18 Essential Black-Owned Restaurants You Should Know in Boston
From fresh shucked oysters and goat-stuffed roti to the best Jollof rice in town.
Despite a less-than-adventurous national reputation, Boston’s dining scene is truly fueled by its diversity. Boston’s Black-owned food scene, in particular, embodies the global diaspora, from stateside Southern and Creole cultures to Caribbean and Latin American nations to countries spanning the continent of Africa and beyond. And in just the last few years, a rising tide of new Black-owned restaurants have opened throughout Greater Boston, from an oyster bar to a soul-Asian fusion restaurant to a Parisian crepes cafe. Without further ado, we present this list of essential Black-owned restaurants in Boston. Go forth and stuff your faces, Boston.
Chef-owner Anthony Caldwell opened this fruition of a long-held dream in February 2020, and despite everything that’s happened since, the business has not only survived but thrived thanks to an irresistible soul-Asian fusion menu. His latest triumph? An appearance on Food Network’s Chopped. Once you’ve tried the three must-haves—shrimp and grits, chicken and waffles, and St. Louis ribs—eat your way through a deep menu of sandwiches, wings, sliders, and bowls. Pro tip: Do NOT skip over the bang-bang shrimp appetizer, which is ambrosial (there’s also a cauliflower version for plant-based folks).
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable or order take-out via Toast.
We knew this was something special when Boston Mayor Kim Janey celebrated her birthday here on the restaurant’s opening weekend. The Pearl is the brainchild of co-owners Luther Pinckney, Teda DeRosa-Pinckney, Malik and Mika Winder, and Reggie Cummings, a group intent on presenting celebratory family seafood recipes to a convivial neighborhood crowd in a space free from any expected oyster bar pretension. Mission accomplished and exceeded—the setting is beautiful yet inviting, the service is as kind as any you’ll encounter, and the potent cocktails immediately get the conversational juices flowing. All of this is precursor to a lovely dining experience featuring chargrilled oysters, lump crab cakes, shrimp scampi, and a lobster roll served both hot and warm.
How to book: Reserve via Resy.
Chef-owner Douglass Williams—named one of the top 10 Best New Chefs in America 2020 by Food & Wine—draws on Italian influences and places a premium on seasonal ingredients to churn out impeccable fare like Sicilian mussels, gnocchi cacio e pepe, smoked short rib lasagna, and citrus almond cake. His menu rotates regularly, but the wine list remains committed to both Northern Italian and French bottles (although a white Negroni kick-off doesn't hurt). Wiliams is about to open a second restaurant in Newton as well as a New Haven-style pizza spot near North Station, so we’ll be reaping the rewards of his talents for many years to come.
How to book: Reserve OpenTable or order take-out via Toast.
Fort Hill Bar & Grill
Any Boston restaurant in continual operation since 1925 deserves a visit, and Fort Hill has earned its chops by serving impeccable Caribbean fare in a lively atmosphere. Think homemade ceviche, empanadas, fried chicken wings tossed in jerk habanero, and whole fried snapper doused with red coconut curry sauce. The mojitos alone demand a return (if nothing else, to sample all nine flavors), as does the DJed brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.
Pit Stop Barbecue
Whenever a Texas transplant starts lamenting Boston’s paltry barbecue scene, a helpful birdie flits down and whispers three magic words in their meat-seeking ear: “Pit Stop Barbecue.” For more than three decades, the Mattapan restaurant has doled out heaping platters of beef back, pork ribs, juicy grilled chicken, and slow-smoked brisket buttressed by craveworthy sides like candied yams, cornbread, collard greens, and mac n' cheese. Note: The spot’s open just Thursday through Saturday, making this appointment dining in the purest, most urgent sense.
How to book: Stop by for counter service, call 617-436-0485 for take-out, or order delivery via Uber Eats.
Jamaica Mi Hungry
This is the story of a catering business that grew into a food truck that exploded into a full-fledged restaurant—all because Chef Ernie Campbell’s cooking is just that delicious. Choose your jerk or curry entree, add two sides (the plantains and the dill slaw top the list), and be happy that Campbell operates a second pop-up spot in Allston.
How to book: Stop by for counter service or order take-out online.
Darryl's Corner Bar & Kitchen
Nia Grace’s soul food restaurant and jazz venue is a cornerstone of the South End community and about as vibrant as it gets, dishing up an all-day menu of fried catfish club sandwiches, chicken and waffles, Creole jambalaya, and St. Louis spare ribs. The Sunday brunch buffet is legendary (where else can you get scrambled eggs and BBQ ribs), as are the brunch cocktails; we eagerly await the return of the day and night jazz. Grace also helped found Boston’s Black Restaurant Month, now happening every August.
How to book: Reserve via Resy, order take-out via Toast, or get delivery via Uber Eats and GrubHub.
The Coast Café
Your search for the best fried chicken in town is officially over. Owner Tony Brooks looks to his family recipes to conjure up some of the finest soul food in town from this tiny storefront. Expect cornmeal-crusted fried catfish, barbecue pork ribs, and sweet potato pie, accompanied by classic sides like mac ’n cheese and collard greens. But it’s the fried bird that really seals the deal here—the meat is endlessly juicy, the skin is crispy and beautifully seasoned, and the recipe is strictly protected. It’s little wonder that Brooks goes through hundreds of pounds of poultry every single week.
How to book: Stop by for take-out or order delivery via Uber Eats.
