In the past several months, I’ve become a lot more conscious of where I eat out and the people behind the food and products I consume. Having found myself with a whole lotta time in recent months, I have gotten very well acquainted with Postmates, and have been increasingly going out to eat (within social distancing guidelines). So I’ve had plenty of opportunities to discover and return to some amazing restaurants, many of which happen to be black-owned. One thing New Yorkers can do to support black people is support black businesses, and there are so many incredible ones. Here are my absolute favorite black-owned restaurants in New York City.
The Crabby Shack: Oh God the crab grilled cheese. Like holy shit. It was one of the best new foods I’ve tried in New York in quite a while. Absolutely stuffed full of melty, oozy cheese and crab meat, you get a lot of bang for your buck. It’s market price, around $12 and worth every penny. Super filling. I suspect the entire menu is quite good, but I’ll definitely be going back for the grilled cheese.
Milk and Pull: Really cool little coffee shop in Bushwick, with other locations in Bed-Stuy and Bushwick. I usually just go for a classic black (Stumptown) coffee on my way over to my best friend’s apartment, but recently tried a few of their sandwiches which are DANK. Great atmosphere, great service, and great breakfast food to go with (what is in my opinion) the best coffee in New York.
Extra Virgin: Beautiful neighborhood bistro in the West Village serving coastal Italian and French food, with gorgeous streetside dining and wonderful service. They’re honestly just super nice people. A couple weeks ago, I was spending the afternoon in the WV, had been downing copious amounts of coffee, and had to go to the bathroom very, very badly. Nowhere would let me use the restroom, even after I said I was going to pee my pants in the restaurant at one of the neighboring cafes. When I got to Extra Virgin, they were extremely friendly and let me use the bathroom without buying anything, no questions asked. So I decided to stay for dinner and was not disappointed. Butternut squash ravioli was off the charts, amazing flavor and perfectly portioned. Followed by an apple tart—an ideal end to a fall day. I have nothing but good things to say about this place.
Cheeky Sandwiches: I have written about Cheeky’s before, because it’s one of my favorite places in the whole city. This little shoebox southern style sandwich shop has one of the best chicken sandwiches in NYC, and it’s only $6. Everything I’ve tried here is great—I also love their shrimp po’boy and their beignets. It’s a little hard to find because it’s quite small and unassuming, but very much worth the hunt.
Cuts and Slices: One of the best pizza spots in Brooklyn—quick and cheap, usually not too crowded, with a really good variety and perfect chewy crispy thin crust. They have all the classics, in addition to more interesting pizzas like shrimp scampi, oxtail, and chicken and french toast. It’s cool but totally unpretentious, and usually my go-to lunch when I’m in the Bed-Stuy / Bushwick area.
Rustik Tavern: A cozy but stylish neighborhood favorite (Bed-Stuy / Clinton Hill) serving classic American fare. They have an extensive menu, so a lot of choices, and everything I’ve tried over several visits has been really good. I usually go for appetizers. It’s not super cheap but not expensive either, and well worth it. I would recommend making a reservation.
Sweet Chick: Warm, homey southern cooking. Very millennial. I had probably the best waiter I’ve ever had here—he was the most positive, friendly, fabulously gay man I’ve met in six years in New York. I wanted to be his friend; needless to say the service is altogether great here. The food is even better. It’s one of my favorites for a night out downtown, or a quick stop at their location by the 7th Ave Q / B train. It’s rare that I actually enjoy or even tolerate vegetables, but I would have their brussel sprouts or fried okra (currently not on the menu—yikes) every day if I could. Other favorites include shrimp and grits, chicken sandwiches, and the perfect Arnold Palmer.
Negril Village: This super hip Caribbean restaurant in Greenwich Village never, ever disappoints. I’ve been going here since I was in college (it’s right by NYU), usually for a night out with friends—it’s also got a really good bar, and pre-pandemic they had an in-house DJ. But the food itself is amazing—Caribbean classics with some interesting twists; updates on old favorites like collard green spring rolls. Their jerk bowls are great, and I really like their brunch menu.
Le Paris Dakar: Lovely little bakery in Bed-Stuy, which I only discovered a couple months ago, and have been to like ten times since. The crepes are delicious, stuffed full, and fresh. Savory and sweet options are equally good, so Le Paris Dakar is a good place for a quick lunch or dessert. It’s the perfect low-key French bakery—full of light and flaky, warm croissants.
Tsion Cafe: I had never tried Ethiopian food before last month, when I decided to expand my very limited pallet and wandered into this artsy, chic cafe in Sugar Hill. It’s a blend of Ethiopian and Mediterranean cuisine. I had doro tibs with jollof rice. Very very good. They’re also known for their Ethiopian veggie plates. Pre-pandemic (and presumably post-pandemic, eventually), they held artistic events and had live music. Can’t wait to head back there when things get better.
Peaches: Super warm and inviting southern style cafe in Bed-Stuy does literally everything right, but has an especially top-notch brunch. Their food is so filling and rich but doesn’t leave you feeling gross—not overly sweet or greasy. The upbeat vibe of the place really makes the experience. It feels like being at a block party with old friends. Drinks (at least the ones I’ve gotten) are served in a tupperware, double servings. No frills, in the best way, although the place has both substance and style. All-around, exactly what a neighborhood hotspot should be.