African American-Owned Restaurants in Baltimore
Baltimore's Black-owned restaurants and African American chefs are worth a visit.
Baltimore’s culinary scene is known for its diverse influences, including the city’s talented African American chefs and entrepreneurs. Enjoy soul food favorites, vegan dishes, tasty desserts and more at some of the Black-owned restaurants that help forge Charm City’s distinct flavor.
This charming little café in Reservoir Hill started as a passion project for owners Aisha Pew and her partner Cole, who were looking to create a community gathering spot. At Dovecote Café, you’ll find artists serving up locally roasted coffee, activists discussing politics over homey desserts like the upside-down peach cake and foodies indulging in grown-up grilled cheese and spinach pie.
Terra Café takes great pride in cooked-from-scratch meals made on the premises and carefully selects the best and finest ingredients. Plus, the menu is as eclectic as the community they serve, featuring everything from jerk chicken and cream of crab soup to Belgian waffles and paninis.
Founded by husband-and-wife team Kimberly and Edward Ellis, this beloved Black-owned eatery has a casual, neighborhood vibe, with food so tasty you’ll wish you were a local. Breaking Bread’s specialties include finger-licking sticky chicken wings and made-to-order burgers. Find them in Pigtown, just blocks away from M&T Bank Stadium, home to the Ravens, and Camden Yards.
Beyond an innovative “New American” menu from award-winning chef Saon Brice, this Harbor East hotspot boasts an elevated urban ambiance defined by its luxe cocktail menu, dress code and resident DJs that know how to bring the party. On Friday and Saturday nights after dinner, the music is turned up even higher as the restaurant morphs into a high-energy hangout spot.
Green House Juice Cafe
Ayoluwa Hogans opened Green House Juice Cafe in 2012 with the desire for quality and tasty vegan food. Her all-vegan menu features fish filet, barbecue ribs, macaroni salad and more. And, of course, Green House’s specialty is the fresh-pressed juices and smoothies.
Located within The Ivy Hotel, a historic mansion turned boutique hotel in Mount Vernon, this upscale restaurant combines the “classic dishes of France, the comforts of England and the vast spirit of Baltimore.” The space consists of five dining areas, including the walled courtyard, romantic treasury, the Robert Parker winer cellar, a tasting room and the main bar. Chef Scott Bacon utilizes locally sourced ingredients for his menu, which evolves seasonally.
The Urban Oyster
A Baltimore native, Jasmine Norton fell in love with oysters at seven years old. Now, she’s on a mission to share that love with even the most apprehensive seafood eaters through her restaurant, The Urban Oyster—the first Black woman-owned oyster bar in the U.S. The Urban Oyster can be found at farmers markets and pop-ups across the city. The menu includes plenty of oyster dishes—think char-grilled, cheese-topped oysters and zesty oyster tacos—as well as non-seafood classics like burgers and grilled cheese sandwiches.
Water for Chocolate
This comfort food favorite has been loved by locals for years and has even gained fame with the likes of Queen Latifah. The Upper Fell’s Point restaurant opened in 2006 and expanded in 2019 to make room for more diners. Expect dishes like barbecue shrimp and grits, raisin bread French toast and stuffed breakfast burritos.
Connie’s Chicken & Waffles
Connie’s Chicken & Waffles has been serving the Southern-style favorite inside the historic Lexington Market for years, and now they have a few more locations across the city. Here you’ll find the highest-quality chicken paired with just about every type of waffle you can imagine—from classic buttermilk to cinnamon, red velvet, Oreo and more.
Royal Sauce Food Truck
While the savory melts and smashburgers coming out of Malik Robertson and April Bebel’s food truck would be swoon-worthy in their own right, it’s the duo’s selection of sauces that really set them apart. Pick from variety of flavor profiles including roasted garlic aioli, blackberry chipotle, mango tango, honey bourbon barbecue, maple butter mustard and their signature Royal Sauce. While a formal rotation is still in the works, you can track the truck’s movements on Instagram.
Land of Kush
Land of Kush serves vegan and vegetarian soul food so savory that you’ll forget it’s also healthy. Everything on the menu is vegetarian-friendly but tastes like the real deal, from the crab cakes and BBQ ribs to the curry chicken and sweet potato cake.
Next Phaze Café
Located in downtown Baltimore, Next Phaze Café puts a Charm City twist on the Southern dining experience for breakfast, lunch, dinner and cocktails. Try the crab cakes, baby back BBQ ribs, catfish fritters, collard greens, buttery cornbread and extra cheesy mac and cheese.
At Papi Cuisine in Federal Hill, owner and award winning chef Alex Perez blends the recipes and culinary techniques he learned from his Dominican father and African American mother to create an exciting Afro-Latin menu bursting with flavor. The restaurant is seafood-focused, and standouts include the stuffed lobster, crab eggrolls, seafood alfredo and honey glazed salmon. The cocktails look plucked from your last Caribbean vacation, complete with a rum punch served in a whole pineapple.
