Since time immemorial, soul food has been a statement for many black families. As we close the curtain on this year’s black history month, it is just in time for us to celebrate black-owned restaurants with the best food, ambiance, and vibes. These black restaurants will serve you up a range of foods from great soul food, barbecue and so much more. Here are some top picks for the best black-owned Soul Food Restaurants DC.
Mr. Braxton Bar and Restaurant
3632 Georgia Ave, NW Washington DC 20010
This restaurant features a very well-designed interior that you will definitely love to eat at. The staff is warm and welcoming, something that will make you feel almost at home at the restaurant. There is some great artwork and the setup assures comfort and fun. One thing you might also note is the owner of the restaurant participating actively in serving and cleaning, a great way to lead by example. The restaurant offers a wide variety of soul food that once tasted will have you coming back for more.
Ben’s Chili Bowl
1213 U St NW Washington, DC 20009
Taste some history at this restaurant that was founded in 1958. It is run by Ben and Virginia Ali who have made some of their twists on popular foods like the hotdog a hit with their regulars. This restaurant helped shape history by staying open to feed activists, police, and other service workers during the riots of 1968. With its location on U Street, this restaurant has seen the environment around it conform to time and developments. As a well-known restaurant, the place is a must-visit if you happen to be on U street, something that former President Barack Obama will agree on.
403 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002, USA
Founded by Chef Peter Prime and his sister Jeanine, this restaurant promises the authentic taste of Trinidad right in the heart of Washington DC. Prime is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute and has also trained at Spark and other top-notch restaurants. With a name derived from slave labor in the cane fields of Trinidad, the menu features a mix of cuisines spanning from Spanish to Indian foods. Their pork belly laced with cumin or their paratha tiffin box is some of the customer’s favorites.
Their food and service are top of the range and the Bib Gourmand Michelin Guide for DC 2020 stamps on that fact.
2714 Georgia Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001
This is a small bookstore cafe that features some of the best paninis you will ever have. Founded by Hailr and Shirikiana, both filmmakers, the cafe is named after one of their films.
Apart from the bitings, you might be fascinated by their collection of books and videos that tell the stories of Africans in the diaspora.
The cafe also hosts some small events including poetry afternoons, screenings of African American films, and literature readings.
Creole on 14th
3345 14th St NW Washington, DC 20010
This is the taste of Creole comes to Washington courtesy of Creole on 14th. The service in this restaurant is very high quality and the Creole menu will have you coming back or ordering for more.
They also serve up some seafood with a Creole twist, a great tasting experience for someone who loves a different take on their favorite foods.
651 Florida Ave NW Washington, DC 20001
This is quite a popular choice since it combines a pub, an eatery, and a cafe. One of its most popular dishes is in its name, the Half Smoke. This dish is prepared using a wood-powered grill to enhance the flavor of smoke.
The menu includes other great dishes like jambalaya, crab fries, butterfly chicken and so much more. You can drop in for breakfast, lunch, or brunch with your friends for a great culinary experience.
Oohh’s & Aahh’s
1005 U St NW Washington, DC 20001
This restaurant is a national treasure for mind-blowing soul food. It was founded by Oji Abbott, a star-studded chef born and raised in Washington.
Just stepping into the restaurant will send you back to those days you were young and your grandmother made you some of her best recipes. The Southern dishes served here are a blend of family recipes and skilled chef techniques, a combination that will melt your taste buds. They serve up a decent Buffalo, cornbread, and one of the best barbecues in the entire district.
2928 Georgia Avenue Washington, D.C. 20001
Vegans have a home at this restaurant owned by Vernon and Lynn. Their menu is a hundred percent vegan, something that is rare in a barbecue and chicken favorite industry.
The two have created and have continued to create a menu that provides vegan chicken and cheeseburgers while also providing some of the common foods like tofu and hummus. Their herbed quinoa is the one healthy snack you did not know you needed.
