A Guide to Black-Owned Restaurants in Philadelphia
Some of the city's top Black-owned cafes, coffee shops and eateries...
Black-owned restaurants, cafes and bakeries are the lifeblood of Philadelphia’s vibrant hospitality scene, adding dynamic flavors and a singular touch to an ever-growing repertoire of culinary hotspots.
Simply put, Philadelphia’s proud of our buzzing Black-owned and -operated restaurants. Many of these eateries are small, independently owned or family-operated businesses that reflect the city’s diversity and commitment to fostering minority-owned enterprises.
Craving an authentic Ethiopian dish? Meander over to West Philadelphia and stop by cozy neighborhood spot Dahlak for beef tibs and sambusas. Got soul food on the brain? Tasties has you covered. Want to warm up with a cup of joe? Fairmount’s Coffee Cream & Dreams will get you plenty caffeinated. Need to satisfy a sweet tooth? Check out The Sweet Life Bakeshop for a banana pudding you won’t soon forget.
And if takeout’s more your speed, don’t fret. You can still support Philadelphia’s Black-owned eateries by ordering delivery through Black and Mobile , a local, Black-founded startup that supports the city’s other Black-owned food businesses.
To give you a starting point for planning your next meal out, we’ve compiled a list of some of Philadelphia’s standout Black-owned restaurants, bars, bakeries and cafes. With so many delectable options to choose from, we won’t tell if you try out two spots in a day … or even go back for thirds.
RESTAURANTS & BARS
Carl Lewis owns this beloved West Philly destination that serves soul, Caribbean and American cuisines with a soulful, Cajun twist. On the menu: healthy portions of their signature Island Wings, New Orleans-style blackened salmon topped with shrimp scampi, and jerk lunch options.
Get ready to break bread (or in this case, injera) at this cozy Ethiopian restaurant that serves up budget-friendly, shareable cuisine with no shortage of flavor. Don’t miss signature dishes like Gored-Gored (beef seasoned with kibbeh and awaze) and a smorgasbord of vegetarian options, including Azifah (whole brown lentils blended with mustard, onion, jalapenos and spices). Drop in for breakfast every day between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. for dishes like Ful (fava beans with onions, tomatoes, pepper and olive oil served with bread).
Aksum Cafe — owned by John Neufvilles — is a Mediterranean, Afro-centric spot on Baltimore Avenue that serves great marinated Lebanese chicken over rice or mashed potatoes, Moroccan spicy shrimp, and Mediterranean-style red snapper, along with weekend brunches of Moroccan chicken and waffles, spiced shrimp and grits, and eggs Benedict.
On the menu at this raw food/vegan café owned and run by the mother/daughter duo of Nyeisha Cabiness and Beverly Nedley: nut burgers, quinoa salads, chickpea chili and more.
One of the newest restaurants in Philadelphia’s historic Old City neighborhood, Amina brings a healthy dose of Southern food complete with a dash of Nigerian influence to the city’s restaurant scene. House specialties include Grilled Lamb Lollipops, Down Home Gumbo (rice, shrimp, crab, oysters, chicken wings, spicy chicken sausage in a rich broth), Flaming Lobster Bisque and the Nigerian Hot Chicken sandwich (bread and butter pickles, soul slaw, peanut butter on a brioche roll). Owned by Felicia Wilson and chef-partner Darryl Harmon, Amina also serves brunch and a lengthy cocktail list. Pro tip: Try out Amina’s take on the classic bloody Mary, which uses Harmon’s signature spice blend to pack a special kick.
Where: AMINA, 104 Chestnut Street
Philly chef and pit master Craig Martin owns this barbecue joint near the city’s Callowhill neighborhood. Stop by for the shop’s juicy beef and pork rib slabs, delicious beef brisket sandwiches and sides like Bourbon baked beans and mac and cheese.
Atiya Ola serves vegetarian, vegan and raw dishes meant to help customers tap into their spirituality. Stir-fries, salads, wraps and burgers are packed with healthy, natural ingredients at this West Philly spot.
Owner and pit master Tank Barkley serves up heaping platters of soul food and barbecue. Thinkhalf or full slabs of sauce-slathered St. Louis ribs; yams and apples; baked mac and cheese; garlicky string beans; potato salad; and pulled pork and chicken platters that draw a crowd to this North Philly spot . Note: The restaurant is open Fridays and Saturdays, while the Barkley’s BBQ food truck can be found at spots throughout the region other days of the week.
