How to Support Black-Owned Food Businesses (Part 2)

Chick’n & fries from Sweet Chick

Three years ago, I wrote about how to support black-owned businesses, where I covered why it is important, how to find them, and 5 favorites to get started. Given that it’s Black History Month, it’s a good time to remember that we all can be intentional with how we spend our money (year-round, by the way) and that you might find new foods that you love in the process.

Sometimes vegetarians and vegans can be excluded from global cuisines, especially those that are meat-centric, but my entire mission is to prove that you don’t have to eat meat to eat globally. And lucky for me, the world agrees! The diversity of foods and creators is constantly growing, and now you ca sample a wide range of cuisines – soul food, Caribbean, Southern, West Africa, Ethiopian…you get the idea. And even within that, there are restaurants and blogs that have good vegan and vegetarian options. So today, we’ll do a refresh on how to sample global cuisine from businesses that are Black-owned and veg-friendly.

Is it still important to support Black-owned businesses?

Yes. Since the last post I wrote on the topic 3 years ago, there’s more to try than ever before! Black businesses were hit hard at the beginning of the pandemic, but this was followed by a boom in Black entrepreneurship. In 2021, “there were more Black-owned businesses proportionate to the total population than at any time in the last 25 years” (source). This means there are increasingly more Black-owned businesses for all of us to try.

I’m not saying that we’ve narrowed the inequality gap – it’s probably too soon for that data (I couldn’t find any)- but with more to try than ever before, and momentum in this direction…why wouldn’t you go try something new?

How to Find Black-Owned Businesses

Wondering where to start? Google it. Use the Eat Okra app or website. Look for a list – there are so many, like Oprah’s list, Time Out New York, Thrillist, and others. Use this blog! It’s not hard, the information is out there if you look.

And if you can’t find anything in your area, you can still support by ordering products online or with views and engagement on social media and blogs. Check out the following creators who are highlighting global foods and veganism:

  • The Canadian African / Eat with Afia – For pan-African vegan food and an education in African cooking (especially Ghanian and West Africa). I’ve learned so much about African food by watching her.
  • Vegan Black Food – highlights all vegan recipes made by different Black creators. The recipes look soooo good!
  • Plant Crazii – Another Black vegan creator, and I definitely sense a Caribbean influence in a lot of his dishes
  • Sweet Potato Soul– American food, with an emphasis on Southern cooking
  • Jessica in the Kitchen – 600+ easy vegan recipes!

Aside from being amazing creators, the folks about are also my inspiration because they have made it in this crazy blogging, social media, internet where building your own business and making money from your blog is not as easy as it sounds.

Six (More) Favorite Black-Owned Businesses in NYC

Sweet Chick: With 5 locations in NYC and one in LA, they claim to serve the best chicken and waffles in the world. Their menu focuses in on this speciality with several flavor options, but my favorite part is vegetarians can get in on the fun because they offer vegetarian “chick’n” as an option for any of their salad, sandwich, or waffle combos. Plus the Long Island City location delivers to my apartment!

Fried chick’n salad

Urban Vegan Kitchen: This West Village restaurant is 100% vegan with lots of soul food classics like mac & cheese, chick’n and waffles, burgers, quesadillas, etc. Not only is it Black, woman, and Latino-owned (and delicious), but they also feed plant-based meals to people in need through their Support + Feed program.

Harlem Hops: This was Harlem’s first 100% African-American owned craft beer bar, focused on working with small batch, local breweries and especially brewers of color. If you like beer, this is a great place to check out for their selection. Aside from serving great drinks, the owners wanted to highlight the importance of African history and beer history. Africa has the world’s earliest recorded history of beer-making, and enslaved Africans brought with them knowledge of diverse brewing techniques. More beer history can be found on their website, or swing by the bar for a draft!

A&A Bake & Doubles: When I lived in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn, this hole-in-the-wall had a line out the door every. single. day. I always wanted to stop in, but I never left enough time in my commute to account for the long line. I was in the neighborhood recently and, luckily, in the afternoon when things had calmed down a bit and I finally realized what all the fuss was about. Doubles is a street food from Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean, consisting of a fried flat dough filled with curried chickpeas, and is most often eaten for breakfast. Not only is it delicious, but it’s $1.50 for one. If you’re in the neighborhood, definitely stop by.

A Trinidadian “doubles” – not from A&A Bake Shop, but this is incredibly similar to what they serve. Doesn’t it look good? Photo courtesy of Edmund Gall (license, no changes)

Literally Lit Cafe: Speaking of Bed-Stuy, if you’re walking down Tomkins Avenue on the weekend you might just run into Literally Lit Cafe setting up a table in the street and selling mason jars of different color juices. The owner was so friendly and the juices looked so good that all four of my friends and I bought one and I have to say it was as tasty as it looked. The many flavors include hibiscus, pineapple ginger, peanut punch, soursop, and seamoss, which has health benefits. She posts on Instagram where she’s selling juice, so follow her if you want some!

Awash Ethiopian Restaurant: If you’ve been following me for any period of time, you’ll know that I love Ethiopian food. And although there are many Ethiopian restaurants in NYC, Awash might be my favorite simply because I’ve always had a good experience there. Since their opening in 1994, they’ve expanded to three locations in Cobble Hill (Brooklyn), East Village, and Manhattan Valley (both in Manhattan). Pick the one that’s closest to you, go visit, and enjoy a veggie platter.

An example of the Ethiopian food you’ll find at Awash

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