Black-Owned Chicago Restaurants
When people think of Chicago, they often think of the Cubs, the Willis (Sears) Tower, and Michigan Ave. But when I think of Chicago, the first things that come to mind are diversity and food. The city is truly a melting pot of different cultures and experiences, and the food is just one of the many ways you can experience exactly what I’m talking about. In honor of Black History Month, I wanted to highlight some of my favorite black-owned Chicago restaurants and the amazing people who breathe life into them each and every day.
- Sweet Maple Cafe
Sweet Maple Café owner Laurene Hynson knows a thing or two about breakfast. Located just south of the West Loop, Sweet Maple has been serving up delectable French toast and warm buttermilk biscuits since 1999. Laurene’s passion for cooking and love for her role as a mother is what made opening a brunch spot the perfect choice; not only could she follow her dream, but she could do it while making it home before the kids do. So, using her mother’s recipes and a few she developed herself, Laurene set off into the restaurant world with the goal of serving up delicious food each and every day. And she did that! The food at Sweet Maple Café is everything, but it’s Laurene’s love for the process that makes the entire experience so special and worthwhile.
- Taste 222
In the Fulton River District, just north of Union Station, Taste 222 boasts an intimate dining experience in an upscale, chic, and comfortable space. Specializing in New American cuisine and delicious cocktails, Taste 222’s seasonal menu has everything you’re looking for, from delectable breakfast items to hearty lunch and dinner options. Chili-glazed salmon, braised brisket, and chicken and biscuit sandwiches are just a few of the modern, tasty dishes you can expect from this unique establishment. If you’re in the market for classic flavors with an upscale twist, Taste 222 is the restaurant for you.
- Soul Shack
This Hyde Park gem owned and operated by Rico Nance is one of those places that just screams “soulful cooking”. From fried okra to barbecue short ribs, Soul Shack offers what anyone craving soul food would want. The BYOB, comfortable dine-in environment gives food lovers everywhere a healthy mix of casual and fine dining, with a comforting yet eclectic menu that excites.
- 5 Loaves Eatery
This low-key, family-owned and operated breakfast joint is serving up some delicious, Southern-style comfort food. With a menu packed with classic favorites, like thick pancakes, chicken and waffles, and creamy grits, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. 5 Loaves Eatery owner Constance Simms-Kincaid opened the Chatham restaurant with the intention of introducing something different to the South Chicago neighborhood, and she’s definitely succeeded in that goal! With packed tables and long waits each weekend, 5 Loaves is establishing itself as the place to be for amazing breakfast at a great price.
When Erick Williams, owner and operator of Virtue, opened his chic Southern American joint, he did so with the intention of leading with a culture of hospitality and kindness. While boasting some familiar Southern flavors, like green tomatoes, red beans & rice, and blackened catfish, this Hyde Park eatery boasts a fine dining feel with an eclectic open-kitchen layout that will surely impress. If you’re in the mood for classic dishes with a modern twist, Virtue is the place to be.
When Frontier opened its doors in 2010, the goal for owner Mark Domitrovich and executive chef Brian Jupiter was to help food lovers on their journey from comfortable restaurant routines to the “frontier of culinary adventure.” Whether you’re in the mood for something simple, like chicken wings and burgers, or want to try something new, like braised rabbit and wild boar, Frontier has everything a food-obsessed person could ever want. This unique restaurant nestled in West Town just off Milwaukee Avenue definitely pushes the envelope and redefines what it means to serve “restaurant food”.
While Chicago’s culture can be defined in terms of baseball games, incredible architecture, and upscale shopping, food will always be at the heart of the city’s cultural expression. Break away from your usual restaurant routine and discover new, unique dining experiences that will surely impress you while also supporting and uplifting the Black community. Who knows? Your new favorite restaurant may be on this list!
What’s your favorite black-owned restaurant in the Chicago area?