13 Black-Owned Restaurants In Atlanta You Should Know  guide image


13 Black-Owned Restaurants In Atlanta You Should Know

Atlanta has many phenomenal Black-owned restaurants around the metro. Here are some popular (and some pioneering) spots worth checking out.

Black-owned restaurants have played pivotal roles in the city for decades, even in the hazy, nostalgic days of Freaknik. From barbecue and soul food to sushi, these restaurants have shaped Atlanta's culinary culture and turned the A into a thriving food scene. From the cultural landmarks to the ridiculously popular, here are a few spots worth checking out.


Gocha’s Breakfast Bar

With two Gocha Breakfast Bars, a tapas spot, and a Midtown hair salon, it’s clear that celeb hairstylist and restaurateur Gocha Hawkins has plenty of drive. You'll need to channel some of that same vigor to beat the weekend crowds down to her popular diners. But it’s not that we wouldn’t wait at the Cascade location for delicious gulf shrimp and flounder over jalapeño grits. We’d just rather eat the dish than be stuck dreaming about it in a line outside. The parsley potatoes are good enough to be a meal, but once they’re topped with sizzling steak, an egg, and parsley, the photogenic plate turns into something so euphoric you’ll have zero regrets about rushing out the house in sweats.

Opened in the late ’40s and a safe space for Dr. King in the ’60s, this undisputed ATL icon near the AUC has been run by the Gates family since the early ’80s. Over that time, there have been a few recurring rumbles about Busy Bee. The (closed-until-further-notice) dining room is too tight. The Saturday take-out line does stretch to Conyers. Yes, your bill will run $50 for two people. Still, no matter how many times we’ve complained under our breath—we’re well over 100 visits by now—we’ve never left unhappy. The best soul food restaurant in the city has its challenges, yes, but cooking excellent fried chicken, fish, and sides isn’t on that list.

Running things in the airport since 2009, the Asian and Southern fusion restaurant has long had people reconfiguring their flight schedules for a taste of their internationally-famous dishes. While the restaurant has seen a change of guard over the years, it’s still owned by Jackmont Hospitality and helmed by Chef Todd Richards. And now their new location on the BeltLine gives Atlantans a pass (without a boarding pass) to pop in for their popular sushi rolls, cold noodle salad, and first-class service and to swap the luggage-wielding Hartsfield travelers for the rollerbladers whipping by on the trail outside.

Opened in 2020 by two Morris Brown College alums, Breakfast At Barney’s quickly became the city’s premier brunch haunt. All-day breakfast options coupled with an upbeat day club vibe proved irresistible (Waffle House could never line their entrance with a velvet rope, upholster their booths in soft teal-green velvet, and sell $1K breakfast towers with Ace of Spades. Never).  But it’s really the menu of palate-pleasing items, which range from buttery, gold leaf-dressed pancakes to the barbecue salmon, that seal the deal.

Atlanta has its share of celebrity chef-driven restaurants. If you’re looking to impress a tourist with the city’s southern soul, head to LowCountry Steak from Chef G. Garvin (a born-and-bred Atlantan). The upscale Midtown restaurant gives you all the steakhouse favorites in addition to regional classics like Georgia shrimp and grits. These well-seasoned, creamy grits should serve as the definitive gospel, converting non-believers to grit fans one order at a time. And while the spacious, open setting and soft R&B tunes make you feel cozy, the white tablecloths remind you not to get too sloppy with that au jus. After all, you’ll want a clean space to photograph your peach cobbler dessert.

Twisted Soul in West Midtown is the first restaurant brainchild from acclaimed Atlanta chef Deborah VanTrece (Oreatha's and Serenidad), who fuses soul food classics with International flavors. We like to think of VanTrece like that wedding DJ who has an affinity for mixing those crowd-favorite soul tunes with interesting genres. Who knew Anita Baker and Imagine Dragons meshed well together? She did, and apparently also knew her hoisin-glazed oxtails or fried chicken with sweet potato chutney would hit the spot. We like swinging into Twisted for a boozy brunch with friends since the intimate dining space with its wood paneled interior feels like hanging out at someone’s home.

