Whether it’s just like mom used to make or whipped up by a celebrity chef, Atlanta is home to many restaurants owned by African-Americans. Here are some of our favorites. (See more of Atlanta's tasty restaurant options here.)
Atlanta Restaurants Owned By Black Celebrities
1. Old Lady Gang
This Southern-style eatery is owned by singer and “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star Kandi Burruss-Tucker and her husband. The “Old Lady Gang” is Burruss, her mother, Joyce Jones, and aunts Bertha Jones and Nora Wilcox. The Castleberry Hill restaurant features favorites such as deep fried whipped deviled eggs, Mama Joyce’s BBQ rib tips and Kandi’s honey-glazed blackened salmon. The restaurant is so popular the gang opened additional locations in East Point and inside State Farm Arena.
The intimate lounge and restaurant is owned by the NFL’s Cam Newton. Fellaship, located Downtown, is the place to indulge in fine dining, cigar smoking and socializing. Among the specialties are lobster bites, braised short ribs and deep dish mac & cheese.
3. Chicken + Beer
Atlanta native Cris “Ludacris” Bridges opened one of the most popular restaurants at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. It’s the perfect place for a hot bite, cold drink and Southern hospitality. Try the chicken + corn chowder, fried catfish sandwich and, of course, Luda’s chicken + waffles. Enjoy beer flights from such brewers as New Realm, Creature Comforts and Scofflaw Brewing Co.
4. Bankhead Seafood
Rapper Michael Render “Killer Mike” and Clifford “T.I." Harris have fond memories of eating, as children, at Bankhead Seafood, so when the restaurant announced its closing, the two sprung to action with a plan to re-open Bankhead Seafood. They’ve already bought the business, recipes and trademarks so it should be open soon, but there will be some changes. Render’s aunt's and grandmother’s biscuits will find their way onto the menu as well as Harris’ sweet potato pie.
5. Escobar Restaurant & Tapas
Rapper 2 Chainz opened the Castleberry Hill restaurant. It serves a variety of drinks and dishes such as calamari, jerk shrimp and lamb chops.
Atlanta Restaurants Owned by Black Celebrity Chefs
6. Rock Steady
Inspired by his cultural roots and his interest in travel and cooking, Haitian-American entrepreneur Jacob Thomas created Rock Steady with restaurateur Joe Russo to celebrate the vibrant cuisines of the West Indies. Diners can enjoy main courses such as black pepper pappardelle pasta with slow braised oxtail, kreyol seafood curry as well as several vegetarian offerings. There is an edited after-hours menu until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
7. Richard’s Southern Fried Chicken
Chef Todd Richards marinates the chicken in a spiced brine for 24 to 48 hours then fries it until it is crispy and crunchy. You can choose from classic, spicy and Richard’s hot chicken. His first cookbook, “SOUL: A Chef’s Culinary Evolution” received critical praise and was featured in magazines such as Bon Appétit, Food & Wine and People. He is slated to open a barbecue restaurant in the southwest Atlanta neighborhood Florida Height.
8. Milk and Honey
Opened by chef Sammy Davis, winner of the Food Network’s hit show “Chopped: Redemption,” and headed by co-owner Monique Rose Simms, Milk and Honey is famous for its lobster gumbo & grits, seared lemon pepper trout, fried crab legs, turkey meat loaf, crab hash and Georgia Peach Cognac French toast.
9. Tom, Dick & Hank
Hank Johnson owns the barbecue restaurant with two locations, one on Main Street, the other on Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard. Johnson has been on national cooking shows where the hosts love his smoked wings, burgers and BBQ fettuccine.
Located near Mercedes-Benz Stadium Paschal’s is an iconic local restaurant where civil rights leaders and business elites would meet during the civil rights struggle to discuss how to end segregation. It still serves some of the best fried chicken in town.
11. Le Petit Marché
This spot gets a lot of foodie love for its fresh breads, cheese, pestos and flavor-packed sandwiches, soups and salads. Owner Marche Sparks opened this Kirkwood gem in 2008 and while she is gaining accolades, diners should know that it’s a family affair. Both her mother and father help out and are often at the restaurant. Make sure to try the French toast sandwich and the Grits Stack with eggs, cheddar, Georgia shrimp and bacon.
12. 9 Mile Station
Kelvin and Mandy Slater opened their restaurant on the roof at Ponce City Market, and people have flocked there ever since. The elevated beer garden offers sweeping unobstructed view of Atlanta as well as craft beers from all over the world and shareable food.
Traditional Black-Owned Restaurants in Atlanta
13. Busy Bee Cafe
This is perhaps Atlanta’s best known “meat and three.” It was launched in 1947 by Lucy Jackson, when restaurants were still segregated. The restaurant regularly makes the lists for “best fried chicken.” Other favorites are neck bones, Joe Lewis ham hocks and red velvet cake.
Opened in 1993 in the historic West End by Fred and Christine Crenshaw, the restaurant has been serving up delectable, distinctive soul food ever since. Located on Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard, Q-Time highlights are pork chops, fried fish whiting and turnip greens.