Named after Booker Wright — a server who risked his life for voicing what it was like to be a Black waiter in the 1960s at an all-white restaurant in Mississippi and eventually was murdered in a confrontation with a customer at an eatery he later opened — this West Philly destination owned by Saba Tedla draws families and more with Southern-inspired cuisine, weekend brunch and great drinks.
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This charming Brewerytown soul food eatery got its name because its food is so good, it melts in your mouth. Fried wings and sides sell out fast, and home-baked cakes and pies come straight from the oven of owner Kevin Bell’s mother.
Find jerk chicken, reggae and jazz at Caribbean Feast Restaurant in the heart of North Philadelphia. As seen on The Cooking Channel’s Road Trip with G. Garvin , this Jamaican spot serves up oxtail, goat and plenty of seafood, as well as homemade juices. Once a year, the restaurant hosts a family day event that provides 250 free meals to kids.
An acronym for “creativity, revolutionary, artistry, youth,” chef-owner Saquan Smith embraces all four characteristics alongside his own Jamaican roots to bring delectable Southern dishes to his BYOB in Philadelphia’s Old City. Combining Caribbean flare with American soul food, the menu is littered with chef’s specials like Mumbo-Glazed Salmon and chicken breast stuffed with spinach and tomato, while weekend brunch specials include chicken and waffles available in French toast, red velvet or half-and-half varieties. Cray Taste also emphasizes hiring youth in need of mentorship and job opportunities.
Where: Cray Taste - Old City, 118 Market Street
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Nestled in the heart of West Philadelphia, this family-owned Eritrean-Ethiopian concept transports your taste buds thousands of miles away to East Africa with traditional fare like beef tibs, sambusas and doro okra — plus a healthy assortment of vegetarian options. This laid-back spot has been a neighborhood staple since 1987 and boasts an easygoing bar in the back. Keep the party going with hookah available on-site, and DJs on weekend nights add even more pizzazz to the flavors in your food.
Slow-cooked brisket, ribs and barbecue chicken taste as good as they smell at Dibbs , where the meats come by the pound, in platters and on sandwiches. Collard greens, mac and cheese, and seasonal offerings like tuna salad and corn on the cob complete the messy, incredible meal.
From the owners of Alif Brew & Mini Mart Inc. (see below), Doro Bet is an Ethiopian Chicken House that expertly crafts gluten-free fried chicken. No visit is complete without a marinated, spit-roasted chicken shawarma, while fried thighs, drumsticks and wings available in a variety of spice levels also satisfy. For the vegan in your party, there’s the falafel sandwich or teff-flour-fried mushrooms. And don’t skip the sauces either: the Mitmita Aioli spicy sauce, senafich Ethiopian mustard, spiced honey, and garlic aioli are sure-fire crowd pleasers.
Based in Strawberry Mansion and serving North Philadelphia, this pizza restaurant from owner Muhammad Abdul-Hadi and executive chef Michael Carter features inventive pies, dressed-up chicken wings, hand-cut fries and milkshakes. In addition to serving up flavorful, creative eats, the shop exclusively employs formerly incarcerated individuals and is committed to paying a fair wage.
This elegant Center City haunt from Chad and Hanna Williams reopened after a pandemic hiatus with an indulgent, seasonally inspired eight-course tasting menu served in a luxurious upstairs dining room. Complex flavors spring to life in creative culinary masterpieces like lamb rib with cherry jus and Jimmy Nardello peppers or grilled quail pâté with coco bread. Treat yourself with a wine pairing (you deserve it) or pick an excellently named cocktail from the lengthy list, like the Judgement of Paris (calvados, Torino vermouth, lemon and cilantro).
Philly’s first Black-owned Chinese restaurant uses fresh halal ingredients to satisfy every takeout craving, from General Tso’s chicken to shrimp fried rice. But where the father-and-son owners truly shine is with flavor innovations like the chicken cheesesteak rolls and wings tossed in sweet and tangy homemade “fusion sauce.” Dig in.
Owner J. Roger Powe III created this popular morning-through-afternoon Brewerytown spot serving good-for-you breakfast and lunch eats. Among the offerings: omelets, French toast, breakfast sandwiches, salmon patties, chicken pesto paninis, fruit smoothies, salads and more.
