20 Black-Owned Restaurants In South LA guide image

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20 Black-Owned Restaurants In South LA

Use this list to make “Buying Black” a regular habit.

Since the early 20th century, this massive chunk of LA County has been home to some of LA’s most legendary Black-owned businesses. Noteworthy restaurants can be found on virtually every block, like a Creole place with a live jazz band on weekends, a legendary hot chicken joint from a Nashville transplant, a Southern kitchen with one of the best backyard patios in the city, or a Belizean spot that always feels like a party. You'll never run out of amazing Black-owned restaurants to try in South LA, and just when you think you’ve done it, another healthy cafe, coffee shop, soul food spot, or gumbo shack will probably have just opened up. So consider this list a starting point, and use it to make “Buying Black” a regular habit. 

THE SPOTS

photo credit: South LA Cafe

South LA Cafe review image

South LA Cafe

$$$$

1700 Browning Blvd,, Los Angeles
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This family-owned shop is on a mission to build community through coffee, culture, and connection. Husband and wife duo, Celia and Joe Ward-Wallace, have returned to the neighborhood they grew up in to focus on offering fresh, affordable, and healthy food options in the area. In addition to hot and cold drinks, South LA Cafe also serves quick bites like croissants, muffins, and coffee cakes, as well as a monthly grocery box filled with produce, dry goods, and dairy—which you can either buy for yourself, or for a neighbor in need by becoming a sponsor.

South LA’s food scene is arguably the oldest in the city, but it was Post & Beam that got a new generation of diners hooked on updated versions of traditional soul food dishes. The gastropub/pizzeria/Southern food place in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza is fantastic, and the ideal spot to eat your weight in jerk catfish on a Sunday afternoon or grab a quick cocktail before a Kenny Chesney concert at the nearby Forum. Post and Beam has an idyllic patio next to an herb garden that would be perfect for an outdoor birthday dinner. Plus, there’s no shortage of warm comfort food like shrimp and grits, pecan pie, and homemade cornbread topped with whipped honey butter.

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At Leimert Park’s Hot & Cool Cafe, owner Tony Jolly is working to build a community through coffee. Originally from Washington D.C., Jolly works with farmers directly to increase their visibility in the specialty coffee marketplace, like a 50-acre, woman-owned farm in Ethiopia whose beans he now imports to their storefront on Degnan Blvd. In addition to lattes, breakfast burritos, and house-blended loose leaf teas, Hot & Cool has also partnered with the non-profit MISLA, to create a youth program that provides training and mentorship in tech, media, and design.

Simply Wholesome is one of the most crowded spots in View Park-Windsor Hills. It’s a health food grocery store with a restaurant inside and a huge patio outside, where you can enjoy their smoothies, burgers, and vegetarian tacos. Those smoothies are the reason we’re here most often–they come out quickly and are packed with fresh fruit and sherbet but if you’re having a full meal, the turkey burgers are your best bet. Both because they’re good, and because they come with Simply Wholesome’s killer French fries–they’re somewhere between a thin fry and a steak fry, not to mention perfectly golden and crisp.

LA’s favorite Creole restaurant went under the knife in 2020, but now it’s back and looking better than ever. Most of the big leather booths inside are still filled with regulars who seem like they’ve been coming here for massive portions of crawfish etouffee since it first opened. This 50-year-old South LA staple feels like a small slice of New Orleans, so expect incredible gumbo, jambalaya, and beignets. If you visit Harold & Belle’s on a Friday or Saturday night, you’ll probably catch a live jazz band jamming for diners in the restaurant’s bar and lounge area. It’s exciting, but it can also get pretty crowded, so we recommend you call ahead to book a reservation.

Owned and operated by Nashville hot chicken royalty Kim Prince, Hotville Chicken opened its doors in late 2019 and immediately became one of the best places to eat hot chicken in LA. And don’t get us wrong, the chicken is fantastic and absolutely what you should come here for, but if you leave without getting one of the hot fish sandwiches, you need to turn around and go back. Crispy on the outside, the whitefish itself basically melts in your mouth, but also acts as an ideal agent (along with the excellent slaw) to cut through whatever heat level you choose.

Hawkins House of Burgers has been a neighborhood institution in Watts since 1939. And over 80 years later, the menu still involves a mix of classic hamburgers chargrilled to perfection, piled high with bacon, or stuffed with pastrami. Whether you order a simple cheeseburger or “The Leaning Tower Of Watts″ stacked with three patties, hot links, and chili, you’ll leave as a much happier and greasier version of yourself. Recently, Hawkins has come under attack by CalTrans, which is attempting to tear down part of their building which they claim is “encroaching on state land.” Hawkins is currently in the process of fighting the case and purchasing the land that CalTrans is after. They have a Gofundme page up to help raise money for the legal fees and land acquisition.

Open since 1956, the original 27th Street Bakery on Central Avenue has become a household name thanks to its sweet potato pies. To make each personal pan pie, they fly in sweet potatoes from Louisiana and use a secret family recipe that’s been passed down over three generations. While most people come here to try these rich desserts, 27th Street Bakery also makes a bunch of other options like red velvet cake, peach cobbler, and mini pecan pies by the dozen. If you want to skip the line, order ahead through their website.

