Communion's Kristi Brown. Photography by Amber Fouts.
On the spectrum of ways one might fight embedded racism and systemic injustice, ordering crab quiche or porchetta from one of Seattle’s Black-owned restaurants is a small thing. But it’s immediate, it’s direct, and you can do it over and over again. One tiny upside to all that's happened since 2020: Seattle-area diners made a sustained habit of supporting restaurants and local businesses that reflect our values. Here, an updated list of our favorite Black-owned restaurants across Seattle, and beyond.
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Lake City Way
The story of Luam Wersom working his way up from dishwasher to owner at this long-standing Latin American and Cuban restaurant is a great one. The food is just as remarkable. Dishes like vaca frita and pescado en guiso—even the accompanying rice—bear the finesse of 20 years of experience. Oh, and the titular mojitos? Legit. Order delivery online or peruse the menu and call 206-525-3162.
Get thee to the location in Wallingford for some goat curry, jerk chicken, aloo pie, and other dishes that express owner, and local legend, Pam Jacob’s Trinidadian roots. If you see her doubles (flatbreads made of curried chickpeas) surface as a special on Instagram, hustle to grab one ASAP.
Pike Place Market
Chef Daisley Gordon’s perpetually flawless French restaurant in Pike Place Market has set aside its early-pandemic delivery programs, but continues offering takeout alongside meals in its cheerful dining room. Among Gordon’s many professional accomplishments: creating fries that remain crisp in transit.
A thoroughly unassuming storefront on Cherry offers up injera made with care, a lengthy menu that includes breakfast(!), genuine service, and a good-size garden patio during warmer months. Call 206-328-0404 for takeout.
In this corner space with its cheerful yellow logo and stools to match, owner Terrell Jackson is carrying on the legacy of his grandparents, who ran the original Catfish Corner at 23rd and Cherry for 25 years. Jackson ran a few short-term versions of Catfish Corner farther south. Now his permanent home, less than a mile from his grandparents’ original, serves that familiar lineup of cornmeal-dusted catfish, hush puppies, shrimp, greens, gumbo, and the Ohbama burger.
Bridgette Johnson opened her cafe in 2020, then made it feel instantly indispensable to the neighborhood. Don’t let the “Juice Bar” part of the name fool you; Central Cafe starts the day with breakfast burritos and espresso (plus juice and smoothies) and rolls on into grilled cheese, layer cake, and happy hour taquitos you can consume on the homey covered patio. Order online.
From a corner spot in the Liberty Bank Building, chef Kristi Brown presides over one of the town's biggest-deal restaurants. Communion fuses Southern fare and Asian traditions to reflect her personal purview of Seattle: A banh mi–po’boy hybrid stuffed with fried catfish and swiped with pate—or a piquant neck bone stew. Freaking fantastic wings. Order online or try to score a table in the dining room, at the bar, or on the heated, protected patio.
On weekends, crowds mill around outside, waiting for their turn at one of the town’s best brunches, a comfort constellation of fried chicken and waffles and biscuits and gravy. Co-owner Erika White presides over the dining room with a demeanor just as warm as those waffles. Fat’s starts serving its pimento- and gravy-filled menu starting at 11:30 on weekdays, and you can still order for takeout or delivery online.
Trey Lamont fuses culinary training with spice inspiration gleaned from visiting Caribbean relatives on the East Coast. The result: a majestic jerk fried chicken, plus similarly kicky ribs, seafood, even a chicken burrito. A second location is headed to Midtown Square this year, part of Lamont’s plans to locate future Jerk Shack projects in places that create opportunity within Black communities.
Every neighborhood wishes they had a spot like Joyce Hosea’s market on Union. A counter that can whip you up a charcuterie plate, or sell you a tub of housemade posole or pot roast or pimento cheese. Hosea does all her own butchering, and ensures the cafe counter on the other side of the market puts out a menu of sandwiches, salads, and happy hour snacks that’s far broader than you might expect.
Donna Moodie might be busy as executive director of the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict (not to mention the marvelous plantain chips available at area retailers), but she still runs one of Seattle's most charming restaurants, complete with covered patio and a yen for music on vinyl. Takeout is available Tuesday through Saturday evening.
A star among Cherry Street’s cluster of great Ethiopian spots for more than a quarter of a century, this converted house now does a steady stream of takeout; owner Belaynesh Chera might have an equal fan base for both her veggie combo and meat dishes. Cash only; call 206-860-1724 to order.
Capitol Hill’s restaurant scene changes by the minute, but chef Sabrina Tinsley’s northern Italian menu is a comforting constant on 12th Avenue (ditto that gorgeous space). The online takeout and delivery menu offer smart adaptations like pasta kits and bake-at-home lasagna trays. A few transparent “igloos” on the sheltered deck offer outdoor dining with a side of Pike/Pine scenery.
Makini Howell is a vegan phenom, as evidenced by the brunch, lunch, dinner, and dessert menus at her Capitol Hill original, now equipped with streetside patio pods. An online takeout menu also offers family meals, homespun sweets, and an all-day menu that ranges from faux reubens, dinner specials, and oyster mushroom calamari. Meanwhile her adjacent salad restaurant, Plum Chopped, puts Evergreens to shame.
