Inspired by the local food she found while writing Cornbread & Collard Greens: How West African Cuisine & Slavery Influenced Soul Food—published in January—Deah Berry Mitchell wanted to put together a tour that would combine local food and black history. But she needed a partner, so she reached out to Dalila Thomas, a local food writer and blogger who also produced the “Chew on This” segment for CW33.
Thomas turned her down—at first. She thought better of it.
“I’m like, ‘This is super awesome,’” Thomas says now. “‘I’d be crazy not to get involved in this. It has the potential to be something amazing. And it’s Deah.’”
Soon, The Soul of Dallas Food & Black History Bus Tour was born. The two take guests on a five-hour tour restaurants and businesses that can range from a Pan-African bookstore to a black-owned popcorn shop. In the past, they’ve touched Freedman’s Cemetery, the Juanita Craft Home, Delightful Sweets by Mary in the Grow DeSoto Market Place, and Kessler Baking Studio. The bus occasionally drops by a spot that isn’t actually black-owned but has had a positive impact on the black community, such as Bonton Farms. For the most part, the trip highlights black business owners, chefs, and history.
“We see a lot of experiences that are entertainment-based and straight-up booze and food,” says Thomas. “But there’s so much more in any city, especially Dallas, to offer.”
The next tour, scheduled on July 27 with tickets on sale now, puts a focus on barbecue. It will be the seventh tour. Attendees can expect to feed their soul as much as their stomachs. “This is for anyone interested in learning about black culture in Dallas,” says Thomas. “It’s for those who are looking to be fed in more ways than one.”
Mitchell and Thomas are keeping most stops a surprise. But they’ll allow these two: Smokey John’s Bar-B-Que and Val’s Cheesecake. The tour launches from and ends at the African American Museum of Dallas in Fair Park.
“I want people to be able to take away an appreciation that they didn’t have before for black culture, newfound knowledge, and new friendships,” Thomas says. “We want people to leave feeling good and feeling full mentally, physically, and emotionally.”