15. Mangos Caribbean Restaurant
It's a great place on Auburn Avenue to have a fantastic meal that won’t break the bank. Try the saltfish, oxtails and jerk curry.
16. The Beautiful
Want the perfect biscuit? Then head over to Cascade Road to this cafeteria-style dining environment. Its food is nationally known, especially the biscuits, but the Cornish hens, salmon patties and pancakes are pretty good as well.
17. Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours
Deborah Vantrece serves up a menu based on soul food principles with a modern twist. Located in West Midtown, the restaurant's specialties are Grandma Lueticia’s cast iron burger, turkey meatloaf, Southern-marinated fried chicken and Cajun grilled tofu. Brunch favorites include Jack Daniels honey pecan wings, hoisin oxtails, and crab and shrimp open-faced omelette.
18. Daddy D’z BBQ Joynt
This well-known barbecue joint on Memorial Drive is where you'll find everyone from state troopers to musicians. Among the specialties are the ribs, Brunswick Stew and mozzarella cheese sticks.
Vegan or Vegetarian Restaurants
19. Slutty Vegan
You'll have to stand in line to get in, but as locals and food critics across the country will tell you, it’s worth it. Located near Atlanta University Center, the restaurant is famous for its plant-based foods, especially burgers and slutty sauce. Founder Pinky Cole serves up such plant-based dishes as Chik’N Head, Big Dawg and the Super Slut, which is the plant-based burger with guacamole, jalapeños, vegan cheese, onions, lettuce, tomato and sauce on a vegan Hawaiian bun.
20. Local Green Atlanta
Local Green Atlanta was started by Zachary “Big Zak” Wallace, a legend in the music scene who has written chart-topping hits for some of the biggest names in the music business. Wallace also realized that the African-American community’s diet was filled with high fats, empty calories and sky-high sodium levels. He started to make a difference with his Local Green Atlanta food truck and has since opened Local Green Atlanta in Vine City. His plant-based cuisine features fresh smoothies, bowls, pescatarian dishes such as “monsta” shrimp burger, salads and a variety of vegetarian/vegan dishes such as “Basquiat” veggie pizza and “Rappers Delight” cauliflower Philly. Oprah said the dishes are among her health food favorites.
21.South Vegetarian No. 2
One of the largest chains of vegan restaurants in the world operates under the auspices of the Hebrew Israelite Community of Jerusalem. Located in the Poncey-Highland neighborhood, Soul Vegetarian offers vegan BBQ dinners, home-style meat-free dishes as well as dairy-free ice cream. Among the specialties are country fried steak, barbecue tofu and a carrot supreme salad plate. There is a second location in the West End.
22. Plant Based Pizzeria
Marisa Acoff and Paul Howard opened the city’s first vegan pizzeria, Plant Based Pizzeria. The carry-out-only eatery, located in Virginia-Highland, has quickly caught the attention of neighborhood residents as well as celebrities such as Jermaine Dupri and Keri Hilson. All pizzas are served on a spelt flour or gluten-free crust. Among the specialties are the Hawaiian Pizza, Mexican Pizza, Alfredo Pizz, and pepperoni and sausages. In addition there are calzones, flatbreads and burgers.
23. Viva La Vegan
Located in a strip center in the West End, Viva La Vegan features some of the best vegan dishes in town. Among the favorites are Philly fried cauliflower, mock salmon burger, Reuben (using portobello mushrooms) and a vegan chili dog. The menu is categorized into soy, non-soy and raw items.
24. Healthful Essence
The West End restaurant features Caribbean-style vegan cuisine with such items as jerk un-chicken, tofu cutlets and curry vegetables. At Healthful Essence, you’ll enjoy listening to Reggae music in the background and dining on food prepared by Princess Dixon (known as Mama Princess), who has been serving her Caribbean vegan and vegetarian dishes for more than 25 years.
25. Tassili’s Raw Reality
This fast, casual restaurant located in the West End features a variety of internationally inspired vegan dishes. Tassili Ma’at’s dishes cater to a variety of people from flexitarian to vegetarian to vegan, transitional clients to raw experts. Tassili started her restaurant about eight years ago and is recognized for having the best kale in Atlanta-if not the world. On the menu are spicy kale wrap, Afrikan carob cake, black-eyed pea hummus and Moroccan couscous.
26. Vegan Dream Doughnuts
These pillows of dough are as delicious as they are beautiful. Try the cherry mango cinnamon rolls or the vanilla almond glazed doughnuts. Located in the historic West End, the shop also offers organic fruit cinnamon rolls and smoothies. The doughnuts come minus any gluten, sugar, milk or eggs and are sweetened with agave and coconut crystals.
27. First Batch Artisan Foods
The folks at First Batch Artisan Foods believe in making life “sweeter,” and the restaurant's award-winning vegan ice creams do just that. Located in Little Five Points, the ice cream and dessert spot is the brainchild of Dymetra Pernell (known as the Plant-Based Princess). She holds a doctorate in naturopathic medicine.
Journalist Mary Welch writes business and lifestyle stories for local and national publications.