For Black History Month—and all year long—dig into these popular restaurants in the West.
Flaky biscuits, fork-tender oxtails, and single-origin medium roast coffee are some of the delicious things to enjoy in the West’s tastiest Black-owned eateries. On top of serving top-notch food, these restaurants enrich their communities by doing things like working with high school interns and hiring staff who might otherwise struggle to find employment. Restaurants like these should be supported all year long, and especially during Black History Month.
Chef Nelson German is passionate about working with youth at alaMar, his intimate Uptown Oakland restaurant where he serves a roster of seafood-heavy dishes inspired by his mother’s cooking. Having grown up without access to job training programs, German makes it a point to hire local high school students as interns. Some have even stayed on to become full-time employees after graduation. While you nosh on salt cod seafood stew or Creole BBQ-glazed calamari with citrus aioli, you can also sip wine from local Black-owned wineries like Wachira.
San Francisco Bay Area native Keba Konte was a cafe owner when he noticed a lack of diversity in the coffee industry. Coffee originated in Africa and is mainly grown in Latin America and Africa today, but those cultures are rarely represented on this side of the supply chain. Dedicated to reclaiming that heritage and providing good jobs for the community, Konte took matters into his own hands, closed his cafes, and started Red Bay Coffee in Oakland. He hires staff members with employment barriers and carefully considers all vendors, suppliers, and producers to make sure their values align with his. The Brazilian Cake Lady, a full-bodied medium roast with mild acidity, is one of Red Bay’s popular single-origin coffees with notes of golden raisin, nougat, and citrus zest. Try it at multiple spots in Oakland or find it at retailers and restaurants throughout the Bay Area and beyond.
While Southern food is sometimes stereotyped as unsophisticated and unhealthy fare, chef-owner Edouardo Jordan’s Seattle hotspot, JuneBaby, proves otherwise. The menu was created to honor the true beauty of the cuisine, and Jordan’s dishes celebrate their simple roots while adding new layers of nuance, as tasted in bites like the boiled peanuts flavored with Cajun spice and country ham broth. He definitely brought attention to his mission when he won not one but two James Beard Awards in 2017. In addition to winning Best Chef: Northwest, Jordan made history as the first African American to win the national award for the Best New Restaurant.
Malachi Jenkins and Roberto Smith grew up in Los Angeles as childhood friends but ended up in rival gangs. They created Trap Kitchen when they decided to change their lives and bring people together over fried chicken and pineapple shrimp bowls. After starting as a pop-up restaurant in Compton—catering for the likes of Kobe Bryant and Snoop Dogg—Trap Kitchen opened as a permanent outdoor food truck in Portland.
The restaurant business runs in Larry “Lo-Lo” White’s blood. As soon as he could walk, he was put to work bussing tables in his grandmother’s restaurant. He eventually started experimenting and developing recipes on his own and today, his casual eatery, Lo-Lo’s Chicken and Waffles, has four locations in Arizona (including Phoenix and Scottsdale) as well as spots in Las Vegas and Southlake, Texas. It’s no wonder people love Lo-Lo’s: The menu dishes up everyone’s favorites, like crispy fried chicken and waffles—of course—and buttermilk biscuits smothered in country sausage gravy, all made from scratch.
This article was originally published in February 2019 and updated in November 2019. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to confirm information.