Philadelphia is rich in Black culture, heritage and history. The tradition carries on in Philly’s array of Black-owned and -operated restaurants, coffee shops and bars.
Need some comics with a cold brew? Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse. How about jazz with Southern food? SOUTH Kitchen and Jazz Parlor. Maybe delicious international cuisine? Look no further than Youma, Jamaican Jerk Hut, Aksum Cafe and more.
Here’s a tailored list of some of the city’s standout Black-owned eateries.
Ariell R. Johnson is the first African-American woman on the East Coast to own a comic book shop. The venue, on Frankford Avenue, stocks Marvel, DC, big-time and self-published books for grown-ups, kids and everyone in-between — and serves up coffee drinks and locally made pastries, including comic-book-hero-themed cupcakes.
Where: Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse, 2578 Frankford Avenue
Owned by Darryl Jones, this classic comic-book store known for dollar comics, manga, back issues, horror, sci-fi and old-school arcade games such as Street Fighter has been a South Street mainstay since 2001.
Where: Atomic City Comics, 638 South Street
Blew Kind owns this cozy, plant-filled Kensington cafe offering locals-inspired espresso drinks, plus teas, smoothies, focaccia sandwiches, biscuits and muffins with a side of activism, readings and drum class — effectively transforming the spot into both a literal and a figurative source of community sustenance.
Where: Franny Lou's Porch, 2400 Coral Street
Rose petals- and whipped cream-topped strawberry waffles? Yes, please, in this cozy Germantown refuge owned by Jania and Desmin Daniels, that serves breakfast and lunch six days a week. Other reasons to trek to Northwest Philly include free Wi-Fi, a child-centered entertainment room, croque monsieurs, salads and tropical smoothies.
Where: Rose Petals Cafe & Lounge, 322 W. Chelten Avenue
After a fire closed her 25-year-old North Philly homage to sugar, eggs and flour, Denise Gause did what any strong baker would do: She rebuilt it. Today, lines once again form out the door and the phone rings off the hook for Denise’s pound cake, pies, brownies, doughnuts, cookies and wedding cakes.
Where: Denise’s, 2916 N. 22nd Street
Robin Broughton-Smith’s gone from Jay-Z’s accountant to the creator of cookies, cakes, baked donuts, cupcakes and all manner of seasonal specialties in Fairmount. The shop also offers classes and private parties.
Where: Sweet Nectar Dessert Kitchen, 547 N. 20th Street
Customers with a taste for the perfect combo of soul, Caribbean and American cuisines — at low prices — meet up to chow down at this beloved destination owned by Carl Lewis Sr. Hearty portions of blackened wings, jerk turkey with stuffing, baby back ribs and more are worth the trip to West Philly.
Where: 48th Street Grille, 310 S. 48th Street
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Saba Tedla owns this Mediterranean — North African, European, Middle Eastern — BYOB spot known along the Baltimore Avenue corridor for its vegetable tajines, Lebanese lemon chicken and shrimp, Greek lamb chops and tapas like kale spanikopita, roasted garlic hummus and roasted beet salad. Also on offer: a kids’ menu and weekend brunches with sweet corn griddlecakes, Turkish scrambled eggs, shakshuka and Monte Cristo sandwiches. In 2017, OpenTable rated Aksum one of the “Top 100 Best Brunch Restaurants in America.”
Where: Aksum, 4630 Baltimore Avenue
Heaping platters of comfort soul food and barbecue come made daily — and never from a can at this restaurant owned by Tank and Nicole Barkley. The menu includes hickory-smoked, sauce-slathered slabs of ribs; apple-studded yams; five-cheese mac; garlicky collards; grandma’s recipe potato salad; fried fresh fish; green beans and, on occasion, pig’s trotters.
Where: Barkley's BBQ, 2017 N. 29th Street
Also owned by Saba Tedla and serving up comfort food, yummy coconut rice, pan-seared salmon and some amazing Buffalo cauliflower, this fun West Philly restaurant — with both a kids’ menu and a cool bar scene — is named for Booker Wright, a server who risked — and later lost — his life for voicing what it was like to be a Black waiter in the 1960s in an all-white restaurant in Mississippi.
Where: Booker's Restaurant & Bar, 5021 Baltimore Avenue
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Owned by Kevin Bell, this charming Brewerytown soul food eatery got its name from the idea that their food is so good it melts in your mouth (like butter). Traditional items include fried wings and sides known for selling out fast. Specialties include home-baked cakes and pies directly from Bell’s mother’s oven.
Where: Butter's Soul Food to Go, 2730 W. Girard Avenue
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When Top Chef contestant Sylva Senat temporarily left Philly for Savannah, Georgia, he at least left the city with five-chili pastrami, queso- and chipotle-cream-topped yucca fries, and the most loaded nachos ever. All this from a shoebox-size eatery in the heart of Center City.
