Tampa’s food scene has always been a hit with both locals and tourists alike, and the beach town has some notable names when it comes to culinary perfection. Black-owned restaurants in Tampa have somewhat of a cult following when it comes to regulars–the Sunday brunch crowd is well-versed in where to get the best shrimp and grits, red velvet waffles or perfect baked macaroni and cheese. Visit some of Tampa’s best black-owned restaurants for a taste experience you won’t soon forget.
1. 7th + Grove
1930 E. 7th Ave., Tampa, FL 33605
Founded by a trio of chefs who were frustrated at the area’s lack of southern cuisine, 7th + Grove is the go-to spot for southern classics and “neo-fusion.” The ambiance is part of the appeal of this southern eatery. Come for the shrimp and grits but stay for the music, the fellowship and the energy. Menu favorites include fried chicken thighs, baked macaroni and cheese and country collard greens. The restaurant also features a lounge area where you can kick up your heels to live music following your meal.
2. Al’s Finger Licking Good BBQ and Soul Food
2302 E. 7th Ave. Tampa, FL 33605 (Soul Food)
1609 Angel Olivia Sr. St. Tampa, FL 33605 (Bar-B-Que)
(813) 515-5036 (Soul Food) or (813) 956-0675 (Bar-B-Que)
An Ybor staple for more than a decade, this restaurant brings a taste of Nashville to the Sunshine State. Owner Al Reynolds has created a simple yet delectable menu of Tennessee-style smoked meats. Enjoy brisket, ribs, chicken and fried pork chops along with a dizzying array of side dishes like Jean Ann’s Lip Smacking Baked Beans, Tia’s TGIF macaroni and cheese, Aunt Lea’s Okra and Tomatoes, Joanna’s Rise and Shine Corn Bread and Aunt Nita’s Blackeyed Peas. Named the best BBQ restaurant in Florida and enjoying high ratings on Yelp, Al’s is not to be missed.
3. Chief’s Creole Cafe
901 22nd St. S. St. Petersburg, FL 33712
You don’t need to take a trip to the Big Easy to enjoy some New Aw’lins favorites. Elihu and Carolyn Brayboy have brought a taste of the Bayou to Tampa. A small, unassuming building, this eatery serves up spicy jambalaya, po-boys, gumbo and of course, shrimp and grits. Stepping into this place feels like walking into a favorite relative’s dining room. Each guest is welcomed warmly and each dish tastes like it was prepared with love.
4. Hogg Batch Coffee
2327 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, FL 33713
Twin brothers Duane and David Hogg roast every coffee bean in their shop with care, aging the beans in used whisky barrels. This infuses their cups of java unlike any you will find anywhere else, and bringing loyal coffee lovers back again and again. Flavors like coffee+bourbon, coffee+whiskey and coffee+rum are fan favorites, and are disrupting the coffee industry. They roast every bean in a cast iron skillet, bringing out the most intense flavors that permeate each cup.
5. Jerk Hut Island Grille and Beach Club
4495 West Gandy Boulevard, Tampa, Florida 33611
A meal from this Jamaican eatery will transport you from Tampa to the sandy shores of Kingston. The menu, which is filled with the usual fare—jerk chicken, oxtails, rice and peas and fried plantain is flavorful and keeps visitors coming back again and agin. The buffet offers a dizzying array of flavors, and it’s worth visiting multiple times to sample everything this Tampa favorite has to offer.
6. Ray’s Vegan Soul
953 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, FL
Owner “Chef” Ray has created a full menu of southern favorites in a plant-based form. The chef blends traditional soul food cooking with healthy ingredients and spices for a unique vegan experience. Each week, the eatery creates a pre-packaged meal option that diners can pick up and enjoy at home.
7. Rush Hour Chicken and Waffles
2140 34th Street S, St. Petersburg, FL 33711
When you have a hankering for breakfast food, black-owned Rush Hour Chicken and Waffles will always be a hit. Enjoy the classic favorite—five pieces of golden fried chicken wings served with a thick-crusted waffle drenched in syrup. If a more savory breakfast is your thing, the eatery serves a variety of omelets in both meat and vegetarian varieties.
8. Island Flavors and Tings
800 2nd Ave NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
There’s no need to brush off your passport to get a real taste of the Caribbean. Island Flavors and Tings brings a taste of the islands right to you. Enjoy desserts like mango bread loaf, Jamaican rum cake and calypso cake. Jerk chicken, curry chicken, mango meatballs and oxtails are the flavors of the day, and you can even order catering for next-day pickup. The restaurant has two locations—one in Gulfport and one in St. Pete for your convenience.
9. M&R Cafe
3320 E. Osborne Ave., Tampa, FL 33603
Run by the Rumlin family, this diner offers up delicious recipes that have been in the family for years. This restaurant is so popular that its menu options sell out nightly. Call ahead and pre-order mouthwatering meatloaf, oxtails, roast chicken, macaroni and cheese or melt in your mouth candied yams.
10. Kay’s Kitchen
11124 N. 30th St., Tampa, FL 33612
Originally from Chicago, master chef Kay fries up some of the Windy City’s favorites and serves them in her small, unassuming kitchen. Enjoy wings, chicken strips, fried gizzards and catfish, cooked to golden perfection. Add in some pizza puffs, corn nuggets and rice and beans and you will join the Kay’s Kitchen fans who frequent this eatery daily.
11. Mama’s Southern Soul Food Restaurant
3701 E. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Tampa, FL 33610
Chefs Reaves and Katrina make you feel at home in this city favorite. When you dine in, expect a chef to visit your table and make sure you’re enjoying your meal. This city favorite offers a full menu of southern classics like kettle chicken, chitterlings, fried pickles, pulled pork and hog maws. Don’t forget to end your meal on a sweet note with a slice of key lime cake, lemon pound cake or sweet potato pie.
When it comes to the best black-owned restaurants in Tampa, there is a delicious variety of dining choices, from southern-style kitchens to booze infused coffee to Louisiana gumbo and delectable desserts. Whether you’re looking for a quick bite with friends or a homestyle meal, you can find what you’re looking for at one of Tampa’s finest black-owned restaurants.