Travel Responsibly: As the region recovers from COVID-19, safety guidelines have evolved at attractions, restaurants, shops and hotels. Advance tickets or reservations remain recommended or necessary at many spots. Your best bet: Check online or call ahead.
Philadelphia is rich in Black culture, heritage and history. That tradition carries on in Philly’s wide array of Black-owned and -operated restaurants, coffee shops and bars across dynamic neighborhoods that travel experts love.
Seeking comics with a cold brew? Check out Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse. How about stellar Southern food? Head to SOUTH Kitchen and Jazz Bar. Craving a dessert to top it all off? Look no further than Denise’s.
Note that dining in Greater Philadelphia is a little different at the moment. Most restaurants are open. Some are offering indoor and/or outdoor seating with safety guidelines in place, while others are doing takeout, pickup or delivery only. The City of Philadelphia requires proof of vaccination or mask-wearing at all indoor public spaces. Your best bet: Check online or call ahead to see what to expect.
Ordering delivery? It’s easy to support Black-owned businesses through the Black and Mobile app or Bloc Delivery — two Philadelphia-based startups with Black founders supporting local restaurants.
Below, check out just some of the standout Black-owned restaurants in Philadelphia (and find even more on this guide). There are so many more, too, so consider this list a good place to start exploring the restaurants that represent the diversity of Philly’s Black communities.
Carl Lewis, Sr. owns this beloved West Philly destination that serves soul, Caribbean and American cuisines with a soulful, Cajun twist at low prices. On the menu: healthy portions of their signature Island Wings, New Orleans-style blackened salmon and Rasta Pasta.
Where: 48th Street Grille, 310 S. 48th Street
Aksum Cafe — owned by John Neufvilles — is a Mediterranean, Afro-centric bring-your-own-bottle (BYOB) spot on Baltimore Avenue that serves great vegetable tajines, Lebanese lemon chicken and shrimp, and Greek lamb chops, along with weekend brunches of sweet corn griddlecakes, Turkish scrambled eggs and Monte Cristo sandwiches.
Where: Aksum Cafe, 4630 Baltimore Avenue
On the menu at this raw food/vegan café owned and run by the mother/daughter duo of Nyeisha Cabiness and Beverly Nedley: nut burgers, quinoa salads, chickpea chili and more.
Where: All the Way Live Cafe - Germantown, 6108 Germantown Avenue
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All The Way Live Cafe - Chestnut Hill, 8419 Germantown Avenue
Philly chef and pit master Craig Martin owns this barbecue joint near the city’s Callowhill neighborhood. Stop by for the shop’s juicy beef and pork rib slabs, delicious beef brisket sandwiches and sides like bourbon baked beans and mac and cheese.
Where: Angry Deekin BBQ, 1019 Spring Garden Street
Atiya Ola serves vegetarian, vegan and raw dishes meant to help customers tap into their spirituality. Stir-fries, salads, wraps and veggie bowls are packed with healthy, natural ingredients at this West Philly spot.
Where: Atiya Ola's Spirit First Foods, 310 S. 48th Street
International sliders (including of the Impossible burger variety) and fries star on the menu of one of The Bourse’s popular food-hall operations, run by a Haiti-born chef (Sylva Senat) and art and design tech entrepreneur (Uri Pierre-Noel).
Where: Baby Buns, 111 S. Independence Mall East
Owners Tank and Nicole Barkley serve up heaping platters of soul food and barbecue — hickory-smoked, sauce-slathered ribs; apple-studded yams; five-cheese mac; garlicky collards; grandma’s recipe potato salad; fried fresh fish; green beans and, on occasion, pig’s trotters — draw a crowd to this North Philly spot.
Where: Barkley's BBQ, 2017 N. 29th Street
Firecracker salmon is one of the inventive eggrolls that The Better Box crew dishes out at its three Philly locations as part of their “Asian fusion with a Philly twist” menu. The signature black takeout boxes also hold things like a General Tso’s chicken cheesesteak and sweet potato cheesecake.