After the success of their College Park eateries (Virgil’s and Breakfast Boys), restaurateurs and power couple Juan and Gee Smalls opened their second Virgil’s location in West Midtown. Inspired by Gee’s Gullah Geechee roots, the menu celebrates the coastal Carolina/Georgia culture with highly-seasoned dishes like she-crab soup and shrimp and grits. And they name the dishes in their Creole pronunciations (we made the shameless error of thinking “poke chop” was some kind of Hawaiian-inspired raw fish dish and not pork meat chops. Be better.) Aside from the food, which we really like, their West Midtown patio is the perfect post-work retreat to unwind with a vibrant beachy mood, strong cocktails, and people-watching.

With hanging black-and-white images of civil rights pillars who are actual former patrons and the O’Jays’ “For the Love of Money” coming through the speakers, this Castleberry Hills classic now helmed by the family of trailblazing businessman Herman J. Russell paints a soul-soothing scene. But just when you start to settle into your catfish, candied yams, and cornbread, a Snoop Dogg song comes on. And wait, is that really a robot dropping off the plates? Yep, it sure is. Thankfully, this mix of trendy and traditional works because the food is so damn tasty.

Despite opening in 2020 when the entire restaurant industry was absorbing heavy blows , Apt 4B came out swinging—and bopping with a DJ booth setup near the entrance and a treasure trove of vinyl R&B and Hip-Hop throwbacks. Owner Sim Walker, who also heads up Ms. Icey’s Kitchen & Bar in Decatur, knows how to bring the crowds. In addition to the party energy, Apt 4B’s menu of Caribbean and Georgia soul food fusions like oxtail hummus and tamarind glazed short rib has also managed a firm hold on the attention of Atlanta’s scene-seeking crowds.

This plant-based burger chain’s vegan cheese-drenched takeover seemed to have happened all of a sudden, extending to new locations in New York and Alabama. While we’re thrilled we have several new ways to pull up for some Sloppy Toppy (it’s the name of the burger, chill), Atlantans still fondly reminisce on those three-hour waits outside the Slutty Vegan food truck in 2018. And since owner Pinky Cole is a Clark Atlanta alum, the city treats her like a hometown hero. Hit any of the five metro restaurants, but we like the always-jumping Edgewood spot, where we can order any one of the signature burgers on big fluffy sweet buns then take pictures in front of Pinky’s mural just across the street.

Husband and wife team Clarence and Donnica Boston are credited for bringing the first Black-owned brewery to Georgia with this East Atlanta Village location (their second is in East Lake). The brewery is combined with an oyster bar, giving patrons the unmatchable experience of slurping down great craft beer and a variety of oysters simultaneously. Try out their Collardfeller oysters, a Southern twist on the traditional Rockefeller with smoked turkey and collard greens or just grab a Rolling Dank IPA, sit at the long cafeteria style tables, and enjoy the party tunes thumping from the speakers. But don’t let the loud music fool you, Hippin’ Hops keeps the vibe chill and relaxed with soft lit neon lights and cornhole outside. 

Wanna know why Osiris Ballard and Anthony Sanders’ perfectly-positioned restaurant draws crowds across the street from the Georgia Aquarium almost every morning? Because, unlike a lot of places marketing their chicken and waffles, ABC understands that people also get hungry on days that don’t start with “S.” Equally impressive is the waitstaff’s efficiency in the simple, spacious dining room and the kitchen’s overall consistency. The gulf shrimp and creamy grits is always a satisfying trip to the bayou. Finishing the four-egg omelet remains a culinary feat. And there will never be a time when ordering a lobster tail or an egg-topped waffle off the secret menu isn’t cool.

For a restaurant to go from an after-church-lets-out stop in the ’80s to getting shouted out on Goodie Mob’s 1995 classic song “Soul Food,” it must have been great. For that same place to be relevant 25-plus years later, it must be timeless. Cascade’s all-day-dining destination is all of the above. Nary a person—not Cee-Lo Green, not your aunt Jean, nobody—will ever categorize the food here as greasy or salty. (We know they aim for healthier standards, but we’ve always thought the mac and cheese could use a smidge more butter.) But they will say the beef ribs are consistent, the pancakes are divine, and the dining room is always immaculate.

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photo credit: Mhandy Gerard

13 Black-Owned Restaurants In Atlanta You Should Know  guide image