1114 – 1118 U Street Washington D.C. 20009
This little restaurant brings the aroma and taste of Ethiopia to Washington. As one of the oldest Ethiopian restaurants in DC, they have been serving some family-owned recipes that have made them a favorite to many people. Their kitfo, raw meat with chili and butter goes like hot cake. If you want some bitings, the tibs are a great choice and if you are with your friends, their platter will ensure good samples and satisfaction for all of you.
Florida Avenue and Grill
1100 Florida Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20009
One of the signatures in the black people’s food is a good barbecue, something that Florida Avenue and Grill deliver spot on. One of the unique facts about this place is that it has been open for 77 years. It may have changed hands from the Wilsons to Imar Hutchins in 2005 but the food and the vibe have remained consistent.
Their menu includes great breakfast entrees and dinners that taste like home. Their signature corn muffin is a treat you will love.
Due to the pandemic, check the websites or call up these Soul Food Restaurants DC before visiting as some are only serving to take away orders. For others you have to make a reservation due to reduced seating arrangements that adheres to social distancing.
6912 4th St NW, Washington, DC 20012
Richard “Dickie” Shannon and his pal Horace started this seafood joint in 1990. The DMV area is widely known for the freshest and tastiest fish in America, and you’ll have little doubt of this fact once you eat just about anything on the menu. Two of the more popular meals are the fried catfish sandwich and the homemade crab cake. But a delicious bite from Horace and Dickie’s doesn’t need to be from the sea: their mac and cheese and hush puppies will leave you more than satisfied.
709 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002
Po Boy Jim is a family-owned restaurant and bar, serving Cajun food that teleports you right down to the Big Easy. New Orleans cuisine is anything but light; you can get the District Po Boy, stuffed with sirloin steak, bacon, provolone, shrimp, and a remoulade sauce, or the Gumbo on H, overloaded with andouille, shrimp, Cajun-style chicken, and scallion rice. Po Boy Jim is open for brunch as well as late-night dining so you can satisfy your Cajun craving no matter the time of day. Don’t forget the order of beignets.
308 Kennedy St NW, Washington, DC 20011
Andrene’s is a small spot with some big flavor! They’re serving up all of that authentic Jamaican soul food that you love oh so much. They’ve got all the classics from jerk chicken and oxtails to veggie patties and ribs. They also have seafood options and combination plates so if you can’t decide what to get, you can try multiple items. Everything at Andrene’s is packed with flavor and will make you feel like you’re right at home.
1301 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002
KitchenCray puts a nice modern twist on some delicious Caribbean classics like jerk chicken and shrimp and grits. You are going to spend a little bit more money here, but for the portion sizes and quality of the food it is beyond worth it. They have brunch on Saturday’s and Sunday’s and serve dishes like oxtail benedict and crab cake BLT’s. One of the most popular appetizers on the menu are the oxtail spring rolls which are a must try when you come here. It can get pretty packed so you might want to call ahead so you don’t have to wait too long to experience all the deliciousness!
200 Upshur St NW, Washington, DC 20011
Hitching Post is basically a DC staple at this point. They’ve been serving up great soul food since 1967, so they must be doing something right. This spot has dive bar vibes and a great outdoor patio, but they are known for their delicious southern comfort food. They have a ton of great sandwich and entree options as well as all of the classic sides like mac & cheese, cole slaw, and home fries. The fried chicken is made fresh to order and will not disappoint. The fried catfish and crab cakes are also great choices and will keep you coming back for more!
1243 Good Hope Rd SE, Washington, DC 20020
This spot is the definition of a hole in the wall… with exceptionally good food by the way. Their prices will make your wallet happy and their portions and flavor will make your stomach happy. The chicken sandwiches are fried to perfection and have a generous piece of meat on their house made rolls. The mac & cheese is the cheesiest mac around and you’ll more than likely need to phone a friend to help you finish all of it. Call ahead so you’re order is ready when you get there and enjoy a piping hot, fresh southern comfort meal.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on March 8, 2021 and last updated on November 26, 2021. Please refer to restaurant websites and social media pages for the most up-to-date information.