Where: The Better Box, 8601 Frankford Avenue
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The Better Box, 1519 Spring Garden Street
The Better Box, 2008 Tyson Avenue
Named after Booker Wright, a server who risked and later lost his life for voicing what it was like to be a Black waiter in the 1960s in an all-white restaurant in Mississippi, this West Philly destination owned by Saba Tedla draws families and more with Southern-inspired cuisine, weekend brunch and great drinks.
Where: Booker's Restaurant & Bar, 5021 Baltimore Avenue
This charming Brewerytown soul food eatery got its name because their food is so good, it melts in your mouth. Fried wings and sides sell out fast; home-baked cakes and pies come directly from owner Kevin Bell’s mother’s oven.
Where: Butter's Soul Food to Go, 2730 W. Girard Avenue
Find jerk chicken, reggae and jazz at Caribbean Feast Restaurant in the heart of North Philadelphia. As seen on The Cooking Channel’s Road Trip with G. Garvin, this Jamaican spot serves up oxtail, goat and plenty of seafood, as well as homemade juices. Once a year, the restaurant hosts a family day event that provides 250 free meals to neighbors.
Where: Caribbean Feast Restaurant, 1338 Rising Sun Avenue
Griot (pork shoulder) and diri (rice) dishes top the menu at this Haitian and West Indian treasure where regulars love the fried plantains. Also a rave: the huge portions at reasonable prices.
Where: Chez Rosaire Haitian & West Indian Food, 121 W. Tabor Road
Sierra Georgia and Galen Thomas — she’s a graduate of Bologna Italy’s Carpigiani Gelato University; he’s a whiz with CBD infusions — team up to serve dairy or vegan, CBD-infused (or not) gelato in flavors that include white coffee, passion fruit, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and brown sugar Pop-Tart. They’re now the dessert portion of Fishtown’s Pizza Brain.
Where: Cloud Cups, 2311 Frankford Avenue
With an Instagram following way bigger than her North Philly restaurant can hold (almost 400,000!), owner Saudia “Saud” Shuler draws customers for jerk chicken, Buffalo shrimp, mac and cheese, fried fish, banana pudding, oxtail — and plenty of personality.
Where: Country Cookin' Restaurant & Catering, 2836 N. 22nd Street
Slow-cooked brisket, ribs and barbecue chicken taste as good as they smell at Dibbs, where the meats come by the pound, in platters and on sandwiches. Collared greens, mac and cheese, and seasonal offerings like candied yams and corn on the cob complete the messy, incredible meal.
Where: Dibbs BBQ, 5617 Lancaster Avenue
Based in Strawberry Mansion and serving North Philadelphia, chef Kurt Evans’ pizza pop up features a different menu each week of inventive pies and dressed-up chicken wings available for pre-order and pick-up on select days. In addition to serving up flavorful, creative eats, Evans also brings his history of activism and community service to Down North, as the shop exclusively employs formerly incarcerated individuals and pays a fair wage.
Where: Down North Pizza, 2804 W. Lehigh Avenue
Chef Nicquan Church has created a good-for-you halal menu at this popular morning-through-afternoon Brewerytown spot owned by Roger Powe. Among the offerings: stuffed omelets, French toast, breakfast sandwiches, salmon patties, chicken panini, fruit smoothies, big salads and more.
Where: iMunch Cafe, 1233 N. 31st Street
Hearty soul food dominates the menu at this popular West Philly restaurant where regulars love the chicken wings. More menu highlights include grits and JD’s homemade lemonade, served with his signature “BAY-BEH” catchphrase.
Where: JD's Soul Food Kitchen, 4056 Lancaster Avenue
Operating since 2020, Level Up celebrates its status as one of a few Black-owned and LGBTQIA-welcoming spaces in Philadelphia’s Gayborhood. The club is a great cocktail spot, but also widely known for its stacked entertainment calendar. Guests can enjoy DJ shows, karaoke nights, drag performances and trans-specific shows nearly ever night of the week, with the goal of creating an environment where everyone feels represented.
Where: Level Up Bar & Lounge, 1330 Walnut Street
In a 19th-century cycling clubhouse and 20th-century music hotspot where John Coltrane, Grover Washington, Jr. and The Temptations performed, this bar and event space owned by Jake Adams serves lunch, dinner and drink specials daily. It’s a Cecil B. Moore landmark.
