Black History Month

15 Essential Black-Owned Restaurants in NYC You Need to Try

Timeless stalwarts and new classics across all five boroughs.

Sylvia’s spread | PHOTO BY COLE SALADINO FOR THRILLIST
Sylvia’s spread | PHOTO BY COLE SALADINO FOR THRILLIST

Black cuisine is as diverse and multi-faceted as Black culture itself. With influences from the Caribbean, the American South, and, of course various African countries, many of the beautiful and nuanced differences between the various cultures within the diaspora are recognizable across aspects such as music, speech, style, design, and of course, food. And in NYC—with celebrated enclaves such as Harlem, Bed-Stuy, the South Bronx, and Crown Heights—along with a citywide Black population of 22% (1.9 millions residents), as the home to many folks of African and Carribean descent, in addition to those who settled here from the Great Migration, it’s often looked at as the perfect canvas for all these different hues and flavors to shine.
  
Korsha Wilson, food writer and podcast host of A Hungry Society, is an industry expert who tells stories about Black foodways in America. When it comes to NYC, she highlights that on top of their outstanding food, many restaurants like Lolo’s Seafood Shack in Harlem and Negril in Park Slope are great representations of the city’s Black culinary landscape. “Black cuisine is multifaceted,” says Wilson. “Lolo's is presenting Bahamian foods and Negril is Jamaican, with both showing how even within Caribbean cuisine, there's differences and regional specialties. The same is true of African-American foodways.” 

Since the onset of COVID-19, early statistics in the pandemic revealed that 41% of Black-owned businesses in America closed, a rate that remains the highest of any racial group in the U.S. And sadly, this includes the shuttering of beloved local Black culinary institutions such as Gloria’s and Glady’s. In Wilson’s opinion, the pandemic has made it just that much harder for Black eateries to flourish. “The regulations and rules are constantly changing,” she says, “which is hard for operators to keep up with—and Black and Brown neighborhoods are often the hardest hit in terms of COVID infections.” 

As one of the country’s most important epicenters of Black culture, NYC offers no shortage of Black-owned restaurants to choose from. The offerings are as diverse as the city’s Black diaspora itself, and we’ve rounded up 15 essential Black-owned restaurants to try across the five boroughs. Support them not only during Black History Month but every month of the year, along with all Black-owned small businesses near you. And as always, tip generously, mask up, and eat on.

Amy Ruth’s is a Harlem classic that’s been serving the community since 1998. Known as the ‘authentic soul of New York’ to patrons, the restaurant offers a range of creative waffle dishes and comfort food classics like waffles with southern honey-dipped fried chicken or a fisherman’s platter with fried shrimp, catfish, and crab cakes. And many of the eatery’s signature items are named after famous patrons and other historical Black figures. Go for the smothered pork chops (aka The Gabrielle Union); the baked catfish (aka The Ruby Dee); or the fried, smothered, baked, or barbecue chicken (aka The President Barack Obama).
How to order: Order takeout via storefront or by calling 212-280-8779. Order delivery via Grubhub, Doordash, Seamless.
 

Available for Delivery/Takeout
Bayou Restaurant
Courtesy of Bayou

Experience the Cajun-Creole taste of New Orleans in Staten Island at Bayou Restaurant. The menu has everything from a Bubba Gump Shrimp ‘po boy to river boat crab cakes. One of their signature items is seafood jambalaya with shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels, calamari, crawfish tails, and Andouille sausage simmered in Creole tomato sauce, served with arborio rice. When it comes to having a Bayou-style drink, the eatery offers a large range of cocktails from colorful daiquiris and mojitos to sangria.
How to order: Order takeout via Chownow.
 

Available for Delivery/Takeout
Black Nile Seafood & Soul Food
Courtesy of Black Nile Restaurant

This soul food and seafood restaurant dancing on the border between Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy offers unique and bold flavors. Operated by a husband-and-wife duo, Black Nile only serves halal meat and poultry prepared with signature herb seasonings and sauces (which are also available for purchase). Start off with their crab cornbread before choosing from a large selection of seafood served over a creamy black pepper sauce or cheese grits. In addition, there’s also the option to create your own grilled, fried, or baked meal featuring any main dish from lobster tail to chicken to tofu. Finish it off with peach cobbler, variations of bundt cake, coconut yam pie, and more.
How to order: Order takeout by calling 347-879-8911, and order delivery via Seamless, Uber Eats

