10 New Black-Owned Restaurants In Chicago
photo credit: Kim Kovacik
If you’re looking for some new Black-owned restaurants, bars, and cafes to check out, here are some exciting ones that have recently opened. From a Caribbean spot in Dunning to a gluten-free soul food restaurant in Avondale, these are the spots you should know about.
Updated February 3, 2024: Tesfa Ethiopian Cuisine
Daisy’s has done more to improve our quality of life over the past six months than a team of personal assistants ever could. Not only does this New Orleans-inspired restaurant in Hyde Park have the best po’boys in Chicago, but it’s also a blast. The spacious counter-service restaurant has live music and boozy batch cocktails that aren’t too sweet. Along with po’boys, the menu has classics like fried chicken and a rich seafood gumbo with a little crab claw cheerfully poking out. And while Daisy’s is extremely casual, it’s still a great place to celebrate a birthday, promotion, anniversary, or your fictitious personal assistant’s birthday.
The original Soulé in West Town (which is temporarily closed) is one of our favorite restaurants in the city. And we’re happy to report that Soulé 2, their new location in North Lawndale, has that same Feel Good Factor™. This is partly due to the upbeat atmosphere and friendly servers, but also because the menu of delicious soul food (like shrimp and grits, fried green tomatoes, and peach cobbler) is identical to the original. What’s different is that the space is much larger, and has a full bar. Whether or not you actually need to be comforted, the comfort food here will get the job done.
Tesfa started as a small Ethiopian spot in Uptown but moved to this larger location in Edgewater. Their new upgraded space has white brick, sparkly chandeliers, and a wooden bar. But they've also kept some charming signature touches, like a TV that plays an endless stream of Ethiopian music videos, a mural of the restaurant's logo, and incredible Ethiopian food. Bring a bunch of friends and get ready to dig into large injera platters full of dishes like zesty tomato sauce, spicy fish filets, and a peppery doro wot with fall-off-the-bone chicken.
Provaré is a fun, brightly lit Creole and Italian spot in West Town. This restaurant has an R&B playlist that will remind you of the greatness that is '90s Usher, a speakeasy hiding behind very convincing shelves, and food that makes you put your hand up to silence the table so you can have a private moment with the housemade pasta. Standout dishes include cheesy spinach and artichoke dip filled with shrimp and crawfish, shrimp Hennessy scampi, and bone-in lamb chops with corn.
“I want to sleep with this under my pillow.” That’s what came out of our mouth halfway through our bowl of savory short rib and creamy grits at Chesa’s Bar and Bistro. The gluten-free, Southern restaurant in Avondale serves the kind of comforting dishes that make us look forward to–or at least not hate—Chicago’s 30-degree days. The menu has the aforementioned short rib and grits, seafood gumbo with an ideal amount of gentle heat, and buttery wagyu sliders on buns that we wouldn’t know were gluten-free if it wasn’t our job to know these things. The space is bright and casual, with a few TVs over the bar and a hip-hop playlist that makes you remember how much you like 2000’s Nelly.
Aside from classics like fried chicken and shrimp and grits, this new Lawndale soul food restaurant also has fusion-y dishes like masala-braised pot roast, and Korean style rib tips. You can order a la carte, or get the “grand tasting” for $59, which comes with three entrees and a nonalcoholic drink (they’re BYOB). The restaurant is very small, and also very cute, with velvet chairs and gold accents all over the place. But the intimate space means that Soul Food Lounge doesn’t accept walk-ins, so if you want their delicious truffle mac and cheese, you need to make a reservation.
Fifty-One 50 Fusion is a new soul food restaurant in Auburn Gresham. Their long menu has an eclectic mix of dishes like chicken with red velvet waffles, cilantro lime catfish, Cajun chicken pasta, and Italian beef egg rolls. They have a secluded dining room (it’s hidden behind a closed door that the owner will unlock for you) but we actually like this place for carryout. The egg rolls and chicken wings stay crispy all the way home, and we’re firm believers that they taste better if you eat them in sweatpants on your couch.
You come to Koto Hibachi for one reason: to eat heaping portions of fried rice topped with perfectly cooked proteins like shrimp, chicken, and lobster. And while the buttery-fried rice is the main event here, this casual, counter-service spot in Bridgeport also has a selection of maki (like a shrimp tempura roll) that’s also quite tasty. There are a few tables if you want to eat in for a quick meal, but this place is mainly a to-go operation.
TAS Eatery is a new cafe and Caribbean restaurant in Dunning. You can pick up baked goods and coffee at the counter up front (which is perfect for a quick lunch break) but the back dining room is a full-service restaurant that can seat about 40 people. There, you can order from a menu of dishes like jerk lamb chops, savory pumpkin soup, escovitch, and probably get to chat with the friendly chef and owner. Come here for a quick lunch, or a relaxed weeknight dinner.
A few things to know about 1308 in Goose Island: they’re not open on the weekends, they close at 9pm, and this is exactly the kind of chill place you want to decompress after forgetting to turn your microphone off during this morning’s company-wide Zoom. This little bar and restaurant calls itself a “speak eatery”, which is kind of spot on. It’s hidden in the courtyard of a small office building, only has about 30 seats, and serves outstanding cocktails and great Southern-inspired food. Standout dishes include crispy-on-the-outside-soft-on-the-inside hot water cornbread served with blueberry butter and pimento cheese, and an absurdly good plate of grits and sweet roasted carrots topped with crunchy dukkah.