A Guide to Seattle’s Black-Owned Restaurants

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A Guide to Seattle's Black-Owned Restaurants

Communion’s Kristi Brown. Photography by Amber Fouts.

On the spectrum of ways one might fight embedded racism and systemic injustice, ordering crab quiche or porchetta from one of Seattle’s Black-owned restaurants is a small thing. But it’s immediate, it’s direct, and you can do it over and over again. One tiny upside to 2020: Seattle-area diners made a sustained habit of supporting restaurants and local businesses that reflect our values. Here, an updated list of our favorite Black-owned restaurants across Seattle, and beyond, currently open for takeout or dine-in of the alfresco variety.

North Seattle

JuneBaby

Edouardo Jordan’s weekly takeout menu stays pretty close to JuneBaby’s thoughtful southern rots. It still takes some work to score his Sunday fried chicken dinner…and it’s still worth it. The menu also includes frozen meals, housemade ice cream and flips, cocktails, and pantry staples like pikliz, stock, or frozen biscuits. Ravenna

Mojito

The story of Luam Wersom working his way up from dishwasher to owner at this long-standing Latin American and Cuban restaurant is a great one. The food is just as remarkable. Dishes like vaca frita and pescado en guiso—even the accompanying rice—bear the finesse of 20 years of experience. Oh, and the titular mojitos? Legit. Order delivery online or peruse the menu and call 206-525-3162. Lake City Way

Pam’s Kitchen

Pour out a little rum punch for the shuttered South Lake Union location, then get thee to the location in Wallingford for some goat curry, jerk chicken, aloo pie, and other dishes that express owner Pam Jacob’s Trinidadian roots. If you see her doubles (flatbreads made of curried chickpeas) surface as a special on Instagram, hustle to grab one ASAP. Wallingford

Salare

Edouardo Jordan’s original restaurant remains takeout only, and offers a chance for the chef to get a tad experimental. Every month, a special menu explores one facet of the African diaspora, and the staple menu includes a burger topped with pimento cheese, a reluctant (if delicious) detour from the higher-end food Jordan usually cooks here. Right now the online ordering also includes some pantry staples and a menu that honors Black history month. Ravenna

Central Seattle

Cafe Campagne

Chef Daisley Gordon’s perpetually flawless French restaurant in Pike Place Market remains takeout only for now, including a curbside “drive-thru” pickup option. If you live in the neighborhood, Gordon himself will deliver (by e-bike!) on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Among Gordon’s many professional accomplishments: creating fires that remain crisp in transit. Pike Place Market

Cafe Selam

A thoroughly unassuming storefront on Cherry offers up injera made with care, a lengthy menu that includes breakfast(!), friendly service, and (in normal times) a good-size patio. Right now the restaurant is takeout only; call 206-328-0404 to order. Central District

Central Cafe and Juice Bar

Bridgette Johnson opened her cafe barely a month before the March shutdown, and still managed to make this cheerful spot feel indispensable to the neighborhood. Don’t let the “Juice Bar” part of the name fool you; Central Cafe starts the day with breakfast burritos and espresso (plus juice and smoothies) and rolls on into grilled cheese, layer cake, and happy hour taquitos you can consume on the homey covered patio. Order online. Central District

Communion

From a corner spot in the Liberty Bank Building, chef Kristi Brown has presided over one of the biggest-deal restaurant openings of the year. Her restaurant fuses Southern fare and Asian traditions to reflect her personal purview of Seattle: A banh mi–po’boy hybrid stuffed with fried catfish and swiped with pate, an “ode to pho” that submerges sizzled pork belly or rib tips in broth with greens. Freaking fantastic wings. Order online and mind the signage that shows you where to line up when you arrive (or try to score a heated patio table). Central District

Fat’s Chicken and Waffles

Typically, co-owner Erika White is a warm presence in the dining room; she still manages to project that vibe, even as she dispenses fried chicken and waffles or biscuits and gravy through the orange front door. Fat’s still dishes takeout brunch on weekends, and serves its pimento- and gravy-filled menu starting at 11:30 on other days. Central District

Jerk Shack

Trey Lamont’s Belltown oasis serves a takeout version of its Caribbean menu (the jerk fried chicken and jerk ribs offer an excellent starting point) for pickup Monday through Friday from 4–9pm. Call in your order at 206-441-7817. (And read up on Lamont’s plans to battle inequity and create opportunities among Black communities with future Jerk Shack projects.) Belltown

Joyce’s Market and Cafe

Every neighborhood wishes they had a spot like Joyce Hosea’s market on Union. A counter that can whip you up a charcuterie plate, or sell you a tub of housemade posole or pot roast or pimento cheese. Hosea does all her own butchering, and ensures the café counter on the other side of the market puts out a menu of sandwiches, salads, and happy hour snacks that’s far broader than you might expect. Central District

Marjorie

Donna Moodie might be busy as executive director of the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict (not to mention the marvelous plantain chips available at area retailers), but she still runs one of the neighborhood’s most charming restaurants, complete with covered patio and a yen for music on vinyl. Not to mention a versatile takeout menu that might include crab cakes, jerked chicken, burrata, and Moodie’s namesake margarita. The restaurant also does a to-go tasting menu to go. Capitol Hill

