If there’s ever a time to explore culture through food, this is it.
February is Black History Month—a time to recognize the contribution and achievements of those with African or Caribbean heritage and learn more about the effects of racism and how to challenge negative stereotypes. Because food and culture go hand-in-hand, we can help support our Black community by exploring various cuisines at our local Black-owned food businesses in the Bay Area.
“Black History Month brings together not only Blacks, but everyone, as they learn from different cuisines like West African food or soul food from the Southern states—and get inspired by it,” said Chef Eskender Aseged, owner of Radio Africa & Kitchen in San Francisco’s Bayview District. “What a better way to learn about a culture than with food?”
After working with renowned chefs throughout the Bay Area for more than 20 years, Aseged, originally from Ethiopia, started his first pop-up restaurant in his Mission District apartment in 2004. He served what he deemed “experimental, upscale Black-oriented food” to groups of friends. Over the next seven years, his pop-ups expanded into Bay Area cafés, and he dished up market-fresh, inspired Ethiopian cuisine until San Francisco’s Mayor’s office encouraged him to start a restaurant in the up-and-coming Bayview. He eventually opened Radio Africa in 2012.
Since then, Black History Month has always been an important time for Aseged at the restaurant—and over the last few years, one of his busiest—as he works to bring awareness about Black culture to his patrons and the community.
To celebrate Black History Month, here’s a list of a few of our favorite Black-owned eateries on the street food scene, including mobile dining and pop-ups, as well as restaurants that feature catering.
(This list (in alphabetical order by region) doesn’t include every Black-owned food business in the Bay Area.)
Here’s our ultimate list of Black-Owned mobile food and popup businesses around the Bay Area.
- Bayview Bistro: This food hub in the Bayview is offering Bayview Bistro Boxes with food from neighborhood pop-ups Big H BBQ (think fried chicken sandwiches and ribs) and Yes Pudding (serving banana and bread puddings in mason jars)
- Boug Cali: Creole cuisine specializing in po’ boys, subs and gumbo, with a food kiosk in the Chase Center, and another kiosk planned for La Cocina Municipal Marketplace in the Tenderloin this spring
- Eko Kitchen: Mobile business in SOMA serving Nigerian comfort food, offering catering, cooking classes, and pop-ups
- Fayala: Contemporary French and Mediterranean restaurant in the Financial District, with flavors from North Africa and the Middle East, offering catering
- J & D’s BBQ: Food truck and catering business serving classic American barbecue; stop by the truck at Park Social Food Park in Mission Bay this month
- Little Skillet: Southern restaurant in SOMA specializing in chicken and waffles, southern sweets, offering catering
- Mestiza Taqueria: Mexican and Filipino mobile dining business, offering catering
- Nia Soul: Southern, African and Caribbean inspired restaurant in Bayview, offering catering
- Nombe: Contemporary Japanese restaurant in the Mission, offering catering, cooking classes, and pop-ups
- Peaches Patties: Jamaican catering company serving Caribbean fare, specializing in Jamaican patties, based in the Mission
- Radio Africa & Kitchen: Ethiopian and American restaurant in Bayview, offering catering
- Two Jacks Nik’s Place: Southern comfort food restaurant in the Lower Haight, offering catering
- Z Zoul Cafe: Possibly the Bay Area’s first and only Sudanese restaurant in the Tenderloin, offering catering
- A Pleased Palate (Emeryville): Soul food pop-up, offering catering
- Big Country Kitchen (Concord, Oakland, Antioch): A catering company specializing in Southern fare
- Chakula Eats (Alameda): Caribbean, African, Southern fare pop-up
- CJ’s BBQ and Fish (Richmond): Barbecue restaurant, offering catering
