Editor’s note: We’re still frequently adding to this guide, so please be patient as we continue growing this resource for North Texas.
Two years ago, the country was forced to confront its past and its present. Dallas was no different. Here we protested and marched. We had hard conversations about how we’ve been failing Black residents. Importantly, we thought about we can and need to do better in the future.
Buying a meal from a Black-owned restaurant—or food truck or bar or pop-up—might feel tiny in the grand scheme of systemic injustice and racial discrimination. But it is something. (Hopefully it is among myriad somethings.) It’s also immediate. That one purchase directly impacts a local business, and the great thing is you can keep doing that one small thing over and over again.
After all, food has always been political. The pandemic has laid bare the ways in which some of the most vulnerable in our communities work in the food sector: the people working in close proximity in meat processing facilities; the millions of former hospitality workers, servers, bartenders, cooks; those who pluck fresh vegetables from the soil that will eventually nourish someone; the food banks facing unprecedented demand and hunger; small businesses scrambling for grants and partially forgivable government loans. As much as it’s more comfortable to believe otherwise, it erases all the complex layers of our food system.
And, yes, they can be such delicious layers. To that end, in 2020, I made a public spreadsheet of Black-owned food and drink businesses in Dallas and in the surrounding burbs. It wasn’t particularly fancy, but many people found it useful. (It’s still useful, by the way.) So much so that I collaborated with Justice Kitchen to make it into a map tool. And folks from Fort Worth and beyond were asking if I had a list for their cities or other nearby parts of Texas. Alas, I didn’t then and still don’t.
What I do have is a guide to our Black-owned restaurants and bars in the Dallas area1. I think this is deservedly better option than a spreadsheet. A small thing, as it is, but a step in the right direction toward a future where everyone feels supported.
Black Chefs and Restaurants in D Magazine
Black Restaurant Week Returns in March 2022
Black Restaurant Week rolled through Dallas in March 2021. Warren Luckett founded Black Restaurant Week with Falayn Ferrell and Derek Robinson to disrupt the systemic barriers faced by Black-owned restaurants. “Most restaurant owners use personal savings and credit cards, and when they are getting loans, interest rates are typically higher,” says Ferrell. That makes matters especially tough “when you already have such a slim operating margin.” Most businesses don’t have PR folks to share news, events, or specials, either; social media can be a chore and a barrier, too. And according to data collected by the University of California-Santa Cruz, 41 percent of Black-owned businesses have shuttered since February 2020 (but have since rebounded a bit), compared to 17 percent of White-owned businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Black Restaurant Week Returns March 18–27
Stayed tuned for event details.
It’s Tiffany Derry’s World! We’re Just Lucky to Live in It.
What can we say that hasn’t already been said about the celebrity chef powerhouse? When Tiffany Derry isn’t on screen judging up-and-coming chefs, she’s opening new restaurants. It’s been a whirlwind couple of years for the Dallas chef who’s already won well-deserved praise, local and national alike, for Roots Southern Table. She opened the restaurant n Farmers Branch in 2021. Read about what makes Derry an exemplary star in our constellation of Dallas restaurants.
Meridian Is Our Best New Restaurant of 2021
Meridian is situated on the 300-acre compound of The Village Dallas. The bubble might feel a little contrived, and it is. But dispel that notion as you walk into the low-slung, rectilinear restaurant that is the jewel of the place. There is nothing contrived about this. What you find in this magical cube of a restaurant is hard to wrap your arms around and at the same time simple: one of the city’s top chefs at the height of his game, cooking with his whole heart and all of his skill.
- Meridian at The Village Dallas Readies Its Debut
- Restaurant Review: Meridian’s Modern Brazilian Is a Gift for Dallas Diners
- Meridian Is D Magazine’s Best New Restaurant of 2021
Editor’s note: Executive chef Junior Borges does helm the restaurant, but he doesn’t own it.
Meet the Black-Owned Restaurants Fueling Dallas’ Vegan Scene
Before lab-made meats began appearing on menus, a handful of restaurants and food trucks popped up to serve people with plant-forward preferences. We can’t help but notice that the majority of these vegan and vegetarian businesses are black-owned. It’s no coincidence: precolonial Africans historically relied on plant-based diets, and a new generation is taking note of the health benefits. Together, these local chefs are proving plant-centered options can be delicious. Jackfruit barbecue, anyone?