Meskel

A star among Cherry Street’s cluster of great Ethiopian spots for more than a quarter of a century, this converted house now does a steady stream of takeout; owner Belaynesh Chera might have an equal fan base for both her veggie combo and meat dishes. Cash only; call 206-860-1724 to order. Central District

Osteria La Spiga

Capitol Hill’s restaurant scene changes by the minute, but chef Sabrina Tinsley’s northern Italian menu is a comforting constant on 12th Avenue (ditto that gorgeous space, when dine-in resumes). Right now the kitchen assembles reheat-friendly dinner kits, plus an a la carte menu of gorgeous pastas like the tagliatelle coated in truffle butter. A series of transparent “igloos” on a sheltered deck offer novelty, and protection from the elements. Order online for takeout. Capitol Hill

Plum Bistro and Plum Chopped

Makini Howell is a vegan phenom, as evidenced by the brunch, lunch, dinner, and dessert menus at her Capitol Hill original, now equipped with streetside patio pods. An online takeout menu also offers family meals, homespun sweets, and an all-day menu that ranges from faux reubens to oyster mushroom calamari. Meanwhile her adjacent salad restaurant, Plum Chopped, puts Evergreens to shame. Capitol Hill

Simply Soulful

A bastion of family-recipe soul food hides like a reward in the rear of a nondescript parking lot. Mother-daughter owners Barbara Collins and Lillian Rambus make buttermilk and corn bread waffles, shrimp and grits, or just a simple breakfast with grits or home fries. The food is marvelous, but the most distinguishing quality of Simply Soulful might be its regulars, the sort of enthusiasts who won’t hesitate to extol (rightly) the biscuit and sweet potato pie to uninitiated diners. Call 206-474-9841 to order takeout. Madison Valley

Taste of the Caribbean

Inside this unexpectedly roomy Jamaican restaurant and lounge, set back from Jefferson Street like a secret, owners Carlene Comrie and Dwayne Blake ply Seattle’s decidedly non-Caribbean environs with big, bold flavors. An order of fiery-tender jerk wings, chicken or goat or shrimp in a bright curry, or the classic beef patty (a pastry with seasoned meat), and tender plantains packs serious transportive powers, even when it comes in a takeout clamshell. The restaurant will highlight a different dish every Friday for Black History Month. Central District

South Seattle

Baked from the Hart

Okay, technically Bill Hart’s converted home at the crossroads of Rainier and Martin Luther King, Jr. Way is a bakery, not a restaurant. But who’s going to quibble when we’re talking about peach cobbler, pecan, sweet potato, or multiple varieties of custardy chess pie? Order individual-size tarts or four- and nine-inch pies online, or head inside and ask for whatever just came out of the oven. Mount Baker

Catfish Corner Express

Terrell Jackson headed south to Skyway to carry on the legend of Catfish Corner, the landmark restaurant his parents ran in the Central District for nearly 30 years. Now a streamlined version dishes out fried catfish and hush puppies and an Obama-inspired burger for takeout. Order online. Skyway

The Comfort Zone

The pandemic has silenced the stage at the Royal Esquire Club, but a fantastic soul food restaurant hides inside its kitchen. Mother-daughter owners Talya Miller and LaShon Lewis dish up soothing fare like shrimp and grits, fried pork chops, decadent mac and cheese, and a great meatloaf sandwich. Yes, the strawberry lemonade is as good as everyone says. The website is under construction, but Facebook has a recent menu;  and call 206-246-2800 for takeout or use the delivery apps. Columbia City

Emerald City Fish and Chips

At Stevie Allen’s friendly 11-year-old counter, Alaskan cod remains delicate beneath its crispy fried shell. Fries are gently seasoned, the crab puppies downright transcendent, and if it’s a Monday or Tuesday, don’t sleep on the special gumbo, packed with seafood. Nothing here is fancy, and it’s all prepped with care…and sans gluten. Order online. Mount Baker

Emma’s BBQ

Owner Tess Thomas pays tribute to her mother (and her recipes) at this no-nonsense spot where family lore lines the walls. The barbecue menu’s about as classic as it gets, but little touches like chopped brisket in the greens (and an admirable smoke ring on the brisket) turn familiar dishes into something memorable. If Thanksgiving happened in the summertime, it would taste like Emma’s sweet potato pie. Hillman City

Island Soul Rum Bar and Soul Shack

Theo Martin’s dad opened a soul food restaurant in 1978 that eventually migrated from Judkins Park to Columbia City; along the way, Martin brought in Jamaican-born chef Bobby Laing to perfect that balance of oxtail stew and jerk chicken—or gumbo and tostones, fried green plantains smothered in garlic and red onions. The coconut corn muffins will win over self-proclaimed coconut haters, and homespun desserts like 7-Up pound cake are absolutely worth an order—provided they didn’t sell out already. Island Soul is the sort of restaurant to which nearby residents pledge lifelong allegiance, but also merits a drive across town. It’s also, impressively a third-generation business; Martin’s son Bryce, a culinary school grad, runs the day to day and daughter Caitlyn handles the books. This past year added online ordering and a gaily streetside tent. Columbia City.