Where: Dos Tacos, 120 S. 15th Street
Robert and Benjamin Bynum own Chestnut Hill’s fast-casual Green Soul serving healthful, soulful comfort food such as mango jerk salmon, black bean veggie burgers and roasted herb chicken.
Where: Green Soul, 8229 Germantown Avenue
Right next door to Green Soul (and also owned by Robert and Benjamin Bynum), Paris Bistro & Jazz Cafe has an elegant dinner menu that offers escargot and French onion soup — and live jazz sets four evenings a week.
Where: Paris Bistro & Jazz Cafe, 8229 Germantown Avenue
Also owned by Robert and Benjamin Bynum, West Oak Lane’s Relish offers modern Southern cuisine, live jazz Thursday through Saturday and a 40-foot brunch buffet on Saturday and Sunday.
Where: Relish, 7152 Ogontz Avenue
Just north of City Hall, Robert and Benjamin Bynum own spare and chic South. This restaurant dishes up Lowcountry fare (chicken-fried oysters, lobster and grits, hush puppies), old-fashioned hospitality, live jazz six nights a week and a 50-bottle bourbon and whiskey program.
Where: SOUTH Kitchen & Jazz Bar, 600 N.Broad Street
Prolific brothers Robert and Benjamin Bynum own not one but five dope venues. Warmdaddy’s is the spot for New Orleans jazz, acoustic soul — Urban Guerilla Orchestra, Jeff Bradshaw, Zeek, Point Blank or Amazin’ Grace Little perform here — and the food to go with it, including a massive menu of barbecue short ribs, skillet mac and cheese, gumbo Ya Ya and more.
Where: Warmdaddy's, 1400 S. Christopher Columbus Boulevard
Chef Nicquan Church has created the good-for-you menu at this popular morning-through-afternoon Brewerytown spot owned by Roger Powe. On the menu: stuffed omelets, French toast, breakfast sandwiches, salmon patties, avocado or turkey BLTs, fruit smoothies, big salads and panini — including Halal and non-dairy options.
Where: iMunch Cafe, 1233 N. 31st Street
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Owned by Lisa Wilson, one of the city’s favorite casual BYOBs has been serving up famous jerk chicken, oxtail, curry shrimp with sides of roti, cornbread and johnny cakes since 1994.
Where: Jamaican Jerk Hut, 1436 South Street
Haitian-born Top Chef competitor Sylva Senat helms this chic and airy Midtown Village stunner—retractable roof, nature-inspired decor and all. At Maison, inventive cocktails such as the splurge-worthy gin and terrarium served in a mini terrarium in a glass bowl, pair with equally inventive apps and mains.
Where: Maison 208, 208 S. 13th Street
Fried chicken, extra-cheesy mac and cheese, caramelized candied yams, collard greens, Southern-fried chicken wings, smothered turkey wings and other feel-good soul food come from this simmering stall in the historic Reading Terminal Market. Parker’s sit-down spot, complete with a stylish lounge, is a few blocks South, the much-loved Ms. Tootsie’s.
Where: Kevin Parker's Soul Food Cafe, 51 N. 12th Street
Owned by Jake Adams, The New Barber’s Hall operates in a building that housed a 19th-century cycling clubhouse and then a 20th-century music hotspot where legends John Coltrane, Grover Washington, Jr. and The Temptations performed. Today, the Cecil B. Moore landmark is a diverse bar and event space that serves lunch, dinner and drink specials daily.
Where: The New Barber's Hall, 1402 W. Oxford Street
This total find owned by Denice Moore serves Jamaican and American fusion in the form of flaky chicken patties, homebrewed ginger beer and even a jerk chicken cheesesteak on the edge of Kensington.
Where: Reggae Reggae Vibes, 517 W. Girard Avenue
Owned by Tom Smart, this small, family-owned spot preps all kinds of seafood favorites — crabs, steamed combos, pasta and, of course, shrimp — lunch special, platter or sandwich style.
Where: Shrimp Express II, 2205 W. Indiana Avenue
The African cuisine scene is especially rich in West Philly. One notable newcomer is this Senegalese spot, whose Fulani owner Youma Ba brings a taste of Dakar with dibi (grilled lambchops), yassa (spicy grilled chicken with habanero and green pepper), fatata (beef patties), aloco (fried plantains), thieboudienne (fried rice with vegetables and fish) and ginger juice blended with mango, strawberry, grenadine or peach.
Where: Youma, 4519 Baltimore Avenue
Book the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package for stays through November 30, 2018 and get FREE hotel parking as well as free tickets to the iconic Philadelphia Museum of Art, a $25 gift card to the must-visit Reading Terminal Market, free Philly-themed mini-golf at Franklin Square and a $10 Lyft credit.
Explore museums and galleries featuring African and African-American artists