Where: The New Barber's Hall Restaurant & Lounge, 1402 W. Oxford Street
This North Philly spot serves up the flavor with stuffed shrimp, racks of lamb, crab cakes and popular salmon dishes, in addition to burgers, pastas and desserts.
Where: Paprika Halal, 4167 Germantown Avenue
This Northern Liberties spot — owned by Denice Moore — serves Jamaican and American fusion in the form of flaky chicken patties, homebrewed ginger beer and even a jerk chicken cheesesteak.
Where: Reggae Reggae Vibes, 517 W. Girard Avenue
Green Soul’s Robert and Benjamin Bynum also own West Oak Lane’s Relish, a local favorite offering modern Southern cuisine.
Where: Relish, 7152 Ogontz Avenue
Just north of City Hall (and next door to Green Soul), the Bynum brothers own the chic SOUTH Kitchen and Jazz Bar. The restaurant serves up Lowcountry fare (wood-grilled oysters, fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, buttermilk fried chicken), old-fashioned hospitality and a 50-bottle bourbon and whiskey program.
Where: SOUTH Kitchen & Jazz Bar, 600 N. Broad Street
Long known for casual, takeout soul food, chef and owner Barbara Dewan has leveled up with a stylish setting for down-home wings, candied yams, 7Up cake and custom cocktails.
Where: Tasties, 1214 N. 52nd Street
Coffee, cocktails and locally sourced comfort food highlight this popular coffee bar and creative collaborative space in Callowhill, owned by Nikisha Bailey and Matthew Nam.
Where: Win Win Coffee Bar, 931 Spring Garden Street
Cozy Alena’s Café in Mount Airy serves up excellent sandwiches, salads, sweets and more courtesy of chef Donte Fassett — who also runs Chef Donte’s Delicious Dishes Food Truck and a meal program for adults and child.
Where: Alena's Cafe, 6669 Germantown Avenue
On Frankford Avenue, the East Coast’s first African American woman-owned comics shop stocks Marvel, DC, big-time and self-published books for grown-ups, kids and everyone in-between. The spot — owned by Ariell R. Johnson — also serves coffee drinks and locally made pastries, including comic-book-hero-themed cupcakes.
Where: Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse, 2578 Frankford Avenue
This colorful Washington Square West spot adds an element to the coffee-pastry-sandwich trifecta: house-cured meats, served on toasts or by the pound. Owner Thane Wright, a professional coffee consultant, also participates in Quaker City Coffee’s reentry program, hiring people who have been incarcerated.
Where: Bower Café, 263 S. 10th Street
Satisfy breakfast and lunch cravings in Southwest Philly with caramel apple pancakes, salmon cakes, cheesesteak egg rolls and smoothies at Chef Reeky’s — and don’t forget to order grits. Available in several varieties, the party grits — jumbo shrimp, Chilean salmon, lump crab and jack cheddar dressed with scallions and scampi sauce — are the real standout.
Where: Chef Reeky’s Cafe & Juice Bar, 6517 Elmwood Avenue
Blew Kind owns this cozy, plant-filled Kensington cafe that names its espresso drinks after notable radicals, including Sojourner Truth, Angela Davis and Gil Scott-Heron. Teas, smoothies, panini sandwiches, biscuits and muffins come with a side of activism, community gatherings and creative spaces — making the spot both a literal and a figurative source of community sustenance.
Where: Franny Lou's Porch, 2400 Coral Street
This Center City favorite has kept owner Shawn Nesbit busy since opening the first Good Karma Café in 2007. Now, four locations serve fair trade and certified organic coffee made with rich flavors.
Where: Good Karma Café, 331 S. 22nd Street
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Good Karma Café, 928 Pine Street
Good Karma Café, 2319 Walnut Street
Good Karma Café, 265 S. Broad Street
This South Philly spot is known for two things: its freshly blended smoothies and its famous fried lobster burger. The beverages come in fruit, green and sweet varieties and are packed with good-for-you ingredients like whey powder, protein, almond milk and peanut butter. As for that burger, it’s fried lobster tail on a brioche bun with a side of fries and macaroni salad.
