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One of the few positive things to come out of sheltering in place for the last three months for me has been an expanded repertoire of Chicago restaurants. I’ve always been pretty good about keeping up with the Chicago food and drink scene and trying new restaurants as much as possible, but many restaurants on my list were too expensive, completely booked, or inaccessible without a car. With most restaurants now offering delivery, I’ve been able to try out a lot more restaurants in Chicago.
As the U.S. – and parts of the world – erupted into mostly peaceful yet passionate protests over the last week, a lot of people have been looking for more ways to support the Black community. Whether you’re planning to dine in, take out, or order delivery, you can support these Black-owned restaurants in Chicago today. Please keep in mind that this is by no means a comprehensive list. Rather, it’s meant to serve as a starting point in your quest to support the Black community in Chicago.
With multiple locations all across the city, Harold’s Chicken Shack is a Chicago staple. Harold’s is known for its uniquely prepared chicken and its friendly staff. If you’re not in the mood for chicken, they offer some seafood dishes as well (but really, go there for the chicken!) There is often a line at Harold’s (doesn’t matter which location), but they get the food out quickly so you’re never waiting for long. If you’re not a wait in line kind of person, you can call ahead for take out or delivery as well.
Address: Many, including 612 S. Wabash Ave. (Loop); 124 E. 35th St. (Douglas)
Ina Mae’s Executive Chef, Brian Jupiter, has about as stacked of a resume as you can find. Hailing from New Orleans, Chef Jupiter spent his childhood at his grandmother’s side in the kitchen and started his professional career at age 16. Since then, he’s been creating delicious southern dishes for multiple restaurants that are inspired by his family recipes. In 2019, he became a James Beard Award semifinalist. You can find all of your favorite southern comfort foods at Ina Mae, which is now open for outdoor dining, takeout, and delivery.
Address: 1415 N. Wood St. (Wicker Park)
Luella’s Southern Kitchen is named after the Chef’s great-grandmother, who moved from Mississippi to Chicago in 1943. All of the delicious southern dishes on their menu are inspired by Luella. Their small yet powerful menu features dishes like chicken gumbo, buttermilk fried chicken, shrimp and grits, and salmon croquettes.
Address: 4609 N. Lincoln Ave. (Ravenswood)
Eleven Eleven is a collection of Owner and Chef Ahmed Braimah’s favorite dishes from around the globe. Chef Braimah, who was born and raised in Chicago to Ghanaian immigrants, has turned his restaurant into a neighborhood joint by drawing inspiration from local music, art, and fashion. The diverse menu at Eleven Eleven makes it the perfect place to order out for a group with diverse tastes and even includes several vegan options.
Address: 1111 W. Lake St. (West Loop)
Chef Kristen Ashley first opened Cleo’s Southern Cuisine as a catering business and only recently opened a brick and mortar restaurant in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, where she grew up. During COVID-19, Cleo’s is only open on the weekends (Fri-Sat 12-8pm and Sun 12-6pm) and only accepting telephone pick up orders at 773-633-2757. Cleo’s offers a daily rotating menu, so make sure to check their website for the latest menu before calling. My recommendation is to try the fried chicken, which some have dubbed the best fried chicken in Chicago.
Address: 4248 S. Cottage Grove (Bronzeville)
Batter & Berries is a Chicago brunch staple, especially well-known amongst the french toast lovers out there. Most famous for its french toast flights, Batter & Berries also serves your favorite breakfast, lunch, and brunch dishes, like brisket and portobello hash, chicken and waffles, and much more. There has hardly been a day since Batter & Berries opened in 2012 when there isn’t a long line outside, so take advantage of this time to order delivery or pickup and skip the wait.
Address: 2748 N. Lincoln Ave. (Lakeview); 66 E. Wacker Dr. (Loop)
Despite Turkey Chop’s large and diverse menu, you really can’t go wrong with any item they serve. If you’re in the mood for a burger, their turkey burgers are a great option (and for only $5!); otherwise, order something off the Chef’s Innovation menu and get ready to experience a “party in your mouth,” as many Turkey Chop patrons have described the food there. Not only does Turkey Chop cook up some delicious meals, they also give back to the community by feeding the homeless.
