How to Celebrate Black Restaurant Week in the DMV
From decadent bread pudding to plant-based soul food and so much more.
The greater DC region’s Black Restaurant Week returns from Friday, September 17 to Sunday, September 26, marking the event’s second iteration in the District. Founded five years ago by Warren Luckett, Falayn Ferrell, and Derek Robinson in Houston, Texas, the movement has expanded to 15 regions across the US to highlight and garner support for Black-owned eateries, smoothie shops, bakeries, and more.
Aimed at promoting the sustainability of Black-owned food businesses, this year’s restaurant week has expanded from restaurants to food trucks, sweets, and other non-traditional food businesses. When restaurants all over the region shut their doors due to the pandemic, Black-owned businesses were hit the hardest, so the event is more important than ever after such a tumultuous year for many small businesses. As eateries begin to rebuild, this week serves as an opportunity to revisit old favorites and try out new ventures that emerged despite the challenges, so check out our list of some of the best restaurants in the DMV area to support this week.
Calabash Tea & Tonic
Founder Sunyatta Amen drew inspiration from her Jamaican and Native American great-grandmother’s formulas to create more than 80 teas available at Calabash Tea & Tonic. Amen is a fifth generation master herbalist and grew up behind the counters of her father’s herb shops and vegan juice bars in Harlem, so stop by to pick up tea and spices to bring home or sample tonics and light vegan food in the shop.
How to book: Order online or in store for pickup
If you’re in the mood to sit down and enjoy a casual meal with a southern flare, head just outside the District to Alexandria to experience this cozy spot. The full service restaurant specializes in craft cocktails, fried chicken, and brunch fare. For restaurant week, Hen Quarter is offering three courses for $35, so you can start with hushpuppies or crispy Brussels sprouts; try fried chicken and waffles or shrimp and grits; and finish off your meal with a brownie sundae or bread pudding.
Jody’s Good Mood Café
This seafood bar and grill spot will put anyone in a good mood. With Happy Hour everyday from 4-7 pm, select deals on appetizers, and a live DJ Thursday through Saturday, you’re bound to have a good time, just like the restaurant’s name promises. Try the crab cake platter, one of the most popular items on the menu, or indulge in the bang bang shrimp or the seafood boil bags.
Land of Kush
Find the vegan soul food dish of your dreams at this takeout spot. The healthy eatery, established in 2011, has a menu of 100% plant-based dishes like black-eyed pea fritters, lentil patties, and BBQ vegan ribs. Co-owners Gregory and Naija Wright-Brown established the restaurant as a place for Black people to enjoy healthier soul food, and Naija continues that mission as the co-creator of Vegan Soulfest and Maryland Vegan Restaurant Week.
Known for its Southern-style comfort food, Toyin Alli has been slinging bread pudding and gumbo from local venues and food trucks since 2010. Popular menu items include chicken and beef sausage gumbo, shrimp and grits, and red beans and rice. Of course, you can’t leave without trying Alli’s signature dish (and the inspiration for the eatery’s name)—the Brown Butter Bourbon Bread Puddin’. The eatery has expanded to include a Union Market location and two food trucks, so there are plenty of places to catch this must-try spot.
For a refreshing break on a hot day, visit this smoothie and tea spot. The shop sells 100% whole food smoothies, according to owner Victorious Hall. For Hall, it was important to establish a shop where he grew up as a way to give back to the community that raised him. The venture switches its menu up periodically, so check out the website to see what’s in season this time of year.