18 Essential Black-Owned Restaurants In Houston You Need To Know This BHM

A James Harden-backed steakhouse, grilled cheese game changers, and so much more

Houston’s history is steeped in Black culture, evidenced by geographical landmarks like the Third Ward, Emancipation Park, and Project Row House, among others. So, it’s no surprise that so many corners of the city are beautifully lined with stellar Black-owned businesses. Their creativity rings loudly in the culinary universe, and we’ve recently seen an influx of chefs converting vacant spaces into hotbeds for Southern hospitality—despite, or perhaps even because of, the pandemic’s chaotic impact on the industry at large. From the finest standalone oxtails and ocean-fresh seafood platters to familiar comforts like loaded macaroni and cheese, fluffy cornbread, and chicken finessed in a variety of ways, these are 18 Black-owned mainstays that’ll leave you speechless (but never hungry).


 



Twisted Grilled Cheese

https://www.twistedgrilledcheese.com


At Twisted Grilled Cheese, founder Ahmad Fobbs did well by this staple, adding a few delicious riffs to the mix to keep things exciting. He first launched this cheesy (in the best way possible) concept as a food truck, pumping out gooey sandwiches like Philly Chicken and Cheesesteaks, Smoky Brisket, and Pepperoni. TGC quickly expanded their efforts to a brick-and-mortar location, which allowed for even more sandwich magic. We're talking gourmet grilled cheeses stuffed with grilled mushrooms, spinach, artichokes, and a dash of buttery lobster, because seafood pairs well with pretty much everything.


How to book: Stop by for counter service.

 

Taste Bar + Kitchen

https://www.tastebarkitchen.com

They're not considered Montrose’s number one brunch destination for nothing. When dining here, expect to witness chef Don Bowie whipping up exquisite morning spreads and cocktails so refreshing that you'll be pondering on how you can recreate them at home. Menu choices include a variety of syrupy Chicken and Waffles, Lamb Chops neatly partnered with eggs, gouda-based Mac and Cheese, Grits topped with your choice of sautéed shrimp or blackened catfish, and other mouth-watering reasons to get out of bed on a Saturday.

How to order: Order takeout via ChowNow or get delivery via UberEats.

 


 

Thirteen Houston

http://www.thirteenhou.com/

Nestled along the outskirts of Downtown Houston, this glitzy mainstay knows how to pack a crowd. Seriously—it’s not easy to snag a reservation, and we’re all too often left to drool over their Instagram feed of fine eats courtesy of executive chef Tobias Dorzon. Spearheaded and owned by former Houston Rockets player James Harden, Thirteen flourishes in its sleek architecture and succulent brunch and dinner menus, which dabble in traditional Texas chophouse fare with a bit of a modern twist. Dinner guests can nosh on comforts like Country Fried Chicken, Pork Chops slathered in sauteed corn relish, and Lasagna, or go big with their buttery Grass-fed Ribeyes, Blackened Lobster Tails, and savory Egg Rolls remixed with seafood mac and cheese.


How to order: Reservations via the website, also available for deliver/takeout via GrubHub

 

Craft Burger

https://craftburgerfoodtruck.com

Shannen Tune cut his teeth in the kitchens of luxury hotels in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Austin, and Houston, a resume that ably prepared him for victory on Food Network’s Chopped as well as the launch of his uber popular food truck, Craft Burger. Now with a brick-and-mortar outpost successfully operating in Katy, Tune slings outrageous burger creations (mostly created with locally sourced black angus beef) like a behemoth topped with brown-sugar-chili-bacon, a truffle butter-oozing Juicy Lucy variation, and a saucy Impossible Burger that can be easily elevated into an entire meal. Other swoon-worthy delights include a roster of heavenly shakes (think Strawberry Cheesecake, Frosted Brownie Bits, and a vibrant ode to The Flintstones in a Fruity Pebble ensemble), hand-battered chicken tenders, and tasty sides like sweet potato fries garnished in their signature Craft Brother’s Seasoning.

How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating, order takeout via Toast, or get delivery via OrangeCrate.

 

ChòpnBlọk

https://chopnblok.co/

When it comes to exploring Houston’s ever-evolving culinary scene, you’re bound to indulge in some unforgettable experiences. Seriously—you might fall into a food trance just one appetizer in, and ChòpnBlọk is a perfect example of such a phenomenon. In the summer of 2018, owner Ope Amosu (who grew up in Lagos, Nigeria before immigrating to Houston with his family) set out to redefine fast-casual eating while spreading the West African culinary gospel with an innovative pop-up dining experience. His mission was a knock-out success, and it wasn’t long before ChòpnBlọk scored a permanent home in one of the city’s newest food halls, POST Houston. Sign up for a one-of-a-kind dinner and you’ll be treated to treasures such as smokey rice bowls crowded with finely chopped veggies, ripe stewed plantains, and steak skewers steeped in a ginger marinade and set to a soundtrack of Afro-beats and compelling conversation.


