structure that dates back to 1880 when it was previously a tobacco company. However, Shirley Mae became the first African American to acquire the building in 1988, opening her namesake café. The café has been a local favorite for over 30 years, and it is known for its home cooking at a reasonable price. With Shirley Mae’s and her children’s involvement in every aspect of the business, the café has garnered fame and recognition.

Gates and Son’s Bar-B-Q – Kansas City’s Must-Try Barbecue Experience

The friendly service at any Gates and Sons Bar-B-Q location draws customers back time and time again. This family-owned enterprise, founded in 1946 by George W. Gates, is one of the first successful barbecue joints in Kansas City. The business has grown to six locations across the Missouri/Kansas state line. Gates and Son’s Bar-B-Q is renowned for its succulent ribs, but the menu is diverse, featuring barbecue chicken, sausage, mutton, beef, burnt ends, and ham. You can also purchase their sauces and dry seasonings at many national grocery chains and specialty stores.

Sylvia’s Restaurant – The Heart of Authentic Soul Food

Sylvia’s Restaurant in Harlem, New York, started as a small Black-owned luncheonette in 1962. It has since grown into an international culinary sensation under the capable hands of Sylvia Woods, fondly known as the Queen of Soul Food. The restaurant has been a must-visit for foodies, serving various dishes, including Grandma Julia’s cornmeal fried whiting, Carolina-style fried catfish, Sylvia’s world-famous barbecue ribs, and a host of other delectable options.