Visit Houston for fun and stay for the food. Chefs and restaurateurs are blowing up on the burgeoning Black food scene as they create amazing cuisine at inventive eateries all over town. From opportunities to try food from a variety of vendors to spots that specialize in everything from BBQ to others that fuse flavors from an assortment of cultures, here are a few places for you to visit with an empty stomach next time you’re in H-Town.
Kulture — Downtown
Modern-day food warrior chef Keisha Griggs of Bocage Catering and Ate Kitchen and Houston restaurateur Marcus Davis have created Black Chef Table, a chef-driven dinner series. These events take place at Kulture, an urban comfort kitchen in Downtown Houston. The unique gastronomic pop-ups feature Houston’s finest Black culinary artists who source their ingredients from local African American food vendors. Chefs make use of produce like Georgia collard greens and green velvet okra from purveyors including Ivy Leaf Farms run by Ivy Walls.
Our Picks: Dishes by featured chefs: 1. Chef Michelle Wallace – Smoked clams in spicy ‘nduja broth 2. Chef Reginald Scott – Smoked beef cheek, peanut butter suya w/crispy fried white yam and puffed beef tendon, 3. Chef Fikisha Harrison – Vegan ginger coconut marinated beet tartare crushed avocado and crispy beet greens.
CHÒPNBLOK — Downtown
Head downtown to POST Houston, an expansive food market in the former (and gigantic) Barbara Jordan Post Office, which has a very popular rooftop park. Proceed directly to Nigerian chef Ope Amosu’s scrumptious cafe to dine on cuisine from the motherland: fish, fowl, meats, grains, fruits and vegetables prepared via West African culinary traditions. Sub-Saharan decor, uplifting Afrobeat music and free samples greet you and provide a beguiling bridge between HTX and Africa. After your meal, stop at Lucy Pearl’s for banana pudding cake or the Return To Sender Bar for a beer.
Our Picks: 1. Greens + Tings Pairing Bowl (Liberian-style braised collards and kale in rice, ripe stewed plantains and grilled Ghanaian-style ginger marinated steak). 2. Sip on Oga Palmer (African hibiscus tea/fresh lemonade). 3. Walk away with a bag of Ajebutter Pops (gourmet glazed popcorn).
Dandelion Cafe — Bellaire
Drive eight miles southwest of Houston to the affluent suburban town of Bellaire, then pull up a chair at this bustling cafe that serves breakfast all day. Liberian transplant and chef/co-owner JC Ricks supervises a staff that makes their own maple sausage and even the buttermilk for their buttermilk pancakes. Most items are made from scratch or sourced from local farmers and that freshness attracts a faithful crowd. Back in the day, Houston’s Black restaurants were predominantly in Black neighborhoods. These days chefs like Ricks are running outposts all over the metro area. They’re spreading the love.
Our Picks: 1. Percolator smoothie (banana, cocoa, espresso, honey and peanut butter). 2. Pomegranate orange mimosa. 3. Buttermilk pancakes topped with blueberries and syrup.
James Beard Award-Worthy Restaurants
Lucille’s — Museum District
It’s very swank. From the outside it looks like a trendy L.A. restaurant, but inside the interior is homey. James Beard Award finalist chef Chris Williams created this homage to his great grandmother Lucille B. Smith’s fine cooking. Dining indoors or outdoors under the sun or moon is a dream. Historic photos of the family matriarch conversing with dignitaries like Martin Luther King, Jr. line the walls. Fashionably dressed customers dig into Southern cuisine with infusions of international techniques that replicate some of Lucille’s most famous recipes with a global flare.
Our Picks: 1. Drink Woke Punch (vodka, lemonade, strawberry purée, serrano peppers). 2. Munch on seared scallops with applewood smoked bacon and grit cakes. 3. Don’t leave ‘til the sweet/tart lemon meringue pie is served.
Davis Street at Hermann Park — Hermann Park
Food bloggers and those with sophisticated palettes flock to chef Mark Holley’s classy eatery. As a noted chef for more than 40 years who’s cooked at the esteemed James Beard House in New York, he commands that respect. Elegant furniture and the interior design complement the upscale fare, which is a delicate mix of Southern, Asian, Latin and Creole flavors. Kevin Jackson, manager/sommelier, helps patrons pair exquisite wines with each course. Dinner is an event, an exploration where Holley’s nurturing spirit and the luxurious atmosphere envelop you.
Our Picks: 1. Cuddle up to the Penthouse View Cocktail (cucumber-infused vodka, pear syrup, lemon juice and Topo Chico) 2. Begin with Boutte’s Gumbo (cherish the fried oysters). 3. Share a Thai Style Snapper for Two entree. 4. Pair the Velvety Key Lime Cheesecake with Domaine Papin Coteaux du Layon dessert wine.
Foodie Barr — Houston Heights
They started with a food truck, but when customers clamored for more, husband and wife team Charles and Silver Barr opened their namesake restaurant in the historic Houston Heights district. If Silver isn’t in the kitchen, her aunt is and the Cajun, Creole and soul foods they serve are tasty and distinctive. Beignets are a house specialty. Perfect seasoning and delicate breading precede the frying or grilling of fish, chicken, pork and beef that’s so flavorful you’ll beg them for their secret recipes.
Our Picks: 1. Shrimp and lobster beignet. 2. Fried ribs, fried Cajun alligator or the seafood platter. 3. Glazed beignet with hot foodie cream and powdered sugar.
Ray’s BBQ Shack — Third Ward
They’re a family full of soul. Former sheriff’s department employee Rayford “Ray” S. Busch and former bank VP Maxine Davis were high school friends who decided to open their iconic barbecue, Cajun and soul food restaurant together. He’s the famous pitmaster, she runs the business and Davis’s son Herb Taylor is the co-owner and marketing exec who gets the word out. The spot offers a very unpretentious, informal dining experience—the kind that locals love. In fact, this community-minded BBQ center has even provided free meals to furloughed government workers.
Our Picks: 1. Try the baked potatoes with brisket, a house forte. 2. Dig into flavorful smoked oxtails. 3. Don’t turn down the town’s best peach cobbler.
Discover Almeda Road
We’re reappropriating! Black entrepreneurs are buying up buildings formerly owned by whites who had bought them from Blacks on Almeda Road. Come ‘round, see blackness in action and have a good time. According to BlackRestaurantWeeks.com, “In Almeda, Sunday Funday draws big crowds.”
Stop by Houston’s most playful, badass lounge, Bar 5015. Toke on hookahs, cozy up to exotic drinks like the Sweet Life Cocktail (Ketel One Botanical Grapefruit Rose vodka and strawberry puree) and nibble on crawfish as you party to the sounds of a DJ or performance.
Hop over to the very popular Turkey Leg Hut for the tender Florentine turkey leg topped with jumbo shrimp. Vegan eaters unite at the Houston Sauce Pit vegan food truck over the chopped “veef” sammich basket.
Owner Orgena Keener makes delicious caramel macchiatos and breakfast croissants at her very friendly Kaffeine Coffee Internet & Office Cafe. Lean into the Caribbean flair at Reggae Hut and choose between the brown stew, curry or jerk chicken.
Drive your fast car, put on your walking shoes, bring your appetite and visit Houston’s Black restaurant scene. To check out these newer spots to visit, and for a longer list of Houston’s best and brightest places and spaces, let BlackRestaurantWeeks.com and its founders Warren Luckett, Falyn Ferrell and Derek Robinson guide you.