King Philly

Owner Teddy Graham must perform some sort of grill sorcery to inject the taste of onions and peppers into the very essence of that finely chopped beef. By the time his hefty cheesesteaks make their way into your hands, the meat juice and cheese sauce have fused into a sort of comfort food superflavor. King Philly’s on most of the delivery apps, but maybe consider calling 206-722-2434 to order directly. Rainier Valley 

Lil Red’s Takeout and Catering

Really, this is two spectacular restaurants in one: Erasto Jackson’s menu combines barbecue, soul food, and Jamaican culinary traditions. This means flawless brisket and jerk spareribs mingle with curry goat and mac and cheese with a kick. Meanwhile, Terrell Woods (aka Chef T) runs a popup of sorts during breakfast and lunch, dishing up shrimp and grits and one of the town’s unforgettable burgers. Columbia City

Mama Sambusa Kitchen

Somalia-born Marian Ahmed (yes, she’s Mama Sambusa) serves her native street food, including the titular savory pastries, as well as sandwiches, salads, and pasta. Dishes bear the names of family members, and the assurance that the entire menu is halal. Desserts are unexpected and fun and, wow, the kitchen will fry up those samosas until 4am. Rainier Valley

Umami Kushi

After years of selling his okazu pan (Japanese-style fried buns stuffed with curry or creative liberties like salmon, lentils, or barbecue pork) via local coffee shops, Harold Fields now takes direct online orders from his kitchen in Rainier Beach. Submit advance orders for pickup—preferably on a Saturday so you can also score some weekend-only beignets, dusted with spiced powdered sugar. (Related: Fields also makes a kosho that ranks among Seattle’s best local condiments.) Rainier Beach

West Seattle

Jones Barbeque

The former chainlet has settled into a single location with a ton of great lunch specials plus a vast and versatile lineup (combo meals! meat by the pound!), all liberally doused in a house sauce more tangy than sweet—no wonder Jones sells it by the enormous jar. Ribs and brisket are more homestyle than high-concept, and the corn bread is as indulgent as any dessert (though that’s no reason to skip the pie). Order online for delivery or call 206-739-6169 for takeout. Fauntleroy

Outside Seattle

Carolina Smoke BBQ

Despite the name of his Bothell restaurant, David Hayward isn’t beholden to a particular style—the South Carolina native cultivates his own brand of barbecue, smoking brisket and pulled pork over a variety of woods and making his own sauces. Order online for takeout. Bothell

Gravy

In the Before Times, co-owner and executive chef Dre Neeley became a Vashon Island favorite for a menu that cross-referenced European and Northwest cuisine, with ample dashes of the American South. Over this past extraordinary year, he has flexed those various sensibilities in the form of takeout popups, focusing on everything from porchetta to fried chicken to breakfast for dinner. Keep an eye on Instagram for upcoming menus. Vashon Island

Métier Brewing Co.

Washington’s first Black-owned brewery pours brews like its Grandma’s Hands ginger molasses stout at various bars and restaurants, but head straight to the Woodinville taproom to drink a pint on the heated patio and avail yourself of the rotating food trucks. Cans of Black Stripe or Trail Blazer pale ale also surface at local stores like PCC. Woodinville

Peyrassol Café at Southport

Co-owner Sachia Tinsley helped open her sister’s beloved Italian spot, Osteria La Spiga, on Capitol Hill, so it’s no surprise the menu  at her cafe embraces European fare like fresh pastas (lasagna with ragu, tagliatelle with forest mushroom cream sauce), crispy polenta cakes, and beef bourguignon. Order online for takeout, including pantry items and cocktails. Renton

Multiple Locations

Ezell’s Famous Chicken

Seattle’s most famous chicken shack began in 1984 as a counter across the street from Garfield High School; now more than a dozen locations across Washington dispense original, spicy, and half-and-half combos. Seattle-area locations have set up online ordering for takeout and delivery. Various

Heaven Sent Fried Chicken

Ezell Stephens (yes, that Ezell) went on to found this duo of fried chicken shops, whose crispy, well-seasoned wings and thighs remind you why this man is a legend in the first place. Takeout options range from snack-size combos to family-style spreads, and the Everett location does gluten-free bird, if you call ahead. Everett, Lake City

Pinckney Cookie Cafe

Decadent cookies (including vegan and gluten free creations) based in Kirkland, but shipped nationwide. You can also find them at some Seattle-area farmers markets.

SoSo Good

A picture of an alien adorns the side of this food truck, a tribute to co-owner Brandon Terry’s Roswell hometown. Flavors from New Mexico rule a menu full of green chile stew, frito pie, and smothered posole burritos. Check Facebook for whereabouts.

Where Ya At Matt

Matthew Lewis’s mobile ode to his native New Orleans arrived in the early days of Seattle’s food trucks and remains one of our best. Check Facebook for current locations and menu; right now you can text orders in advance.