Where to Eat & Drink
- Soul Food
- Desserts and Bakeries
14925 Midway Rd. #101, Addison
DJ’s, which stands for owners Deanna and James Price, is a meat lover’s restaurant. “My husband is a steak man and he always wanted him a steak house,” says Deanna Price. Aside from steak, other favorites include lamb chops, side of dressing, and Cajun-spiced cabbage—“it does have a little kick to it,” she says.
5650 Village Glen Dr., Northeast Dallas
Junior Borges’ love letter to his Brazilian heritage includes a gorgeous bread course, beach-inspired snacks, and hearth-roasted mains like a sumptuous whole octopus or the coconut-rich moqueca (seafood stew) inspired by his grandmother. (Not owned by Borges, but he helms the kitchen, many kitchens in fact, in The Village.)
6309 N President George Bush Hwy., #8101, Garland
Chef Kevin Ashade might be best known for his televised smackdown of food celeb Bobby Flay (yes, you can get the coq au vin that bested the TV chef). But Ashade’s French-honed skills shine across his globe-spanning menu of jerk-spice lamb shank, African jollof risotto, plus much more.
Roots Southern Table
13050 Bee St., Suite 160, Farmers Branch
Tiffany Derry’s tribute to the South reminds us of what grace and care one can bring to Southern food. The triumph of the duck fat-fried chicken that has been her calling card for years lands on the table in magnificent pieces. How do you not also adore the cast-iron skillet cornbread served with strawberry-rhubarb preserves and smoked butter? Or the bitter greens swimming in tangy potlikker, made lip-smackingly rich with pork, into which we dripped drops of pepper-infused vinegar?
2533 McKinney Ave., Uptown
This restaurant that replaced Nickel & Rye on McKinney Avenue is part lounge, part restaurant that serves both Southern-style comfort food as well as vegan fare.
14833 Midway Rd. #105, Addison
Another Price family restaurant, which is in the same plaza as DJ’s, Vinetti’s is a great spot for pasta, stiff martinis, and live jazz music.
Brunch & Breakfast
5014 Ross Ave., Old East Dallas
Wrap unexpected items like fried catfish, mac and cheese, and greens in a tortilla and you’re bound to get a cult following. Jesse Washington got just that. After many pop-ups, Washington finally has a home base for his brunch creations. Opening Soon in 2022.
Soiree Coffee Bar
320 Singleton Blvd., Trinity Groves
At this coffeehouse, brunch is a scene. DJs play music in one corner. Friends are toasting glasses of mimosas in another. Drinks are named for jazz songstresses. Meanwhile, chef Joy Darden serves up soulful plates, like shrimp and grits.
True Kitchen & Kocktails
1933 Elm St., Downtown
Burgers, Sandwiches, & Fried Goods
1722 N. Market Street, Historic West End
This growing boutique burger franchise with a full-service bar is far from a mere burger joint. Owner Wesley Williams’ menu of stacked—and seriously, stacked; you can choose from two or three proteins plus toppings—burgers are as big as they are flavorful.
Hall’s Honey-Fried Chicken
4105 W. Camp Wisdom Rd., South Oak Cliff; 1407 Medical District Dr., Oak Lawn
The name of this family-run chicken joint comes from the bronzed color of the crispy chicken—so don’t expect honey, unless you pour it on top. Do expect salty, savory, perfectly fried pieces of chicken over a bed of french fries, pickles, and jalapeños. It’s simple and it’s executed perfectly. You’ll want to eat it on the trunk of your car.
4029 Crutcher St., Old East Dallas
Don’t look for a dainty burger here. Halal beef patties are crammed with caramelized onions, jalapeño, and mozzarella, or perhaps strawberry jam and goat cheese, to make tall, hearty burgers that may make your jaw whimper but your stomach happy.
TJ’s Catfish & Wings
4261 W. Green Oaks Blvd., Suite 506, Arlington
38 locations and counting
Cajun, Creole, & Caribbean
920 S Harwood St., Suite 174, Dallas Farmers Market
For something hearty and unctuous, try the oxtails—if they’re serving it that day.