Operating since 2020, Level Up celebrates its status as one of a few Black-owned and LGBTQ-welcoming spaces in Philadelphia’s Gayborhood. The club is a great cocktail spot, but also widely known for its stacked entertainment calendar. Guests can enjoy DJ shows, karaoke nights, drag performances and trans-specific shows all created with the goal of providing an environment where everyone feels represented and safe.
It’s a Cecil B. Moore institution. In a 19th-century cycling clubhouse and 20th-century music hotspot where John Coltrane, Grover Washington, Jr. and The Temptations performed, this bar and event space owned by Jake Adams serves lunch, dinner and drinks everyday. Don’t forget to warm up those pipes for karaoke on Wednesdays and Fridays.
This North Philly spot serves up the flavor with stuffed shrimp, racks of lamb, crab cakes and popular salmon dishes, in addition to burgers, pastas and desserts.
This Northern Liberties spot serves Jamaican and American fusion in the form of crispy chicken patties, homebrewed ginger beer and even a jerk chicken cheesesteak.
Just north of City Hall, the Bynum brothers’ chic SOUTH Restaurant & Jazz Club serves up fare like freshly shucked oysters, fried green tomatoes and shrimp remoulade, shrimp and grits, buttermilk fried chicken, and vegan jambalaya. You can also expect good, old-fashioned hospitality and an extensive wine program.
Named after a popular West African street food dish that originated in Nigeria, Dera Nd-Ezuma’s restaurant in Northern Liberties uses authentic, imported Nigerian spices to craft traditional suya — a spiced, smoked meat skewer. The fast-casual eatery also offers customizable bowls that pair steak, shrimp or brussel sprouts with various rices and sides of plantains or cornbread. Also on deck: seasoned whole tilapia marinated with Nigerian tomato stew or suya tacos, which you can wash down with house-brewed beverages like Zobo, a Nigerian-style hibiscus-ginger tea.
Long known for casual, takeout soul food, chef and owner Barbara Dewan has leveled up with a stylish setting for down-home wings, candied yams, fried rice and sandwiches.
Where: Tasties, 1214 N. 52nd Street
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This fast-casual joint whips up health-conscious meals using fresh, plant-based ingredients, expertly crafting vegan salads, flatbreads, sandwiches and burgers that don’t sacrifice any flavor. Owned by Lamarr Ingram, the restaurant’s mission is to serve up meals that help move customers toward optimal health, wellness and fitness. For added range, Vegan-ish also offers pescatarian dishes like the Bangin’ Blackened Salmon Burrito (kale, shaved radish, fried capers and chickpeas with Caesar dressing in a flour tortilla), helping put the “ish” in its moniker.
Where: Vegan-ish, 1519 Spring Garden Street
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Owned by Addis Ababa native Hayat Alif, this Ethiopian restaurant, coffee shop and corner store triple-whammy graces Philadelphia’s food scene with caffeinated brews, diverse pantry essentials, hearty meals and more. Eat your heart out all week long with classics like spicy chicken wraps made with injera or try something new with ever-updating weekend brunch specials. Get creative with your order on Taco Tuesdays, stacked with rotating options like al pastor tacos loaded with butternut squash, roasted pineapple, avocado, pico de gallo and pickled onions, and wash it all down with the Alif Special coffee infused with Ethiopian ginger.
This colorful Washington Square West spot adds an element to the coffee-pastry-sandwich trifecta: house-cured meats, served on toasts or by the pound. Owner Thane Wright, a long-time coffee industry veteran, seeks to enhance the natural flavors of the coffees served in his cafe by foregoing any syrups, powders or artificial flavors.
Satisfy breakfast and lunch cravings in Southwest Philly with stuffed French toast, salmon cake hash, seafood and spinach egg rolls, and smoothies at Chef Reeky’s — and don’t forget to order grits. Available in several varieties, the Party Grits — jumbo shrimp, Chilean salmon, lump crab and jack cheddar dressed with scallions and scampi sauce — are the real standout.
Travelers and locals alike can feel at ease at this charming spot , where owners Stephanie Ford and Sonja West strive to make every customer feel right at home with simple pleasures like fresh zucchini bread, chocolate croissants, caffeinated concoctions and sandwiches like the turkey sausage, egg and cheese on brioche.