Pike Place Market
Former ER technician Rhonda Faison sells vivid cold-pressed juice by the growler or the takeaway cup from her counter in the heart of Pike Place Market, near the Ellenos stand. The lineup is full of seasonality (watermelon in summer, cranberry and pineapple come winter) but also lots of green juice.
Right now, a bastion of family-recipe soul food hides in the rear of a nondescript parking lot, but mother-daughter owners Barbara Collins and Lillian Rambus are about to move to a prominent new address on Jackson Street. The pair makes marvelous buttermilk and corn bread waffles, shrimp and grits, or just a simple breakfast with grits or home fries. But Simply Soulful’s most distinguishing quality might be its regulars, the sort of enthusiasts who won’t hesitate to extol (rightly) the biscuit and sweet potato pie to uninitiated diners. Call 206-474-9841 to order takeout.
Inside this unexpectedly roomy Jamaican restaurant and lounge, set back from Jefferson Street like a secret, owners Carlene Comrie and Dwayne Blake ply Seattle’s decidedly non-Caribbean environs with big, bold flavors. An order of fiery-tender jerk wings, chicken or goat or shrimp in a bright curry, or the classic beef patty (a pastry with seasoned meat), and tender plantains packs serious transportive powers, even when it comes in a takeout clamshell.
Half the appeal is the Ethiopian and Eritrean food—the vegetarian combos, the beef tibs sandwiches, the wots, the all-day breakfast. The other half is the warm welcome from owners Yodit Seyoum and Filli Abdulkdra. Regulars also dig the espresso and shelves of bulk spices and pantry items.
Step inside this cheerful green-walled cafe and scoop shop and three generations of owner Ashanti Mayfield’s family might be waiting to assist. Ice cream flavors feel classic, but not basic: coffee toffee crunch, watermelon sorbet, a rich vegan rocky road, and wow that banana pudding. You can always warm up afterward with one of the daily soups.
Owner Tess Thomas pays tribute to her mother (and her recipes) at this no-nonsense spot where family lore lines the walls. The barbecue menu’s about as classic as it gets, but little touches like chopped brisket in the greens (and an admirable smoke ring on the brisket) turn familiar dishes into something memorable. If Thanksgiving happened in the summertime, it would taste like Emma’s sweet potato pie.
Okay, technically Bill Hart's converted home at the crossroads of Rainier and Martin Luther King, Jr. Way is a bakery, not a restaurant. But who's going to quibble when we're talking about peach cobbler, pecan, sweet potato, or multiple varieties of custardy chess pie? Order individual-size tarts or four- and nine-inch pies online, or head inside and ask for whatever just came out of the oven.
A fantastic soul food restaurant hides inside the historic Royal Esquire Club. Mother-daughter owners Talya Miller and LaShon Lewis dish up shrimp and grits, fried pork chops, decadent mac and cheese, and a great meatloaf sandwich. Yes, the strawberry lemonade is as good as everyone says. On February 7, the restaurant adds dine-in, but delivery apps and takeout remain fixtures.
Erasto Jackson’s menu combines barbecue, soul food, and Jamaican culinary traditions. This means flawless brisket and jerk spareribs mingle with curry goat and mac and cheese with a kick. The busy smokehouse on Rainier also puts out one of the town’s unforgettable burgers, plus a mean jerk fried chicken atop plantain waffles at lunch. Online ordering is a welcome arrival, as are the handful of sidewalk tables.
At Stevie Allen’s friendly counter, Alaskan cod remains delicate beneath its crispy fried shell. Fries are gently seasoned, the crab puppies downright transcendent, and if it’s a Monday or Tuesday, don’t sleep on the special gumbo, packed with seafood. Nothing here is fancy, and it’s all prepped with care…and sans gluten. Order online.
An oasis since 1978, long a neighborhood fixture. Owner Theo Martin and Jamaican-born chef Bobby Laing have perfected the island food/soul food balance of oxtail stew and jerk chicken—or gumbo and tostones, fried green plantains smothered in garlic and red onions. The coconut corn muffins will win over self-proclaimed coconut haters, and homespun desserts like 7-Up pound cake are absolutely worth an order—provided they didn’t sell out already. Island Soul is the sort of restaurant to which nearby residents pledge lifelong allegiance, but also merits a drive across town. Recent years have added online ordering and a gaily covered patio; in 2022 the third-generation business will open a second restaurant, Arleana's, in Kirkland.
Siblings Briz Leake and Teddy Graham must perform some sort of grill sorcery to inject the taste of onions and peppers into the very essence of that finely chopped beef. By the time these hefty cheesesteaks make their way into your hands, the meat juice and cheese sauce have fused into a sort of comfort food superflavor. It’s an elbow-throwing contender for the best cheesesteak in town; King Philly’s open daily from lunch through dinner and you can see the menu on most of the delivery apps (but maybe consider calling 206-722-2434 to order directly).