Damian’s Cajun Soul Cafe
2001 SE Green Oaks Blvd., Arlington
Elaine’s Jamaican Kitchen
2717 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd., Fair Park
From curried goat to jerk-spiced chicken, this Caribbean restaurant abounds with flavor.
The Island Spot
309 W. Jefferson Blvd., Oak Cliff
Tropical cocktails atop the bar. Upbeat reggae thrumming through the speakers. Beef patties and jerk-spiced wings and sweet fried plantains and curried goat and, and, and—there’s really nothing from Jamaican menu that doesn’t make you want it all.
One Love Lounge
2315 S. Cooper St., Arlington
Jamaica Gates Caribbean Cuisine
1020 W. Arkansas Ln., Arlington
Shells and Tails 2 Geaux
Food truck and catering, based in DeSoto
Taste of the Islands
909 W. Spring Creek Pkwy., Ste. 300, Plano
The Caribbean-influenced Taste of the Islands is easy to overlook in the corner of a Plano strip mall. The left side contains a stage, a bar striped in the colors of the Guyanese flag, and a dance floor that fills up on Saturday nights for reggae and improv comedy shows. On the right side is the restaurant and a market stocked with Jamaican sodas and spices. At the counter, order fried potato balls, stewed oxtails, and doubles. The doubles, a popular street food, are made with slightly sweet curried chickpeas sandwiched between two tender pieces of turmeric-seasoned flatbread. You’ll want to pick up sweets—vanilla pound cake and rum fruitcake—to go.
12101 Greenville Ave., Suite 105, Lower Greenville
One of the newest Ethiopian restaurants in Dallas, Desta distinguishes itself by offering a contemporary take on the cuisine. Modern platings do away with the communal trays that most people enjoy, but hats off to the owners for introducing variety into this already diverse genre.
2189 E. Buckingham Rd., Richardson
Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant & Bar
9191 Forest Ln.
For those of you who have yet to experience the gustatory joy that is Ethiopian cuisine, this spot provides one of the finest examples of the style that we’ve found in the city. If you’re new to the genre, order one vegetarian sample and one meat sampler in order to receive a well-rounded mix of wot (spicy) and alecha (mild) items. Use the spongy injera bread as your utensil to scoop bundles of food into your mouth.
7989 Belt Line Rd., Suite 110, Far North Dallas
Come to this quiet cafe in North Dallas for breakfast and order the combo, which is like chilaquiles with an African twist. Because this is an Eritrean restaurant, you’ll also find panini, pasta, and breaded cutlets on the menu. The boxegna, a cream puff with a delicate coat of chocolate, makes for an airy ending.
Queen of Sheba
14875 Inwood Rd., Addison
Long live the queen! And this shrine to Ethiopian food, especially the multicourse Queen’s Dinner. Don’t worry about the mess of eating with your hands; the meal comes with a lavish hand-washing ceremony.
8989 Forest Ln., Northeast Dallas
Dallas is home to many fine, veggie-friendly Ethiopian restaurants like Sheba’s. Here you get exotically spiced red lentil stew and injera (a spongy flatbread) mixed with tomatoes and onions and tossed in a lemon vinaigrette. The tikil gomen wot—cabbage, potatoes, and carrots cooked with garlic and turmeric—is hearty enough for all appetites. No one goes home hungry here.
2301 N O’Connor Rd., Irving
Brandon Waller, one of North Texas’ stalwarts of the vegan scene, has long served his plant-based fare out of the Dallas Farmers Market and through pop-ups in the Dallas area. Now he’s set down roots at his grab-and-go spot with healthful meals and ingredients.
Read more: Brandon Waller of Bam’s Vegan Shares Recipes Fit for the Thanksgiving Table (or Everyday)
830 Mayfield Rd., Ste. 600, Grand Prairie
Amiya Cleveland started her career like many others do: inside her home kitchen, cooking something nutritious for her family. What began as a healing, plant-based diet for her family turned into meal planning for clients who likewise needed sustenance sans meat.
