best black owned restaurants in chicago

Here’s what you need to eat from the best Black-owned restaurants in Chicago


y dining at the best Black-owned restaurants in Chicago, you’re not just supporting Black Chicagoan communities—you’ll also be indulging in some of the best food that the city has to offer.

With so many local and national award-winning restaurants to try, you’ll always know what to order, from where, with the help of the dish rating app Wadju.

Wadjers have spent a lot of time coming together to debate not only who’s making the best Po’ boys or burgers, shrimp and grits or chicken and waffles, but their collective efforts have created the following list of dishes from the best Black-owned restaurants in Chicago.

If you know another restaurant making something worth a shout-out, post your photos and reviews on Wadju by downloading it from the App Store or with Google Play.

Essential eats at the best Black-owned restaurants in Chicago

The Po’ boys from Daisy’s Po-Boy and Tavern

daisy's po boy and tavern
Po Boy / Photo by Barry Brecheisen for Eater Chicago

If you’re looking for a great place to grab a casual bite, look no further than Daisy’s Po-Boy and Tavern.

Inspired by New Orleans, Daisy’s is has a bright, colorful ambiance, great hospitality and delicious menu items.

While the muffuleta, gumbo, and fried chicken all get top marks, the Po’ boys are where it’s at.

Served in either six or 12-inch formats (insider tip: more is always better), Daisy’s serves upwards of ten varieties of Po’ boys full of ingredients from across the Deep South.

From fried oysters and catfish to alligator and spicy sausage, some folks say the fried shrimp and roast beef are the best, but you can’t really go wrong here.

The Prime Brisket Sandwiches from Soul & Smoke

Prime Brisket Sandwich / Photo by Neil Burger for TimeOut

Among all the great places to get barbecue in Chicago, chef D’Andre Carter’s and wife Heather Bublick’s Soul & Smoke is a regular chart-topper.

Known for their obsession with dishes like Texas-style brisket and tender baby backs with a passion for celebrating their family roots, Soul & Smoke is an ever-expanding local chain for a reason: the food is fantastic.

Wadjers agree the best way to go is with the Prime Brisket Sandwich, which is served on a brioche bun and comes topped with their smoked prime brisket, bread & butter pickles and their original BBQ sauce.

It’ll give you a taste of their classic recipe for mouth-watering beef cooked low, slow and full of Southern flavor.

The Shrimp and Grits from Luella's Southern Kitchen

shrimp and grits from luella southern kitchen chicago
Shrimp and Grits / Photo by Jeff Marini for CondeNast Traveler

Don’t let the size of this small restaurant in Lincoln Square fool you, Luella’s Southern Kitchen is making some of the best Southern food in the city—if not the entire country.

Luella’s is chef Darnell Reed’s culinary love letter to his great-grandmother – and it comes through in the menu.

While the brunch at this North Side spot is also a big drawcard, the dinner is where Reed’s work shines the brightest. 

The shrimp and grits have Wadjers hearts – you can’t go wrong with a bowl of hearty, creamy cheese grits topped with barbecue shrimp.

The Shrimp Tibs from Demera

demara shrimp tibs
Shrimp Tibs / Photo by Demara & Toast

Demera and its chef and owner Tigist Reda has come a long way from entertaining a litany of guests at home with great cooking to the very first location at Broadway Street and Lawrence Avenue.

First introducing Chicagoans to Ethiopian cuisine in 2007, Demera has now expanded to multiple locations around the Windy City.

No matter where Demera lands, we hope the shrimp tibs will always be available, as it’s absolutely the best thing they’re serving.

For those who haven’t had the pleasure of trying one yet – shrimp gets sautéed with onions, tomatoes, garlic, jalapeños, awaze (a spicy sauce native to Ethiopia) and rosemary.

Normally it comes with a side of yellow split peas, but you need to order it up with spongy injera bread, too.

The Bocadillos from Bocadillo Market

bocadillo market chicago
Spanish Bocadillo / Photo by Bocadillo Market

Bocadillo Market has its name for a reason: the humble yet iconic Bocadillo sandwich here is just that good.

At Bocadillo Market, chef James Martin combines Spanish techniques with North African influences and Southern heritage to create something truly special.

Using delicious imported products like Spanish olives and cheese with house-fermented pickles, and fresh seasonal ingredients, this spot has some of the most uniquely amazing dishes in Chi-town.

The Elk Shank from Frontier

frontier chicago elk shank
The Elk Shank / Photo by Frontier

Chef Brian Jupiter’s menus at Frontier are just as the name implies: trailblazing and a little bit wild.

Frontier is leading the pack in Chicago through their bold inclusion of wild game with flavors from Louisiana.

This place also gets a lot of praise for being a warm and welcoming spot where customers can enjoy a lowkey, rainy day or catch up with friends over a game.

The smoked and braised Elk Shank with a red wine demi encapsulates the restaurant’s delicious ethos – it’s heavy, saucy, and luxurious.

While there are many drink and dish deals, Wadjers agree that the Elk Shank is the plate that should be at the center of every table. 

The Short Rib from Virtue

virtue short rib
Short Rib / Photo by Jeff Marini for Chicago Mag

Virtue is an exceptional restaurant in the Chicagoan landscape, serving the Southern American comfort food the city knows and loves but with artful touches from mastermind chef Damarr Brown, winner of the James Beard Award for Best Emerging Chef in 2023.

From learning to cook with his grandmother, mom, and aunt to running his own stupendous show, Brown has become a local treasure whose prowess in the kitchen needs no introduction—but if you need one, try the short rib.

While the meat can sometimes be too fatty to the point of overpowering its accompanying ingredients, the chef’s sides of creamed spinach, potatoes and a caramelized onion gravy balance it all out flawlessly.

The Fried Chicken from MacArthur's

macarthurs chicago fried chicken
Fried Chicken / Photo by Yelp

MacArthur “Mac” Alexander’s eponymous cafeteria-style restaurant in Chicago may change what it cooks up throughout the week, but you can always expect one thing – outstanding soul food.

Founded in 1997, MacArthur’s excels at delivering all kinds of classics, but when it’s available you need to order up the crispy-on-the-outside, juicy-on-the-inside fried chicken, as well as greens and macaroni and cheese on the side with peach cobbler for dessert.

We don’t doubt that everything on the menu is good here—that may very well be the reason why Obama himself was a regular here—but the fried chicken still stands out as Wadjers’ top choice. 

That’s our list of what you need to order at best Black-owned restaurants in Chicago, culled from reviews of dishes by Wadjers across the city.

Do you know a place that should be mentioned?

Download Wadju on the App Store or with Google Play, and start rating restaurants and dishes today.

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