How to Celebrate Black Restaurant Week in the Bay Area
From Italian soul food to Afro-Latin and Jamaican cuisines.
Photo courtesy of El Nuevo Frutilandia
Black Restaurant Week co-founders Warren Luckett, Falayn Ferrell and Derek Robinson wanted to make black-owned restaurants more accessible to diners, while helping these restaurants expand their customer base and remain profitable in an industry where they are. often overlooked. They founded Black Restaurant Week in 2016, to create a national event that would celebrate African American, African and Caribbean flavors, and more recently the trio launched Feed the Soul Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to helping entrepreneurs. and black culinary businesses. Since its inception, Black Restaurant Week has supported nearly 700 restaurants by shining the spotlight on small businesses that often don’t have a lot of marketing budget and are often left behind for loans.
The Bay Area Black Restaurant Week runs from Friday August 20 to Sunday August 29 with over 35 participating restaurants, many of which will have special menus and other offerings in the hopes that you will discover dishes you love and come back for more. At a time when so many restaurants are still struggling, an event like this can make a big difference, especially when it has the support and participation of the community.
You can find a list of all participating restaurants here. It’s also a good idea to follow Black Restaurant Week’s Instagram, as this is where you’ll find most of the promotions updates and other cool stuff that you don’t want to miss. By all means, try to visit as many of these culinary establishments as possible, but if you’re looking for suggestions, here are a few black-owned dining venues participating in the celebration we’ll be supporting this week.
SoMa / South Beach
Simileoluwa “Simi” Adebajo, the chef and owner of the only Nigerian restaurant in SF, isn’t giving up. In the summer of 2020, she transformed her restaurant from an on-site dining experience to a delivery and take-out model in order to save her business during the pandemic. Just days after moving to a kitchen in the Mission’s commissary, a five-alarm fire destroyed everything. A week later, she was back in a new space making authentic Nigerian comfort food like jollof rice with grilled chicken and roasted pepper sauce, vegan coconut porridge with fried plantains and donuts. puff pastry (Nigerian donut holes with cinnamon sugar). Right now you can order from the Lagos inspired menu from Friday to Sunday. This is because, on other days, Adebajo helps provide meals to the homeless and the elderly.
A food truck visits various locations around the bay
Ronnishia Johnson and Rheema Calloway started cooking vegan soul food to fight food injustice and social inequalities. They recognized the lack of access to nutrition education and healthy food in many communities of color and how this directly affects overall health. In order to show people that healthy food can be delicious and comforting, they started The Vegan Hoodchefs, which is a catering business, as well as a food truck that runs at the Chase Center and a few other places (check out their Instagram for more) to hand out loaded jackfruit nachos, po’boys, Cajun crisps, a peach fried donut, and more.
When Kingston 11 chef and owner Nigel Jones was growing up in Kingston, Jamaica, he spent a lot of time in the kitchen with his grandmother (“Miss Gwen”) learning about local ingredients and balancing flavors. Today you can sample its bold, aromatic flavors at its bustling restaurant (especially in times of non-COVID) known in the community for not just being a destination for healthy versions of Jamaican fare, like the jerk chicken, oxtail stew and goat cheese curry, but for being a welcoming place where everyone is greeted with a genuine and friendly smile. The restaurant is also home to Oakland’s largest selection of rums, has plenty of vegan options, and has a charming patio that’s the perfect spot for Saturday brunch with bottomless mimosas.
If you are looking for legitimate Cajun and Creole cuisine in SF this is the place. Best of all, Chef / Owner Eva Morris prepares everything ‘with love’, which involves making sure everything is produced and produced in a sustainable manner, from delivery containers to seafood, so it’s not just foods that taste good, but foods that feel good. You’ll find plenty of classics, including fried oyster and fried catfish po’boys, shrimp and oatmeal, kidney beans and rice, as well as dishes with a California twist, like a Cajun burger and a “Soularito”, which is what you imagine: a huge burrito stuffed with Cajun goodness. The funny names make ordering even more fun: “Hush Yo Mouth” plate (fried oysters, hush puppies, VooSlaw and Cajun fries), “Dat Fuqin Seafood Roll” (lobster, shrimp and lettuce in an aioli roll. buttered garlic with fries), “Hella Saucy Cajun Fries” and even a “Rich Girl Sando” (fried shrimp, sautéed shrimp or salmon on a grilled torpedo roll with remoulade, tomatoes, red cabbage and lettuce). Don’t sleep (too much) during brunch, the only time you can get chicken and waffles, lobster shrimp porridge, and ‘Hoodoo’ seafood porridge.
This chic tropical living room Excellent chef Former Nelson German became an instant destination for people looking for creative cocktails and Afro-Latino-inspired bites when it opened in March 2020. You can experience the next chapter of the story yourself, but today Sobre Mesa is once again open and prosperous. It’s not as busy as opening week, but the indoor and outdoor spaces are always filled with people enjoying special cocktails like a passion fruit paloma (which you can also get by the pitcher), empanadas. with cheese, roasted and stuffed plantains, and more specialty cocktails because who among us couldn’t use a Zombie Reviver (absinthe spritz, gin, overproof rum washed with coconut oil, sherry cream, liqueur orange, passion fruit, lemon, lime) at that time?
Music and dancing on the patio, art lining the walls, old-fashioned arcade games, open comedy mics, local artists and vendors, quizzes, booze slushies and all kinds of comfort food (lumpia, loaded sisig fries, Filipino fried chicken, fish tacos) – what more could you ask for at a restaurant / bar / community gathering space? Owned by a group of Oakland residents, 7th West celebrates neighborhood and community, as well as inclusion and diversity. At a time when the Bay Area neighborhoods change rapidly, the residents of 7th West are preserving what already makes West Oakland great.
When you think of soul food, you probably don’t also think of Italian cuisine, but that’s exactly what Rome’s Kitchen chef and owner, Rome Rogers is. Southern Italian fashionable okra crab, spicy black garlic seafood, and grilled garlic butter oysters all appear on the rotating menu, but there’s no brick. and mortar, so you’ll need to check out Rome Kitchen’s Instagram to find out where it’s popping up next. (Speakeasy Brewery and Bayview Bistro Food Truck Park are two of its busiest spots.)
This Cuban and Puerto Rican family-run restaurant has been serving up San Franciscan home-style comfort food since 1974. Empanadas, ceviche, chili relleno, and pastel plato are all favorites, but the dish that impressed Guy Fieri the most was the ropa. vieja, a Cuban favorite. which consists of grated flank steak simmered in Cuban seasonings, tomatoes and peppers. There is not much to the operation, but the ingredients are local and of high quality, and it is clear that everything is cooked with care.
Chef Dom Sims grew up in Berkeley (passing through Mexico and the often overlooked Trinidad Alps in northern California) helping his mother, a food vendor, at street fairs and festivals. This inspired his work ethic and passion, both of which are evident in his latest business, Cali Alley, a “artisan food window” (down an alleyway, hence the name) where you can get waffles, a double-baked truffled potato. , loco moto, fried chicken and a very popular burger with homemade minced beef brisket and short ribs which are then mixed with chopped chuck and topped with anything from pastrami and swiss to seared pork belly and a fried egg. Sims opened the window during COVID when his restaurant business (California Rose) was in trouble, but her success means it’s not going anywhere, even when the restaurant business is back in full swing.
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