- Dayo Plates (Alameda): Pop-up and catering business offering fare inspired by West Africa and The Philippines
- Everett and Jones BBQ (Oakland, Berkeley, and Hayward): American barbecue restaurant specializing in homemade beef link sausage, offering catering
- Healing Kitchen (Berkeley): Afro-vegan, plant-based catering, and meal delivery service
- Home of Chicken and Waffles (Oakland): Soul food restaurant specializing in chicken and waffles, offering catering
- Johnathan’s Sandwich House (Alameda): Cajun-style sandwich shop, offering catering
- KC’s BBQ: Kansas City-style barbecue restaurant, offering catering
- Kendejah (San Leandro): Liberian restaurant, offering catering and food truck services
- Kingston 11 Cuisine (Oakland): Jamaican restaurant, offering catering
- Lena’s Soul Food (Oakland): Soul food restaurant, offering catering
- The Lettuce Inn (Concord): Vegan restaurant, offering catering
- Mise en Place Events & Catering (Antioch): Catering company serving California cuisine
- Miss Ollie’s (Oakland): Caribbean soul food restaurant, offering catering
- Mississippi Catfish (Richmond): Seafood and barbecue restaurant, offering catering
- Pinx Catering (San Leandro): Catering company serving Southern-inspired fare
- Rob Ben’s (Emeryville): Comfort soul food restaurant, offering catering
- Souley Vegan (Oakland): Louisiana-style soul food vegan restaurant, offering catering
- Back a Yard (San Jose, Menlo Park, and Campbell): Caribbean restaurant, offering catering
- Carmen & Family BBQ (Fremont and Hayward): Jamaican and American Southern barbecue restaurant, offering catering
- Clementine’s (San Ramon): Southern restaurant, offering catering
- Coconuts (Palo Alto): Caribbean restaurant (sister restaurant to Back a Yard), offering catering
- The Cookout (Mountain View): Food truck and catering business, specializing in fish and chips
- Jonathan’s Fish & Chips (East Palo Alto): Southern seafood food truck
- Keith’s Chicken & Waffles (Daly City): Southern restaurant, offering catering
- LeYou Ethiopian (San Jose): Contemporary Ethiopian restaurant, offering catering
- Red’s House (Daly City): Jamaican restaurant, offering catering
- Reggae Pot (Los Gatos): Jamaican restaurant, offering catering
- Walia Ethiopian (San Jose): Ethiopian restaurant, offering catering
- Zeni Ethiopian Restaurant (San Jose): Ethiopian restaurant, offering catering
- Bariadelli Caribbean Gourmet Pizza (Santa Rosa): Caribbean cuisine and take-and-bake pizzas, offering catering and food-truck services
- Caribbean Spices (San Rafael): Haitian and Creole restaurant, offering catering
- Forrest Fire BBQ (San Rafael): Southern soul food, slow wood-smoked barbecue pop-up prepared outside at Marinwood Market in San Rafael Fridays-Sundays, as well as a mobile catering business
- Red Rose Catering (Santa Rosa and surrounding areas): A catering company specializing in Southern soul food
- Sonoma Crust (Santa Rosa): Waffle sandwiches and chicken, plus a mobile pizzeria, offering catering
- Soul Kitchen Marin (San Rafael): Soul food pop-up, offering takeout and pick-up
(For brick and mortar spots offering pandemic-friendly outdoor dining, including popular spots like Brown Sugar Kitchen, Minnie Bell, or International Smoke, check this list!)
Want to do more? Here’s how you can get involved.
Our commitment to supporting black-owned businesses goes beyond February.
Since last June, we’ve been striving to do our part to support Black business owners and the BIPOC communities. We made three commitments to become better allies to the Black community and help uplift local Black businesses — and we’re proud to share that we’ve surpassed our initial goals.
We know this is just the beginning to make a long-lasting change, but we’re proud that we are tackling our commitments to the communities we serve.
You can reach out to us to book a socially-distanced or at-home catering event using Black-owned businesses.
If you are a Black-owned food business—or have ideas about how Off the Grid can support Bay Area Black businesses—let us know.