Somalia-born Marian Ahmed (yes, she's Mama Sambusa) serves her native street food, including the titular savory pastries, as well as sandwiches, salads, and pasta. Dishes bear the names of family members, and the assurance that the entire menu is halal. Desserts are unexpected and fun and, wow, the kitchen will fry up those samosas until 4am.
After years of selling his okazu pan (Japanese-style fried buns stuffed with curry or creative liberties like salmon, lentils, or barbecue pork) via local coffee shops, Harold Fields now takes direct online orders from his kitchen in Rainier Beach. Submit advance orders for pickup—preferably on a Saturday so you can also score some weekend-only beignets, dusted with spiced powdered sugar. (Related: Fields also makes a yuzu kosho that ranks among Seattle’s best local condiments.)
Boutique owner Malika Siddiq turned a rear storage space into a proper speakeasy, found only via an unmarked alley entrance. Inside, a chic black-and-bronze bar mixes up classic sazeracs and vieux carres and house New Orleans–themed drinks (plus the occasional hurricane-flavored Jell-O shot). The homage to her family's Crescent City roots continues with a menu of gumbo, jambalaya, mac and cheese, and red beans and rice that feels homey, but doesn’t stint on spice.
The former chainlet has settled into a single location with a ton of great lunch specials plus a vast and versatile lineup (combo meals! meat by the pound!), all liberally doused in a house sauce more tangy than sweet—no wonder Jones sells it by the enormous jar. Ribs and brisket are more homestyle than high-concept, and the corn bread is as indulgent as any dessert (though that’s no reason to skip the pie). Order online for delivery or call 206-739-6169 for takeout.
Mark Fuller may be the culinary brains behind the General Tso’s chicken and honey walnut prawns. But co-owner Patric Gabre-Kidan is one of the savviest operators in town; he masterminded the bar, the cocktails, and the unrelentingly great atmosphere at this neo-dive inspired by Chinese American restaurants of yore.
Despite the name of his Bothell restaurant, David Hayward isn’t beholden to a particular style—the South Carolina native cultivates his own brand of barbecue, smoking brisket and pulled pork over a variety of woods and making his own sauces. Order online for takeout.
In the Before Times, co-owner and executive chef Dre Neeley became a Vashon Island favorite for a menu that cross-referenced European and Northwest cuisine, with ample dashes of the American South. Over this past extraordinary year, he has flexed those various sensibilities in the form of takeout popups, focusing on everything from porchetta to fried chicken to breakfast for dinner. Keep an eye on Instagram for upcoming menus.
Central District, Woodinville
Washington’s first Black-owned brewery is based in Woodinville, but pours brews like its Grandma’s Hands ginger molasses stout at various bars and restaurants around town. Cans of Black Stripe or Trail Blazer pale ale also surface at local stores like PCC. Also exciting: MBC owner Rodney Hines just opened a Seattle taproom at 26th and Cherry with a covered and heated outdoor space.
Todd and Tanieka Minor’s duo of south King County restaurants serve up fried goodness—shrimp, chicken, catfish, and pork chops—with classic Southern sides like collard greens and mac and cheese. The original location in Kent is takeout only, while a roomy new outpost in Covington does dine-in.
Co-owner Sachia Tinsley helped open her sister’s beloved Italian spot, Osteria La Spiga, on Capitol Hill, so it’s no surprise the menu at her cafe embraces European fare like fresh pastas (lasagna with ragu, tagliatelle with forest mushroom cream sauce), crispy polenta cakes, and beef bourguignon.
Seattle’s most famous chicken shack began in 1984 as a counter across the street from Garfield High School; now more than a dozen locations across Washington dispense original, spicy, and half-and-half combos. Seattle-area locations have set up online ordering for takeout and delivery.
Everett, Lake City
Ezell Stephens (yes, that Ezell) went on to found this duo of fried chicken shops, whose crispy, well-seasoned wings and thighs remind you why this man is a legend in the first place. Takeout options range from snack-size combos to family-style spreads, and the Everett location does gluten-free bird, if you call ahead.
Decadent cookies (including vegan and gluten free creations) based in Kirkland, but shipped nationwide. You can also find them at some Seattle-area farmers markets.
A picture of an alien adorns the side of this food truck, a tribute to co-owner Brandon Terry’s Roswell hometown. Flavors from New Mexico rule a menu full of green chile stew, frito pie, and smothered posole burritos. The truck is still parked for winter, but you can check Facebook for whereabouts.
Matthew Lewis’s mobile ode to his native New Orleans arrived in the early days of Seattle’s food trucks and remains one of our best, with a menu full of po'boys, gumbo, shrimp and grits, and way more. Check Facebook for current locations and menu.
What about JuneBaby?
Edouardo Jordan’s southern-inspired restaurant reopened February 4. In 2021, The Seattle Times published the results of an 18-month investigation wherein female employees shared accusations of sexual misconduct that occurred while working for the nationally acclaimed chef. Seattle Met believes character is an important factor in recommending a restaurant or local business. But also that anyone accused of harmful behavior deserves an opportunity to evolve and grow—in actions, not just in words. At this time, we’ve chosen to withhold JuneBaby from this list.