Available for Delivery/Takeout

Bunna Cafe

Bushwick

Founded in 2011, Bunna—which literally translates to coffee in Ethiopian—takes inspiration from its ancestral roots and transports it to Bushwick. Not only does coffee play an integral role in the Ethiopian economy, but it also fuels its citizens and is a valuable part of their culture. But at Bunna Cafe, vegans and vegetarians also get excited for the spot’s plant-based food offerings with staples like their signature feast that includes seven entrees (choose from gomen, keysir selata sauteed, misir wot, yater kik alicha, and more) with injera served on the side; in addition to menu items like sambusa baklava. Drink offerings beyond coffee include golden honey wine, Ethopian beers, and their popular layered pureed juice. Pre-COVID, Bunna’s communal dining style was a part of the charm of this romantic cafe, but they’ve now shifted to delivery with everything you need arriving in a pizza box. 
How to order: Order takeout or delivery via Caviar, Doordash, Grubhub, Seamless, Uber Eats.

Available for Delivery/Takeout

Charles Pan Fried Chicken is an iconic Harlem eatery that was founded by Charles Gabriel after his 20-year stint at the now shuttered Copeland’s, a legendary soul food institution that closed in 2007. Charles Pan Fried Chicken originally launched as a sidewalk stand, which then grew to a food truck, and after two iterations of his namesake restaurant, New Yorkers have the Frederick Douglass Boulevard eatery they all know and love today. The pan fried chicken is a must-try, along with the thickly smothered pork chops. Classic sides include collard greens, okra, macaroni and cheese, and black eyed peas.
How to order: Storefront. Call 212-281-1800 for takeout order takeout and delivery via Doordash, Uber Eats

Available for Delivery/Takeout

Fish & Ting

Edenwald

Transport yourself from the Bronx to the Islands with Fish N’ Ting restaurant. Choose from Carribean classics like curry shrimp, selections of fish made to order served with veggies, or pastas. Many rave about the jerk chicken and oxtails that are served over peas and rice, and both meals are known to be flavorful and tender. In addition, Fish N’ Ting is now offering specialty cocktails to-go with names like Jackfruit Martini, Poison Ivy, and Firefly—but if you’re looking for something with less of a punch, there’s also their signature carrot juice made daily in house. 
How to order: Call 718-881-6116 or order takeout and delivery via Doordash, Grubhub, Seamless, UberEats.

 

Available for Delivery/Takeout

Open since 2006, Henrica’s offers a distinct culinary style inspired by a combination of two cuisines: Jamaican and Chinese. The menu is broken down into separate sections with Jamaican and Chinese classics, and then specialty items that combine flavors from both cultures. Dedicated Jamaican offerings include pigeon peas soup, stamp & go, and curried goat; and dedicated Chinese offerings include peppered steak, shrimp and lobster lo mein, and steamed snapper with ginger and scallion. House specialties include Henrica’s fried rice with beef, shrimp, and chicken; jerk chicken lo mein, baby back ribs with sweet potato fries, and jerk chicken pasta al fredo. 
How to order: Call 718-527-7355 for takeout and delivery, and order catering via website.
 

Inspired by the locally owned and operated seaside eateries referred to as lolos in the British West Indies, Lolo’s Seafood Shack offers island-style barbecue and Caribbean comfort foods. Since 2014, Chefs Raymond Mohan and Leticia Skai Young have been cooking up their delicious flavors in Harlem with standouts such as the jerk chicken with Durty Rice and Johnny Cakes (a dense, slightly sweet bread that Lolo’s packs with flavor); the signature Pom Pom Shrimp and fries basket; and sweet plantains with cojita cheese and herbs. But a visit to this seafood joint wouldn’t be complete without trying the seafood boil, where diners can fill up on crawfish, shrimp, and crab legs while sipping on the popular Lolo’s Punch made from coconut rum, sorrel, and ginger.
How to order: Storefront. Order takeout and delivery via Doordash, Grubhub, Seamless, Postmates, Uber Eats.
 

Available for Delivery/Takeout

Peaches HotHouse

Bedford-Stuyvesant

Unlike other popular Brooklyn spots with similar offerings, Peaches Hot House’s menu showcases that southern food isn't as simple as baked macaroni and cheese and fried chicken—but it also requires an abundance of soul. At this Bed-Stuy eatery, their menu boasts classics like the signature fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, crispy chicken sandwich with a notable spicy mayo sauce, shrimp sandwich, bourbon butter cake, and more. Once you’ve tried out their Bed-Stuy location, be sure to hit up its sister spots in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, along with another Bed-Stuy locale. 
How to order: Storefront. Call 718-483-9111 for takeout or order takeout and delivery via Caviar, Doordash.