Recipe Oak Cliff
1831 S. Ewing Ave., South Dallas
Known for her juices and wellness shots, Tisha Crear attracts all walks of life to Recipe Oak Cliff. The food she’s dishing out is as diverse as her customers, like her jackfruit sandwich topped with a slaw of purple cabbage, butternut squash, zucchini, and vegan mayonnaise, and served with a highly addictive green banana salad.
TLC Vegan Kitchen
520 Shepherd Dr., Ste. 10, Garland
With no dining room but a robust ghost kitchen offering curbside pickup, Troy Gardner pours his culinary training into vegan comfort food. Think chicken-fried “steak” with garlic mashed potatoes and pizzas with toppings that range from oyster mushrooms to cashew-based faux mozzarella.
Vegan Food House
832 W Seventh St., North Oak Cliff
Dallas Farmers Market
Jovan Cole taps into a wide variety of cuisines, including Mexican, Italian, and soul food, at his stand in the Dallas Farmers Market. Fans return for his vegan crunchy wrap supreme.
Baby Back Shak
1800 S. Akard St., The Cedars
Owner and longtime pitmaster Clarence Cohens honors his hometown by serving the best Memphis-style ribs in Dallas. His secret? The special blend of herbs and spices in his family’s rub recipe, which you can buy at the restaurant. Like the ribs, his brisket is cooked low and slow over a combination of hickory, pecan, mesquite, oak, and (sometimes) fruit woods.
Evan’s Bar B Que and Catfish
1100 E Pleasant Run Rd., Suite 120, DeSoto
618 S Westmoreland Rd., North Oak Cliff
Meshack’s Bar-Be-Que Shack
240 E Avenue B, Garland
Hickory is by far the dominant cooking wood for barbecue in this area, but Travis Mayes chooses the state tree of Texas (pecan) to fuel his smoker. Ordering is done by shouting into a small screened portion of a soot-covered window. Then a figure appears in the smoky concrete box to hand over a brown sack full of perfectly smoked meat.
1971 Singleton Blvd., West Dallas; 810 Oriole Blvd, Duncanville
This casual family-owned restaurant has direct ties to the legendary Hardeman’s barbecue restaurant that opened in the late 1940s. As the Hardeman’s mini-chain empire expanded to several locations, the West Dallas spot opened in the late ’60s. In 1990, the Hardeman family sold the restaurant to their in-laws, the Odoms, who are still kicking out luscious, smoke-kissed, fall-off-the-bone-tender ribs.
Off the Bone Barbecue
1734 Botham Jean Blvd., The Cedars
Dwight Harvey and his wife, Rose, run this cozy spot that attracts a lunchtime crowd of nearby workers. They come for the baby back ribs with a slightly sweet sauce, moist brisket with a dark crust, and deep-fried corn. Rose’s pecan pie is silky as you please.
Phat Girlz BBQ
107 S Main St, Cedar Hill
Smokey Joe’s BBQ
At this lauded joint right off R.L. Thornton Freeway hickory imparts a lovely, light smokiness to pork ribs and chicken, while brisket gets cooked over oak. And never, under any circumstances, skip the sides here. They’re divine. 6403 S. R L Thornton Fwy., South Oak Cliff
Smokey John’s Bar-B-Que
Owners, pitmasters, and brothers Juan and Brent Reaves are the energetic backbone of Smokey John’s. Whether they’re deep-frying Reese’s or smoking turkey legs at the State Fair of Texas or helping you throw the best cookout with their hot links, ribs by the pound, or catfish baskets—it’s all sure to please the whole family. 1820 W Mockingbird Ln., Northwest Dallas
Lo-Lo’s Chicken and Waffles
1201 E. State Hwy. 114, Ste. 100, Grapevine
Chicken and waffles may be part of the moniker, but it’s not all Lo-Lo’s offers. If you find your way to this Southlake spot, be prepared to sift through a menu full of tempting options. Case in point: Uncle Brotha’s Shrimp and Grits. What makes these special are the shrimp, which are marinated in buttermilk, lightly fried, and served with bacon, scallions, and cheese. Aunt Hattie’s salmon croquette platter is also worth the splurge. Wash down whatever you choose with a glass of sweet Kool-Aid. Don’t skip the catfish beignets.