Address: 3506 W. Chicago Ave. (Humboldt Park)
Being an only child has its benefits, and Jonetta, Executive Chef and Owner of Chicago Food on the Run, will tell you all about the benefits of having her parents all to herself. Since she was a young child, she shadowed her parents in the kitchen, learning their secret family recipes like the famous mac n cheese Jonetta now serves at her restaurant. When you eat at Food on the Run, you’ll feel like you’re eating at grandma’s house. Food on the Run is temporarily closed for the safety of its team but will hopefully reopen for pickup and delivery soon.
Address: 8040 S. Ashland Ave. (Auburn Gresham)
Not only has this Black-owned business in Chicago managed to raise $39,000 in the last few months to pay all of its staff while they closed during the shelter-in-place order, they have also managed to raise over $50,000 for Chicago first responders. Despite remaining closed at this time, Virtue does have plans to reopen soon, so make sure you follow their website and Instagram page for updates. In 2019, Virtue’s Owner and Chef Erick Williams was named one of 16 Black chefs changing food in America by the New York Times and one of 22 Chicago chefs, restauranteurs, and food entrepreneurs creating social impact. Chef Williams’ menu consists of modern southern dishes made with heirloom ingredients and a big dose of hospitality and kindness. If you’d like to support Virtue’s efforts to help Chicago first responders during this difficult time, you can donate Instagram page.
Address: 1462 E. 53rd St. (Hyde Park)
Since 2004, Senegalese couple Madieye and Awa Gueye have been sharing their culture and generosity with the Chicago community. Yassa African Restaurant was the first Senegalese restaurant in Chicago and remains one of the only African restaurants in Chicago’s south side today. You can find a wide array of authentic Senegalese dishes here, including fataya, chicken yassa, and the national dish of Senegal, fish and rice.
Address: 3511 S. King Dr. (Bronzeville)
Demera Owner, Tigist Reda, was born and raised in Ethiopia and has lived in Chicago for the last 20+ years. Since its opening in November 2007, Demera has quickly risen to become Chicago’s most well-known Ethiopian restaurant. Today, it is popular and loved for its family style hand eaten meals and authentic Ethiopian traditions. This female, Black-owned business sacrifices none of its tradition with its takeout and delivery meals, offering plenty of options for a full messob to take home and eat with your family. You can also purchase some of the most commonly used spices at Demera from their retail shop to concoct your own Ethiopian flavors at home.
Address: 4801 N. Broadway St. (Uptown)
Taste 222 is the storefront headquarter of Cleveland Avenue, a venture capital firm for food and beverage businesses. Don Thompson, CEO and Founder of Cleveland Avenue, spent 25 years rising up through the ranks at McDonald’s Corporation until becoming its President and CEO from 2012-2015. In 2015, Thompson left McDonald’s to create Cleveland Avenue, which now supports local food and beverage entrepreneurs by allowing them to experiment and showcase their creations at Taste 222. As such, its menu is regularly changing, so you’ll never get bored with dining at Taste 222. The pickup and delivery family meals offered through Taste To Go right now are a must-try. For only $38, you can get a family meal for four, including a main meat entree, salad, two sides, and dessert.
Address: 222 N. Canal St. (West Loop)
Head Cook and Owner, Bridgett Flagg, opened Soulé in 2017 after discovering her talent and love for cooking while cooking for her mom after she became ill. Flagg’s biggest inspirations for her restaurant come from her mother and grandmother, Bea, who was known for cooking huge feasts for her neighborhood and later becoming the Head Cook for Chicago Public Schools. Today, this creole-infused soul food kitchen is the ideal place to gather with loved ones or order a large meal to enjoy in the comfort of your own home.
Address: 1931 W. Chicago Ave. (West Town)
Burgers aren’t on most health nuts’ lists, but as far as burgers go, The Burger Point offers some of the healthiest and freshest burgers. All of the meat they use comes from 100% grass-fed cows and is hormone-free, antibiotic-free, and preservative-free. They also make everything from scratch and ensure customers that nothing is ever frozen. That might mean a slightly longer wait time, but they more than make up for it in the quality and taste of their burgers.
Address: 1900 S. State St. (South Loop)
You cannot claim to be a fry aficionado until you’ve tried Friistyle. Heck, Friistyle even gives Canadian poutine a run for its money (and that’s saying a lot coming from me considering my second home is Toronto)! Friistyle is the only restaurant in Chicago dedicated solely to reimagining Belgian pomme frites. They have managed to dress their fries up in just about anything and everything you can imagine, so you might need to make a few trips there in order to try everything on their menu.