 

Available for Delivery/Takeout

Queens Bully

Forest Hills

Queens Bully takes the zeal of American barbecue and blends it with global flavors. Chef Melvin “Boots” Johnson, (also the 2018 champion of the Food Network's Chopped), opened the gastropub in 2017 and has been showcasing the cultural diversity of its home borough since. The menu offers popular game-day starters like loaded fries and a large variety of wings that also come in the vegan-friendly option of cauliflower. A large brunch menu, taco Tuesdays, and an entire section dedicated to smoked meat sandwiches is also available. You also may want to peep the Insta-worthy creamy cheddar mac that comes with the option to add on shrimp, brisket, or smoked jackfruit. 
How to order: Heated outdoor seating is available. Call 718-520-8600 for takeout or order takeout and delivery via website, Grubhub, Seamless, UberEats.

Available for Delivery/Takeout
Sylvia's Restaurant
Courtesy of Sylvia's Restaurant

Known for its soul food, in addition to being a hub of Black culture that regularly draws politicians, celebrities, and plenty of locals, Sylvia’s is arguably one of the best-known eateries both in Harlem and NYC. Opened in 1962, the restaurant’s unwavering popularity is in thanks to the excellent dishes first served by founder Sylvia Woods, aka “The Queen of Soul Food,” and the four generations of her descendants who continue the legacy of this family-owned business today. Popular items include fried chicken, barbecue ribs, macaroni and cheese, cornbread, sweet potato pie, and more. Sylvia’s also recently participated in Thrillist Ghost Kitchen and offered delivery to downtown Manhattan for the first time ever. 
How to order: Outdoor seating is first come, first serve. Order takeout by calling 212-996-0660 or via Sylvia’s app, Chownow. Order delivery via website.
 

Available for Delivery/Takeout

With its name inspired by a line from the 2002 movie, Friday After Next, Taste So Good opened in 2018 by pro-skater Tyshawn ‘TJ’ Jones, a South Bronx native. Inspired by the lack of food choices in his community and wanting to give back to his childhood neighborhood, the kitchen at Jones’ Caribbean-American spot is helmed by his mother, and offers classics like jerk shrimp, ribs, rotis, rasta pasta and oxtail, but the restaurant’s most popular item is but the spicy jerk chicken. 
How to order: Order on Grubhub and Seamless.

Available for Delivery/Takeout

The Islands

Crown Heights

Located between the border of Crown Heights and Prospect Heights, The Islands offers Jamaican classics in Brooklyn. Open since 2001, the restaurant’s menu includes jerk chicken, oxtail, escovitch snapper, curried goat, okra and codfish. The eatery is also  known for its signature long-simmered stews where the meat falls off the bone. Their side dishes include a dense baked macaroni and cheese, and for more traditional offerings, go for the plantains, rice and peas or stewed cabbage (all of which have an essence of coconut oil).
How to order: Call at 718-398-3575 for takeout. Order delivery via Grubhub, Seamless, Postmates, Uber Eats
 

Available for Delivery/Takeout

Urban Vegan Kitchen takes any of your reservations about vegan cooking and tosses them out the window. Opened in 2016 by Pamela Elizabeth (also of Blossom) with a focus on southern-inspired recipes, UVK has everything from buffalo seitan wings to their popular ‘Chick-un’ waffles, made with southern fried seitan and paired with sauteed garlic kale, crispy Belgian waffle, and maple mustard aioli. The restaurant also has a selection of warm cocktails drinks to warm up to this winter, including a Hot Toddy Pendergrass and Spyda's Hot Cyda with wild elderberries, apples, cinnamon, clove, star anise, cardamom, orange peel, and coconut sugar. Customers can also make a donation through the website for a special partnership with Support & Feed, an organization providing nourish plant-based meals for those in need and living within marginalized communities.
How to order: Make reservations via Resy for outdoor patio. Order takeout and delivery via Doordash, GrubHub, Seamless, Postmates.

Available for Delivery/Takeout
Available for Reservations

Vibes

Ozone Park

At Vibes Bar and Cafe, a Jamacian-American restaurant on Liberty Avenue, their motto is "good food, good music, good people, and good times.” From an all-day breakfast menu and seafood dinners, to their signature turkey wing dinner, Vibes is a popular destination for comfort food in Queens. Items include macaroni and cheese, garlicky mashed potatoes, grilled prime rib, lobster pasta, and more. For the adventurous, the top-selling Jack Daniel and Hennessy-flavored chicken wings are also a must try.
How to order: Outdoor patio seating is available. Call 718-262-0433 for takeout, or order takeout and delivery via Grubhub, Seamless, Uber Eats.
 

Available for Delivery/Takeout
Janae Price is an Editorial Assistant and contributor to Thrillist.
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