This Center City favorite has kept owner Shawn Nesbit busy since opening Good Karma Café in 2008. The brand serves up fair trade and certified organic coffee made with rich flavors, as well as small bites and sandwiches.
Helmed by Omar Tate ( Esquire Chef of the Year 2020, TIME 100Next in 2021) and Cybille St.Aude-Tate, Honeysuckle Provisions is a trailblazing Afrocentric grocery and cafe in West Philadelphia featuring Black-made, -owned and -grown foods. Pop in for eggs and grits dishes at breakfast, or grab one of the signature hoagies (including the turnip hoagie) for lunch.
Vegan peanut butter blondies, vanilla cream beignets, steaming Americanos and other goodies quickly made Thunder Mug Cafe a favorite of the East Falls community — and the Philadelphia 76ers, who selected the spot as the 2022 recipient of its annual Buy Black Program. Customer go-tos at this relaxing cafe, owned by Lizette Apy, include oat milk lattes, breakfast options like the ham and cheese croissant, and the delightfully strong cold brew.
Milkshakes and mousses whipped up by a mother-daughter duo delight customers looking for something sweet in West Philly. The fanciful shakes are decked out with cookies, cake pieces, whipped cream and colorful sprinkles piled high in flavors like cookies & cream and Fruity Pebbles. Each mousse — not quite ice cream, not quite pudding — is served in a cup with towering sweets, like the birthday mousse and sweet potato mousse.
The pastries and desserts at Darnel’s Cakes are out of this world, but this little cafe tucked between Old City and Northern Liberties has a full menu that’s also worth exploring. Homemade buttermilk biscuits, baked mac and cheese and a BLT sandwich with Thai chili-shallot mayo are among the offerings. The bakery is also committed to raising awareness about HIV/AIDS, and partners with local nonprofit Bebashi, which aims to empower the Black and Brown communities, to discreetly include free HIV testing kits in food orders.
Where: Darnel's, 444 N. 3rd Street
Denise Gause originally created her North Philly homage to sugar, eggs and flour in 1990 before a fire closed her 25-year-old business in 2015. But Gause did what any strong baker would do: rebuilt it. Today, she’s since passed Denise’s Delicacies on to her nieces Keshia Davis and Cynthia Benton, who are committed to carrying on their aunt’s sugary legacy as the phone rings off the hook for pound cake, pies, sticky buns, donuts, cookies and wedding cakes.
It’s all about the French toast for Lokal Artisan Foods : French Toast Bites, French Toast Bites Beer, French Toast Bites Coffee and French Toast Bites Gelato to be exact. Started in 2018, this collection of food and beverage products uses ingredients grown and sourced responsibly with respect to origin and seasonality. Devotees to the sweet treats can find French Toast Bites at places like Cherry Street Pier, Spruce Street Harbor Park and at seasonal pop-up events at City Hall and more.
The name says it all. Owner Pamela Thornton’s pound cakes delight in every flavor and every neighborhood. Lemon blueberry, sour buttercream and more are on the menu in the Kensington and Yeadon storefronts, as well as Thornton’s dessert-on-wheels Pound Cake Heaven dessert truck. But the bubbly 7 Up pound cake is a can’t-miss (and a customer favorite).
Where: Pound Cake Heaven - Kensington, 3415 Kensington Avenue
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Pound Cake Heaven - Dessert Truck, 3400 Market Street
Mark and Tia El made history when they opened their Reading Terminal Market stall in early 2021. Sweet T’s Bakery is the first Black-owned bakery in the market’s roughly 130-year history. The Els have served Philly baked goods since 2014, operating first as a South Philly storefront and then out of a food truck before starting out with a temporary spot in Reading Terminal in 2020. Pies are the star of the menu and Sweet T’s is known for its sweet potato pie with a graham cracker crust — a twist on the recipe Tia learned from her grandmother.
For those with a sweet tooth, The Sweet Life Bakeshop has been a slice of heaven in the City of Brotherly Love since 2010. Its claim to fame is its mouthwatering banana pudding, which has been parlayed into other unique variations like strawberry banana pudding and salted caramel banana pudding. Dessert lovers can also delight in pineapple upside-down cake, peach cobbler and a gamut of cupcakes from sweet potato to cookies and cream.
RESTAURANTS & BARS
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