Address: 5059 S. Prairie (Bronzeville)
Owner and Chef Reno opened his first Caribbean Jerk Palace in 2014 and has since expanded to three locations across Chicago. The menu at Caribbean Jerk Palace is inspired by Chef Reno’s grandmother, who cooked Jamaican and American food at home. Today, Chef Reno aims to not only serve up the best jerk chicken in town but also to make all of his patrons feel like they’re part of the family.
Address: 731-733 S. Dearborn St. (Printer’s Row); 3792 W. 79th St. (Ashburn); 10318 S. Halsted St. (Washington Heights)
Also touted as one of the best Caribbean restaurants in Chicago, Garifuna Flava features cuisine from a different Caribbean island: Belize. You’ll find the typical Caribbean dishes here, like jerk chicken, as well as Belizean favorites like the Belizean stew chicken. Make sure you check out the family deals if you’re ordering out. For only $35, you can get two pounds of jerk chicken, three sides, and dessert – enough to feed 4-6 people. You’ll have a hard time finding a better deal than that anywhere!
Address: 131 N. Clinton St. (French Market – West Loop); 2518 W. 63rd St. (Chicago Lawn)
18. Brown Sugar Bakery
Whether you’re craving a cupcake or need a 4-layer cake for a special event, Brown Sugar Bakery has you covered. Its tagline is “dangerously delicious,” and you’ll quickly see why after trying one of their cheesecakes, cupcakes, cookies, pies, or banana pudding (a personal weak spot for me). It’s no mystery why Brown Sugar Bakery has been a neighborhood – and citywide – staple since 2004.
Address: 600 E. Grand Ave. (River North); 328 E. 75th St. (Grand Crossing)
Sweet Maple Cafe started from humble beginnings when its owner, Laurene Hynson, found the abandoned restaurant space just as she was looking for a creative outlet for herself while her two kids were at school. The solution? A breakfast joint that closed at 2pm every day, just in time for Hynson to resume her duties as a parent. Since then, this home cook has served customers from all over her neighborhood – and the world. You won’t want to miss her famous french toast – a recipe she took from her mother.
Address: 1339 W. Taylor St. (Little Italy)
Eméché means “tipsy” in French, so of course, Owner Janell R. has concocted a number of fun and tasty alcohol-infused desserts here. In addition to that, Eméché also offers breakfast items, cupcakes, cheesecakes, cookies, and the famous Desserts in a Jar. Having just opened in Fall 2019, they especially need your support during these difficult times!
Address: 3453 S. Prairie Ave. (Bronzeville)
With over 30 different types of tea to choose from, Tea Pot Brew Bakery is a tea lover’s mecca. If you’re not a tea drinker, Tea Pot can also whip up a mean cup of coffee for you. Don’t forget to pick up a pastry or dessert while you’re at it too – you’ll regret it if you don’t. Tea Pot is temporarily closed during the week, so take advantage of the weekend to offer your support.
Address: 1802 S. Wabash Ave. (South Loop)
Some Like It Black is a creative space for musicians, poets, and other artists to express their art and showcase their talents. You’ll want to check out a show here in person, but for now, you can order a meal kit and drink kit to go. SLIB is currently only open on Tuesdays and Fridays, but if you follow them on Instagram and Facebook, you’ll be notified when they expand their hours and services.
Address: 810 E. 43rd St. (Kenwood/Oakland)
When most people think of soul food, they usually think of hearty, deep fried food that’s probably not the healthiest. Vegan Now! breaks that stereotype by serving soul food that’s 100% vegetarian or vegan. They’ve spent over 30 years perfecting their recipes in order to deliver optimum health benefits without sacrificing taste, and they’ve done a darn good job of it.
Address: 131 N. Clinton St. (French Market – West Loop)
Remember that this list of 23 Black-owned restaurants in Chicago to order from right now is not comprehensive. For a more comprehensive list of Black-owned restaurants in Chicago, check out Black People Eats and download the EatOkra app. I also challenge you to continue conducting your own research and education on racism, police brutality, and how to support the Black community during this difficult time.
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