Lucy Ethiopian Cafe
In the market for authentic Ethiopian cuisine? Settle in for layered vegetarian comforts like dinich wot (potato stew) or soulful meat courses like yebeg tibs fir fir (sauteed lamb cubes), all of which folds perfectly into spongy, tangy pockets of injera, an Ethiopean flatbread. Do not skip over the peanut tea, a singular sensory experience.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.
Chef and co-owner Cheryl Straughter has made a name for herself by dishing out three square meals of Southern-tinged comforts cooked up daily with copious amounts of love. It starts with her vast array of breakfast offerings, from sandwiches to omelettes to chocolate chip pancakes. Come lunchtime, you’re hard-pressed to choose between footlong po’boys, specialty sandwiches, and loaded salads, but rest assured that dinner’s on lock thanks to succulent steam table offerings like beef brisket and fried catfish.
How to book: Stop by for counter service, call 617-541-9000 for take-out, or order delivery via Grubhub and UberEats.
Oasis Vegan Veggie Parlor
Healthful things come to those who wait at this cozy corner cafe in Dorchester. All the made-to-order drinks and dishes, from juice shots to African couscous bowls to the vegan mac-n-cheese pie, reflect the passions and affections of owners Jahriffe Mackenzie and Nahdra Ra Kiros (Oasis is one of about 50 Black-owned vegan restaurants across the US). As you wait for your meal, bask in the atmospheric warmth from the aromatic pull of stewed lentils to the bright wall art to the piped-in music.
How to book: Stop by for counter service, call 617-237-9033 for take-out, or order delivery via Grubhub.
M&M BBQ is living history. The eatery was originally founded by Marion and Maurice Hill as a famed food truck called M&M Ribs back in 1982. Their grandson Geo Lambert took the reins more than a decade ago, and has since given those famous fall-off-the-bone pork ribs an even bigger platform with the team’s very first brick-and-mortar outpost. Housed inside Dorchester Brewing, M&M BBQ also serves sandwiches (brisket, pulled pork) along with barbecue chicken and bar snacks like grilled corn and loaded fries.
How to book: Reserve via Tock or order take-out and delivery online.
There’s no easier way for a Bostonian to revel in the Cape Verdean experience than with a night at Cesaria. The restaurant’s mission is three fold: great food, great service, and great entertainment. Eat your way through traditional fare like Katchupa (a stew of hominy, pork, beans, and kale), Feijoada (bean stew), and Cabritada (stewed goat with yucca, carrots, and potatoes), to the live musical stylings of a traditional morna band complete with clarinet, violin, guitar, and cavaquinho. The Sunday brunch is surely the best deal in town at $12 a person, although the $8.99 lunch buffet is another steal.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.
Your quest for quality Trinidadian street snacks ends here. This hole-in-the-wall Blue Hill Avenue storefront pushes the real deal: Curried chickpeas, cabbage, and a meat filling of your choice (stewed oxtail, chicken, or goat) folded inside a pillowy housemade roti wrap. Class dismissed.
How to book: Stop by for counter service or call 617-298-9850 for take-out.
Chef-owner Cecelia Lizotte originally launched Suya Joint as a catering business, but her trained approach to Nigerian cuisine proved too popular to contain and the current Roxbury space came to the fore in 2016 after a brief stint in Roslindale. The restaurant’s name borrows from Lizotte’s namesake dish, a flame-grilled spiced skewered beef that routinely sells out. The Jollof rice entree is another favorite, as is the Saturday-only Ofada stew—a rich, spicy concoction made with palm oil, fermented locust beans, onions, and bell peppers.
How to book: Order take-out online or get delivery via Seamless, Grubhub, Postmates, DoorDash, and Uber Eats.
Boston, meet the grass-fed burger of your dreams. Owner Tambo Barrow took a leap of faith some years back, wanting to bring a high-quality and financially approachable burger to his community. Today, the Bred Classic is a tower of flavor, a grass-fed patty topped with Applewood-smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, American cheese, and a smear of house aioli, all served on a buttery brioche bun. Other options like the Maui and the Parisian mix it up with toppings like pineapple and a fried egg while sandwiches like the jerk chicken BLT give a nod to Barrow’s Trinidadian and Bajan roots. If you’re feeling a little overindulgent, give thanks to healthier fare like smoothies, salads, and even a side of asparagus.
How to book: Order take-out online or get delivery via Uber Eats and Grubhub.
Slades Bar & Grill
You know the signage: A huge 3-D piano circling a globe, embodying the restaurant’s embrace of entertainment and community. Slade’s has been a gathering place for Boston’s Black community since 1935, hosting the likes of Muhammad Ali and Martin Luther King Jr.; Celtics luminary Bill Russell was even an owner in the 1960s. Today, co-owners Leo Papile and daughter Britney Kyle Papile carry the torch with classic soul food (including the restaurant’s famous fried wings and the oxtail special), sublime cocktails (go for the Malibu bucket), dancing, and regular live music and karaoke, which should be returning any time now. It’s a place where everyone knows everyone and you feel lucky to be there.
How you book: Stop by for first come, first served seating, order take-out via Toast, or get delivery via Grubhub and DoorDash.
The Little Crepe Cafe
Owner Kamil Sylvain has brought Paris to Cambridge with this beautifully appointed neighborhood haven tucked between Harvard and Porter Squares and peddling an extensive menu of both sweet and savory crepes along with Belgian waffles, salads, sandwiches, espresso drinks, and smoothies. It’s the kind of place you’ll want to return to over and over again with a book and a long, languid afternoon stretched out before you.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order take-out and delivery via Grubhub.