Where: Orchard Smoothie and Cafe, 1500 Federal Street
Locally sourced, non-GMO ingredients combine for organic, fresh-pressed juices and acai bowls at this Old City spot owned by Khoran Horn. There’s also a brioche breakfast egg sandwich and chipotle guac toast.
Where: Stripp'd Juice, 263 N. 3rd Street
Milkshakes and mousses whipped up by a mother-daughter duo serve customers looking for something sweet in West Philly. The fanciful shakes are decked out with cookies, whipped cream and colorful sprinkles piled high in flavors like cookies & cream and Fruity Pebbles. Each mousse — not quite ice cream, not quite pudding — is served in a cup with towering sweets.
Where: Banana Mousse, 5602 Spruce Street
Samirah Williams named her bakery after her grandmother, and each stunning treat is made with love and care. Pear cardamom honey tarts, chocolate espresso donuts, decadent macarons and more sweets are baked fresh to order, while cake jars (aka purse cakes!) satisfy cravings on the go. This full-service bakery also creates custom wedding cakes and sells mixes to go for those who want to whip up their own batch of Clara’s Groovy Deliciousness.
Where: Clara's Groovy Deliciousness
The pastries and desserts at Darnel’s are out of this world, but this little cafe tucked between Old City and Northern Liberties has a full menu that’s also worth exploring. Homemade biscuits, baked mac and cheese and beef jerky are among the offerings, and weekends mean pizza (Friday) and brunch (Saturday and Sunday). Darnel’s is also committed to supporting local and national organizations that raise awareness for HIV/AIDS.
Where: Darnel's, 444 N. 3rd Street
After a fire closed her 25-year-old North Philly homage to sugar, eggs and flour, owner Denise Gause did what any strong baker would do: Rebuilt it. Today, the phone rings off the hook for pound cake, pies, brownies, donuts, cookies and wedding cakes.
Where: Denise’s, 2916 N. 22nd Street
It’s all about the French toast for Lokal Artisan Foods: French Toast Bites, French Toast Bites Beer and French Toast Bites Coffee, to be exact. Started in 2018, this collection of food and beverage products uses ingredients grown and sourced responsibly with respect to origin and seasonality. Devotees of the sweet treats can find French Toast Bites at places like Cherry Street Pier, Spruce Street Harbor Park and at seasonal events
Where: Various locations including Cherry Street Pier, 121 N. Christopher Columbus Boulevard
The name says it all. Owner Pamela Thornton’s pound cakes delight in every flavor and every neighborhood. Lemon blueberry, sour buttercream and more are on the menu in storefronts in Yeadon and Kensington, as well as Thornton’s dessert-on-wheels Poundcake Heaven food truck. But the bubbly 7Up poundcake with a hint of vanilla is a can’t-miss (and a customer favorite).
Where: Poundcake Heaven, 712 Church Lane, Yeadon
Poundcake Heaven, 3415 Kensington Avenue
Mark and Tia El made history when they opened their Reading Terminal Market stall in early 2021. Sweet T’s Bakery is the first Black-owned bakery in the market’s 128-year history. The Els have been serving Philly since 2014, operating first as a South Philly storefront and then out of a food truck before starting out with a temporary spot in Reading Terminal. Pies are the star of the menu and Sweet T’s is known for its sweet potato pie with a graham cracker crust — a twist on the recipe Tia learned from her grandmother.
Where: Sweet T's Bakery, 51 N. 12th Street
Book the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package for a rewarding getaway in one of 2021’s top destinations, per Condé Nast Traveler, Fodor’s, Frommer’s, Esquire and more.
The exclusive deal — booked more than 175,000 times since 2001 — includes buy-one-get-one-free attraction tickets purchased at the Independence Visitor Center to 33 of Philly’s iconic museums and attractions and free hotel parking (worth up to $100 in Center City Philadelphia).
Find handmade jewelry, products for natural hair, comics and more at these Black-owned businesses...