For years, this fantastic Jamaican restaurant in Leimert Park has been one of our go-to spots for jerk chicken and beef patties. And truthfully, we haven’t tried one thing at Ackee that we didn’t love. But our favorite dish is the brown stew chicken, which is like a meaty pile of brown gravy and sweet bell peppers. The portions here are massive, so if you’re flying solo, just go for the small–every order comes with plantains, steamed vegetables, festival bread, and a huge helping of rice and peas. Keep this place in mind when you’re looking for somewhere to pick up food before a picnic at Leimert Park Plaza around the corner.

A revered soul food spot with two locations in Inglewood (and one in Crenshaw), Dulan’s is an LA institution. Nothing can compare to the uninhibited joy that comes from digging into their plates of pork chops, fried chicken, and incredible mac and cheese. There’s truly no wrong way to order here, though our go-to is the chicken, which tastes like it’s been marinated for days and then gets fried until it’s golden brown. At the moment, the restaurant is just operating from its takeout window on Manchester Avenue, but don’t worry, the soul food here tastes just as good in the passenger seat of your Camry.

Walking into this classic diner on Centinela is like walking into the center of the neighborhood– families, big groups of friends, and solo diners who have been coming every week for 35 years, all clamoring to get The Serving Spoon’s Southern breakfast into their lives. No matter what day of the week you come here, expect lines out the door, but on the other side of that 45-minute wait are tremendous plates of fried catfish, chicken drumettes, and our favorite waffles in town. If you can snag a seat at the counter, do it and be treated to an endless conversation with the waitstaff.

If you’re looking for all the charm and hospitality of a casual dinner in the South, but don’t particularly feel like leaving the Pacific time zone, head to Alta Adams. Their versions of Southern classics are great–specifically, the black-eyed pea fritters and the shrimp and grits–and the staff is very friendly and attentive. So book a table on one of the best backyard patios in LA and make sure to try a few of their signature cocktails. They’re that perfect mix of sweet and refreshing, not to mention strong enough to make you forget about that white hair you found this morning.

The first thing you notice walking into this family-run Belizean restaurant is that it’s a party. Whether you’re here for a quick lunch, a family dinner, or a karaoke event, expect Little Belize to be crowded, festive, and always a great time. As far as the food goes, start with the panades (fried masa stuffed with fish hash) and garnaches (crispy tortillas topped with fried beans, tomatoes, and onions), and end with either chicken or oxtail stew. Both are immensely savory, but it’s the fried plantains on the side that you’ll be talking about–and eating–on the way home.

Banadir Somali is a family-run restaurant and community institution just south of downtown Inglewood. The bare-bones space feels like you’re in the basement of a neighborhood rec center, and everybody inside treats it as such. Big groups gather around large tables, eating massive platters of tremendous Somali food. Goat is the house specialty here, and it’s so packed with flavor it’ll ruin most other versions you’ve ever had. If you arrive around 11am, you’ll be able to order from both their breakfast and lunch menu, which is ideal, because the shakshuka, ful (bean stew), and crepe-like anjero bread are all just as good as the goat.

Co-owned by Yonnie Hagos and Ajay Relan, Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen is a cafe driven by a mission to bring quality ingredients and a sense of community to their three locations in View Park, Inglewood, and Eagle Rock. The two Los Angeles natives met each other while working at The Parlor in Hollywood, and are now serving a variety of croissants, donuts, açaí bowls, breakfast sandwiches, and more.

Established in 2017, Sip & Sonder in Inglewood is not only the area’s first specialty coffee house - they also function as a publisher, creative studio, event space, and bonafide community hub. Their flagship outpost on S. Market St. now has limited outdoor seating, where you can enjoy a variety of espressos, hot teas, and pastries. Co-owners Amanda-Jane Thomas and Shanita Nicholas have also just announced the return of their Virtual Black Business Pitch Competition - a live competition in which 10 finalists will be selected to virtually pitch their businesses live in front of a panel of judges handpicked from the Black Venture Capital community. Three winners will receive $5,000 in cash, and all applicants will have free access to two The Learning Series workshops and the live virtual pitch event.

Darrow’s does a lot of things really well - including fried catfish, jambalaya, red beans and rice, and po’ boys. But they make a really damn good bowl of gumbo. The star of that bowl is the meat - from the imported Louisiana Blue Crab to the chicken sausage and andouille, each piece is impeccably seasoned and complements the thick, gravy-like roux perfectly. Make sure to get the filé gumbo ya ya - unlike the regular filé gumbo, this one comes with a mountain of jambalaya and French bread.

The name says “Gumbo Shack,” but don’t skip the Soul Food section of Sal’s menu - which features oxtails, catfish, and more. As for that gumbo, the roux might be a bit thinner and lighter than you’d expect, but that doesn’t mean that it’s any less complex. Smooth and silky like the voice of Luther Vandross, this satin-like seafood gumbo is filled with nice chunks of shredded chicken, shrimp, and crab legs and packs a salty (but pleasant) punch.

If Big Daddy’s Kick’n Chicken sounds familiar, that's because it used to be a mini-chain with locations across South LA and in the San Fernando Valley. The owner of this charbroiled chicken spot opened his first location on Slauson back in 2000. Years after closing up shop, Big Daddy's Kick'n Chicken reopened in 2019, with a tiny takeout-only operation in Inglewood. You can order their plump, flame-grilled chicken by the half or whole, along with sides like red beans and rice, macaroni & cheese, collard greens, and cornbread. It also happens to be a short drive away from Sofi Stadium, so keep this spot in mind if you're looking for a quick meal under $15 before the next big game.

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