HOUGuide

13 Great Black-Owned Restaurants In Houston

The Black-owned spots around the city that you should know about.
sausage, baked potato, and sides

photo credit: Richard Casteel

Black-owned restaurants have been a crucial part of the Houston dining scene for decades. From barbecue to soul food to vegan brunch, these places have helped shape H-Town’s culinary culture. Essential to the makeup of the city, you’ll find Black-owned restaurants all over Houston. So whether you want to hit up the decades-old community landmarks, or venture to the bougie date night spots, here are a few places to check out.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Liz Silva

Jamaican

Brays Oaks

$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight DinnerSerious Take-Out OperationDining Solo
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While it’s primarily a takeout operation, Cool Runnings Jamaican Grill is no one-trick pony. One portion of the Brays Oaks restaurant is filled with people waiting on to-go orders of ackee and saltfish or jerk wings. But we prefer having our meal in the deceptively large dining room so we can take our time with the food. Stick with the classics—the brown stew chicken falls off the bone with a loving glance, every piece of jerk meat makes our eyes water, and the cocoa bread is fluffy enough to take a nap on. Plus, if you come by on the right night, you might find yourself having dinner while DJs spin classic dancehall hits.

Alfreda’s Soul Food has been serving hearty Southern classics in the Third Ward since 1965. The quiet, counter-service joint is usually filled with folks making to-go orders (and sneaking a few bites of their food before heading out the door), so there’s plenty of room for having your meal in the dining room. A tray at Alfreda’s consists of one entree, three sides, and a slab of cornbread, and our ultimate plate consists of smothered turkey wings, syrupy-sweet candied yams, and mashed potatoes covered in gravy. If you’re feeling extra hungry—or want to add some padding to your inevitable leftovers— get a side of smoky black-eyed peas, too.


Lo-fi and relaxed, Bourbon Sizzler, a Caribbean restaurant in the Medical Center, runs a steady takeout operation, so the dining room is mostly free for you to hunker down with a hearty meal, whether you come for a quick lunch or a much-needed comfort dinner. The best dishes here are the jerk chicken that’s coated in scotch bonnet, the oxtail with enough rice and peas to grab every drop of gravy, and a spicy beef patty that might make your eyes water.


You go to the Nigerian restaurant Jollof Rice King in Upper Kirby on a mission. A mission to stuff as much of the smoky, spiced jollof into your body as is physically possible. The spice from the suya skewers might turn your meal into mission impossible, but any of the malt drinks will help cool your tongue down enough to finish the job. The space is mostly just a counter with a few tables on the side, but truly, all you need to focus on is your plate of jollof rice.


A dependable spot for classic Southern comfort food, Houston This Is It Soul Food has been in the Third Ward since 1959. When you order a plate, you choose your entree and sides elementary school cafeteria-style—except instead of square pizza, you’ll find rows of tender pork chops, gooey macaroni and cheese, sweet and spicy candied yams, and crispy fried chicken. Carrying your food back to your table feels significantly less intimidating than elementary school, plus we love the intimate patio outside.


photo credit: Liz Silva

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The Acadian and Cajun restaurant Prey in the Galleria neighborhood was designed for the romantics—it’s the sort of place that inspires you to sit on the same side of the booth as your date. During the day there’s plenty of natural light, but at night the lamps glow just enough for you to see your date and the spicy seafood gumbo when it hits your table. Canoodle over creamy crawfish fondue, and watch the sunset through the floor-to-ceiling windows.


Burns Original BBQ in Acres Homes has been providing Houstonians with some straightforward Texas-style barbecue for over 40 years. Whether you go traditional and have a few slices of brisket and some sides on your tray, or get a baked potato covered in chopped beef that requires two hands to lift, the barbecue at Burns Original is smoky, well-executed, and hard to forget. And whether you’re with pals eating on the porch picnic tables, or having a solo feast in your car, snappy sausage links and dirty rice still hit all the same.


If you prefer your brunch and cold brew with a side of blues vinyl records for sale, then the vegan cafe Mo’ Better Brews in the Museum District is where to go. This place serves brunch daily, and on most days, people will be dining on the adorable tree-lined patio. Mo’ Better Brews’ menu is long and strong—so you can have a crispy boudain sushi roll, fried mushrooms doused in hot honey, and a vegan breakfast sandwich with donut buns (and powdered sugar, of course) all in the same meal.


The Ethiopian restaurant Blue Nile has the yabeg key wot harissa-spiced lamb you’re looking for, along with endless injera bread and spicy lentils. Decked out with high, timber-lofted ceilings, flowing white curtains, and colorful grass baskets, Blue Nile feels like an oasis nestled in the River Oaks neighborhood. The best move is to order sampler plates, especially the vegetable-focused one with spicy and savory stewed lentils and tangy greens. Go here with a big group of friends so you can try nearly everything.


When you need a place to have a meal with your family (born or chosen), there’s Lucille’s, a restaurant serving Southern comfort food in the Museum District with a multi-story dining room that feels like the inside of someone’s home. A meal at Lucille’s is like a fancy Sunday dinner, with smothered hanger steak with green beans, and yardbird topping fluffy mashed potatoes and briny collard greens. Come by for dinner when you have an issue that only fried green tomatoes can fix, or swing by for brunch on the weekends.


The charming barbecue spot Gatlin’s BBQ feels too good for an unassuming strip mall in Garden Oaks. At any point, you’ll see Mama Gatlin tending to the front counter, bringing food to folks’ tables, cracking jokes with regulars, and even finding time to help people bring leftovers to their cars. You come to Gatlin’s BBQ for consistent, juicy barbecue, Southern-style sides, and an atmosphere that makes you feel like you stumbled into a kind neighbor's cookout.


photo credit: Michael Anthony

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Go to Bungalow in downtown to impress someone, either with the level of hospitality from the jump—the host stand starts you off with a glass of bubbly—or the plush and fancy-feeling inside. Order cocktails with flavors like jammy peach and cognac, small plates of fried calamari and wagyu meatballs, and a steak smothered in hickory butter. Or opt for the whole fried snapper, plated upright, and watch everyone stare as the fish makes its way to your table. Go for a special date night, for $9 cocktails at Happy Hour, or an over-the-top celebration with the girlies.


Triple J’s Smokehouse in Trinity Gardens is a vibe first, and a barbecue take out spot second. The northeast spot almost always has a line and a loud Montell Jordan playlist bumping through the speakers. Go here to not only dance while you wait, but also for some of the best spicy boudin, loaded baked potatoes, and cookout sides in the city. Take everything to go, ‘cause almost everyone else is, or flip open your styrofoam box full of smoked meats at a counter seat. Then dig into some ribs and homemade sausage while taking in Triple J’s preferred artwork: hundreds of ironic, silly, and mom-level-joke signs.

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