Ms. Mary’s Southern Kitchen
605 N Denton Tap Rd., Coppell
Baked chicken, meat loaf, pork chops (fried, smothered, or grilled), and Mississippi farm-raised catfish keep customers coming back. So do sides like cucumber and tomato salad and okra. But the real draw here are owner Mary Davis’ desserts. Save room for bread pudding with rum sauce, homemade cakes and pies (whole or by the slice), fried pies, cobblers, or banana pudding.
Roots Chicken Shak
7800 Windrose Ave., Plano
Tiffany Derry’s duck fat fried chicken reigns at her fast-casual chainlet inside Legacy Food Hall.
South Dallas Cafe
7035 Marvin D. Love Fwy., South Oak Cliff
At South Dallas Cafe, you have to stick with the stick-to-your-ribs classics like smothered pork chops or smothered turkey legs, homemade dressing, mac and cheese, and hot water cornbread. “Everybody don’t have hot water cornbread, we were the first to do the signature hot water cornbread,” says owner Deanna Price. Well, there you go. The cornbread flag has been planted.
580 W Arapaho Rd #406, Richardson
Owner Paulette Johnson moved Trucker’s Cafe from South Dallas to Richardson, but her soul food stands out in any neighborhood. Items range from boiled neck bones and baked oxtails to the Big Mama (a fried or grilled chicken breast topped with lettuce, onion, pickle, tomato, cheese, and mayo) and massive Jack Knife (a 5-pound burger—one patty, y’all—with all the fixins).
Aunt Irene’s Kitchen
3309 S Malcolm X Blvd., Fair Park
Savorite Southern Cuisine
2400 K Avenue Suite B, Plano
Distinctive Vines Wine Lounge
1110 S. Akard St., The Cedars
Co-owned by three former Dallas ISD classmates, Distinctive Vines dwells inside a building that formerly housed a Piggly Wiggly supermarket. But the only pork you’ll find here is on a charcuterie board. Wines skew heavily West Coast, with some Spanish and Italian pours here and there.
Shoals Sound & Service
2614 Elm St., Suite 110, Deep Ellum
Walking into this bar is like walking into a friend’s living room. Except your friend has excellent taste in vintage décor, an impressive record collection, and a fully-stocked bar. From the latter comes pitch-perfect caipirinhas, palomas, and other classic cocktails alongside a more-than-good vegan menu. (Get the Chop Cheez, I’m begging you.)
2523 McKinney Ave., Uptown
Here you’ll find, you guessed it, smoked turkey legs (upwards of 1,500 per day). In March and April, the restaurant tries to bring in as much fresh Louisiana crawfish as it can.
Blu Ice Daiquiris
7401 Matlock Rd., Suite 115, Arlington
Kessler Baking Studio
1129 N. Beckley Ave., Oak Cliff
James Beard-nominated Outstanding Baker Clyde Greenhouse makes the best shortbread cookies this side of the Trinity River, and the rainbow sprinkle sugar cookies are perfect for mailing yourself a box of treats to the office on your birthday.
The Cookie Crave
519 Locust St., Denton
Owner-baker Veronica Powell has severe nut allergies. Her son is intolerant to dairy and gluten. And yet, here she is, with a bakeshop filled with goodies everyone can (safely) enjoy.
The Cookie Society
9320 Dallas Pkwy., Suite 160, Frisco
Founded by wife and husband Marissa and Jeff Allen, who’s a former NFL offensive lineman, this Frisco bakery goes beyond the classics. Find cookie flavors like salted caramel, cookies and cream, and banana pudding. But, yes, there’s traditional chocolate chip, too. Even better: they ship.
337 W. Jefferson Blvd., Oak Cliff
Sisters Shinita Briggs, Darla McCuen, and Kim Haynes have been serving up their addictive cakes, cookies, and brownies since 2002. They first opened their doors in DeSoto but closed in 2004. After a lengthy break, they gave it a shot again in 2015, this time in Mesquite. And now, Kookie Haven has a storefront on West Jefferson Boulevard in Oak Cliff. Finally feeling settled, the sisters are trying a new venture inspired by something they’ve been doing all along.
2810 Greenville Ave., Lower Greenville