How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

 

Mico’s Hot Chicken

https://micoshotchicken.com

Realizing Houston’s dirth of true Nashville-style fried chicken, “Mico” Frydenlund and her husband and business partner Chris started this hot bird concept as a food truck in 2019. Things heated up so quickly they were able to open a brick-and-mortar spot just a short while later. Mico’s recipe is a riff on the legendary Prince’s Hot Chicken, and you can get yours by way of fiery ‘sammiches bursting with their signature sauce and coleslaw, waffle cut fries garnished with spicy chopped fried chicken and cheese, and crispy tenders. For those looking to tame the heat, take advantage of the tangy house ranch dressing or challenge your taste buds by loading up on spicy honey, drizzled on everything from sandwiches to vanilla ice cream.

How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order delivery via Favor.


 

Lucille's

http://www.lucilleshouston.com

This Southern charmer’s “herstory” starts with Lucille B. Smith, educator, culinary innovator, and great granny of co-owners Chris and Ben Williams. At Lucille’s, the Williams brothers pay homage to their family’s matriarch with delicious old-school comforts, sharing and reinterpreting some of her best recipes. We’re talking (or rather gushing) about a surplus of chicken and seafood sandwiches, catfish, and buttery grits, plus Roasted Hen paired with baked mac and cheese and Great Grandma’s famous (and totally poppable) Chili Biscuits. How to book: Reservations

 


 

Ray's BBQ Shack

https://www.raysbbqshack.com

Pitmaster Rayford “Ray” S. Busch’s low-and-slow prowess dates back to the ‘80s, when he owned and operated a barbecue food truck outside of nightclubs (and even before that, when he learned the craft of ‘cue from local Third Ward legend, Mr. River Falls). Now this decade-old smoke shack sits off Old Spanish Trail, treating hungry customers to East Texas-style Lott Links, 14-hour Slow-smoked Brisket, Chicago-style Rib Tips, and Thursday-only Smoked Oxtails alongside dirty rice, smoked mac and cheese, and fried corn on the cob.


How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating, order takeout via Toast or get delivery via Caviar.

 

Cool Runnings Jamaican Grill

http://coolrunningshouston.com/index.html

Locals know, “Triple D” knows, and it’s about damn you know, too—Cool Runnings is where it’s at when it comes to top quality island cuisine. Expect succulent mains like tender oxtail and curried goat that falls apart at the slightest touch alongside ocean-fresh specialties like ackee and saltfish. Chef-owner Terron Henry is a native to Jamaica, which may be why his flawlessly spiced and marinated Jamaican jerk chicken is the most popular dish on the menu (though we’d highly suggest bringing along a friend or two so you can taste through the whole shebang).

How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order take-out online.

 

Gatlin's BBQ

http://www.gatlinsbbq.com

Local pitmasters recently named Gatlin’s one of the city’s best places to score great barbecue and we wholeheartedly agree. Pitboss Greg Gatlin’s family-owned and -operated haunt has been around since 2010, with executive chef Michelle Wallace helping to steer the ship these days. You’ll want the ribs, here—baby backs, spare, or beef, they are all stupid good; as are the brisket and egg breakfast tacos, dirty rice, and loaded spuds, plus specials like fish and grits and so much more.


How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order take-out via Toast.

 

Esther's Cajun Cafe & Soul Food

http://estherscajunsoul.com

Owner Esther Lewis-Bernard has soul food in her blood—her great grandmother Mary Lewis was known for her country-style cooking, and her mother, Mamma Lewis, mastered Cajun cuisine. A pit stop at Esther’s Cafe (which is looking to expand to a larger space nearly a mile away from its Northside location) is the best way to immerse yourself in that history, from rich traditions like Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti and Smothered Pork Chops to delectable accompaniments like mac n’ cheese, creamy potatoes, and carefully formed cornbread. And it’s not all about the food, either—Lewis-Bernard is also known to give back to the community via scholarships, food donations, and other commendable contributions, so you can get your fill and feel good doing it.

