Article by Joanna Sarah-Freedman
The UK is awash with incredible Black-owned bars, restaurants, and food brands making their mark – from West African fine-dining joint, Aokoko, nestled in London’s Soho to Momma Cherri’s Soul Food Shack, an institution in Brighton.
But as is often the way across the food scene, a lot of the most brilliant spots are cherished as local gems – passed on predominantly through word of mouth.
Black-owned bars, restaurants, and food brands in the UK
Keen to shine a spotlight on the Black-owned brilliance that exists beyond many of the polished city guides, we asked a bunch of incredible Black chefs, restaurateurs, and food experts to pay it forward and share their favourite Black-owned food and drink retailers.
Keep an eye out as a few of them actually nominate each other! Don’t you love it things come full circle?!
“The food James creates at 12:51 in Islington, North London, is some of the best I have tried in London.
“Each dish on the 5-course taster is incredibly well thought out, and the drinks pairing is spot on too – the roast haunch of venison paired with the Argentinian Malbec is just sublime.
“James has worked hard to get to where he is and is so deserving of his success. Having spent nine years under the wing of Brett Graham of two-Michelin-starred, The Ledbury, the technique and craft he shows at 12:51 combines his homely cooking style, with flair and diversity.”
“I am a super supporter of Black-owned businesses and believe there is not a lot led in the hospitality sector, but happy to see this changing and growing.
“I am also a huge fan of music and – having lived South East London for 15 years – a huge fan of how Jumbi combines great hospitality with sick vibes. So, the brand new opening, MOKO in Tottenham from the guys behind [this venue] is a blessing now I have moved North. Definitely recommend checking out!”
Riaz Phillips, chef, food writer, and author of West Winds, East Winds and Belly Full – Fish Wings and Tings
“Fish Wings and Tings is one of my favourite places to eat in London for how it fuses traditional roti shop food with a casual sit-down restaurant vibe, utilising head chef and owner Brian’s incredible family recipe in the heart of Brixton Market.
“The rum punches really help to get the night started (or ended depending on how many you have).”
Denai Moore, chef and author of Plentiful – Sister Woman Vegan at MOKO
“Saf [of Sister Woman Vegan] is the chef in residency at the newly opened bar in Tottenham MOKO.
“She’s serving up delicious vegan modern soul food, including a twist on a classic po-boy using cornmeal fried oyster mushroom, spelt cornbread with thyme honey butter, and her signature Mac & Cheese.
“Soul Food is something that I’ve missed a lot since going vegan. There haven’t been many good options for years, so Sister Woman Vegan at MOKO is a must-visit.”
Troy Johnson, co-founder of Sweet Dee’s Jerk – BlackEats LDN
“Home of the UK’s first and only Black-owned restaurant directory. Jackson [Mclarty] has done so much for hundreds of Black-owned hospitality businesses over the last few years it is truly inspirational.
“His dedication and knowledge, with his drive to get Black-owned food vendors where they should be, is nothing short of greatness! Shout out Jackson every time!”
Tomi Makanjuola, chef and author of Vegan Nigerian Kitchen – Gwafu Vegan
“My favourite Black-owned food brand in the UK is Gwafu Vegan. Based in Manchester, this fresh and vibrant company specialises in vegan West African food, redefining traditional flavours with a compassionate twist.
“You’re missing out if you haven’t tried their delectable sweet puff puffs (West African doughnuts) which they now deliver nationwide. With toppings like African nutmeg sugar and vegan milk chocolate, you are in for an unforgettable treat!”
Charita Jones, founder of Momma Cherri – Moyo’s Burgers
“My favourite local spot is Moyo’s Burgers, on Preston Street in Brighton.
“Head Chef Brian Moyo and his brother George bless Brighton and Hove with their fabulous burgers, all made by hand on the premises. My personal favourites (I can’t choose just one) are their Jerk chicken, Soulfoo Philly cheeseburger, and their Falva vegan burger.
“It’s obvious from the taste that they use the freshest locally sourced ingredients, and you can taste the love in every single bite. I especially love they have an extensive range of chicken, beef, and vegan burgers. Best burgers in Brighton hands down!”
Emeka Frederick, co-founder of Chuku’s – MAP Maison
“MAP Maison is a hidden gem on the Haggerston end of Kingsland Road [in London].
“It’s a relaxing Japanese whisky bar with a speakeasy vibe and incredible cocktails, which you can even make up to enjoy at home with their special MAP Lab range.
“They also offer experience days of afternoon tea and whisky masterclasses. MAP Maison is owned by Joseph Arowolo, who also owns La Bibliotheque in London and MAP Petite Maison in Stockholm, Sweden”
Brian Danclair, founder of Fish Wings and Tings – Rhythm Kitchen
“I like Rhythm Kitchen [in London’s Walthamstow and Stratford]. The founder, Delroy, is a person who is after my own heart.
“He was a videographer before and he just went into the food business and worked hard to get there – and I admire hard work a lot!
“The food is fantastic. It’s traditional Jamaican food and he takes great pride in doing the food justice. People should order the jerk chicken – definitely!”
So, there you have it. A pretty incredible list of Black-owned businesses, as chosen by some of the best in the game.
These lot know their food, so we’re more than happy to endorse anywhere they’re ordering from! Now, let’s all put our money where our mouths are and show these places some love.
Featured image: Rhythm Kitchen/ 12:51