How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

 

Houston This Is It Soul Food

http://thisisit.com

One of the oldest African American-owned restaurants in Houston, this family-run soul food joint originally opened in Freedmen’s Town back in 1959. Frank and Mattie Jones were the first proprietors and their grandson Craig Joseph now carries on the family legacy at its current location off Blodgett. Tuck a napkin into your Sunday best and feast on Smothered Oxtails and Fried Catfish complemented by heaping sides of rice and gravy and candied yams plus Banana Pudding just like grandma makes.

How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or get delivery via UberEats.

 

Reggae Hut

http://www.reggaehutcafe.com

TBK’s Marcus Davis has another home run under his belt with Reggae Hut, this time focusing on bonafide Caribbean food cooked up with Jamaican flair. Pop in for melt-in-your-mouth beef and veggie stew-filled patties, Brown Stew Chicken, Curry Goat, Creole-style Whole Snapper, and spot-on Jerk Chicken and Shrimp. Pair your poison with a side of fried plantains and wash it all down with a sweet, slightly sour housemade Sorrel or killer bottled Rum Punch.


How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating, order takeout via Toast, or get delivery via Favor.

 

Mikki's Soulfood Cafe

https://www.mikkiscafe.com

This soul food fixture traces its roots back over 20 years, when the late Jeanette Williams gained a devoted following in Houston’s southwest side thanks to a booming catering business and, eventually, a full-fledged eatery. Her kids, Craig Jr. and Jeanelle, are following in their mother’s hallowed footsteps by continuing to convert a new generation of soul food fanatics via their two area locations. Stop by for daily specials, from Monday’s scrumptious fried chicken to ham hocks on Wednesday, plus holy grail eats like fried catfish and chicken combos, smothered tilapia, gumbo teeming with all the crustaceans you can imagine, and show-stopping peach cobbler.

How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or get delivery via UberEats.

 

the breakfast klub

http://www.thebreakfastklub.com

Houston native Marcus Davis has built quite the community around this hearty breakfast spot—one that typically shows up in droves to dig into seriously enticing morning pick-me-ups like Katfish and Creamy Grits, an entire lineup of satisfying breakfast sandwiches, Smothered Biscuits and Gravy, and DIY omelets galore. TBK has been around for nearly two decades, but it’s never too late to jump in line and see what all the crispy, crunchy, and oh-so-buttery fuss is about.

How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating, order takeout via Toast, or get delivery via Favor.

 

Turkey Leg Hut

http://www.theturkeyleghut.com

We’re gonna go ahead and guess that you’ve already spotted this Third Ward staple’s drool-inducing stuffed turkey legs all over Instagram, or maybe you’ve seen the infamously long lines snaking around their pop-up food truck. The TLH hysteria began at the Houston Rodeo back in 2016, when Lynn and Nakia Price set up a stand hawking barbecue turkey legs to hungry patrons leaving the show. The duo swiftly gained a loyal following (not to mention, the occasional pop-up in San Antonio and Dallas), including celebrity devotees like Deshaun Watson, Kevin Hart, and Snoop Dogg. Though they boast quite the variety of colossal turkey legs with all the fixins, the hype also dribbles over to other highlights, such as their Fried Boudin Balls and bowls littered with choice meats, alfredo sauce, dirty rice, and crawfish-laced mac and cheese.


How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating, although we suggest ordering takeout via Toast, or get delivery via ChowNow.

 

Green Seed Vegan

http://www.greenseedvegan.com

There’s been a ton of comfort foods and smoked meat on this list so far (and rightfully so), but we think it’s high time for a veggie break. Get your green fix at this decade-old plant-based food truck-turned-brick-and-mortar location courtesy of owners Matti Merrell and Rodney Perry. Chow down on juicy paninis layered with maple jerk garbanzo and curried tempeh, raw dishes like walnut chorizo-based tacos and nori rolls teeming with almond pâté, Cauliflower Nuggets, and a pleasing lineup of cold pressed juices, smoothies, and elixirs to help wash it all down.


How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

 

Burns Original BBQ

https://burnsoriginalbbq.com

The late Roy Burns Sr. started selling barbecue to the Acres Homes community back in 1973, and a hometown star was born. Half a century later, Burns Sr.'s smoked meats and stick-to-your-ribs sides still slap, and today, you can fill your plate in the very same building where it all started, as grandsons Cory and Carl Crawford helped restore the original back in 2012. Opt for crowd-pleasers like tender slip-off-the-bone ribs, homemade links and beef slabs enjoyed solo or tucked into saucy sandwiches and loaded baked potatoes, dirty rice, and more.

How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or get delivery via Caviar and UberEats.

 




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