The Avenue Bakery
Since 2011, The Avenue Bakery has brought owner James Hamlin’s family recipes to his childhood neighborhood along Pennsylvania Avenue. Stop in for the signature “Poppay’s Roll,” an enormous buttery bun so good you won’t be able to stop at just one. You can also pick from a selection of cookies, sweet breads, decorated cakes and pastries. After placing your order, learn about the history of African Americans in Baltimore from plaques and photos hanging on the walls, and check out the murals outside the bakery.
Berries by Quicha
LaQuicha Brown, owner of Berries by Quicha, opened her second location in Federal Hill in 2017 after great success at her first location in East Baltimore. Her gourmet chocolate-covered strawberries are irresistible with flavors like bacon, vodka-infused and cheesecake-stuffed.
Cloudy Donuts, a Black-owned vegan doughnut shop with locations in Lauraville and Federal Hill, operates with the goal of transcending stereotypes about vegan diets and provide cleaner food alternatives to communities of color. Their selection changes seasonally, but recent delicacies have included brown butter chocolate chip, chai sugar, blood orange and mango chili lime. This 2021 Best of Baltimore winner sells out quickly on weekends, so we recommend getting your donut fix on a weekday.
Send your taste buds on a trip with a scoop from Cajou Creamery! Wife and husband duo Nicole Foster and Dwight Campbell bring bold, bright flavors to their plant-based ice cream made from cashew, almond and hazelnut milks. Cajou offers a range of flavors—horchata, baklava, sweet potato, kulfi—inspired by the couple’s global travels.
Charm City Chocolate
Todd and Michelle Zimmerman learned to create confections at a chocolate shop in South Carolina before starting their own operation in Baltimore’s Hampden neighborhood. They put love into each batch of their handcrafted artisan chocolates, including their delectable chocolate-covered cherries and fun, local flavors like Old Bay chocolate with peanuts.
Crust by Mack
It was only two years ago that Amanda Mack and her husband Jarrod moved their pop-up bakery business to a brick-and-mortar stall in Hampden’s Whitehall Mill, but demand for their goods was so high, they quickly outgrew the space. They recently opened a larger space on Pratt Street along the water, where they serve a delectable array of sweet and savory pies, tarts, pastries and more. Recent mouthwatering creations include sweet potato handpies, bourbon vanilla shortbread, salmon breakfast biscuits and strawberry tarts. And don’t miss the Old Bay chocolate chip cookie!
Aunt Kelly's Cookies
Growing up in Baltimore, Kelly Simmons spent any spare change she had on butter crunch cookies. Eventually, with the help of her grandma, she perfected her own recipe and opened Aunt Kelly’s Cookies to share her love for baking with her hometown. Located on the historic Antique Row of Mount Vernon, this Black-owned business is the only local bakery offering the famous butter crunch cookie, among other flavors, fresh baked daily.
Kora Lee's Gourmet Dessert Café
Owner Kora Polydore makes beautiful cakes, cookies, cupcakes and tarts at Kora Lee’s Dessert Café. If you’re craving something savory, the café serves sandwiches, soups and pot pies for lunch or dinner.
Meet the Chefs
Get to know a few of the tastemakers, restauranteurs and entrepreneurs who continue to elevate and shape the city’s culinary experience while honoring the heritage and contributions of the trailblazers who came before them.
Executive Chef, The Ivy Hotel & Magdalena
Inspired by his southern Black and British roots, as well as classic French cuisine, Chef Scott Bacon unites culture, tradition and sophistication to form Magdalena’s innovative and artful menu. Guests at his restaurant can always expect locally sourced and veggie-forward dishes, plus a seasonally driven cocktail menu. Prior to joining The Ivy Hotel, Chef Scott worked with the Foreman Wolf Group for many years, cooking at Cinghiale, Bar Vasquez and Johnnys.
Executive Chef, Blk Swan
Saon Brice has spent more than 25 years in the food service industry, with much of his experience focused on fine dining for large-scale events, parties, restaurants and hotels. He spent 15 years at Linwoods in Baltimore before moving to Copper Kitchen as the Executive Chef. He opened Blk Swan in 2021 as a new take on American cuisine with both luxe culinary experiences and a lively club culture.
Executive Chef, Loving Spoon Collective
Durian Neal began his culinary career working at an Italian restaurant’s pizza station. He’s since worked at several renowned restaurants around the world, from the Grand Hotel of Ireland to Baltimore’s own Gunther & Co. and Ida B’s Table. In 2018, he opened Loving Spoon Collective, an upscale Diaspora-driven culinary experience that strives to not only feed its guests but to educate them on indigenous and African American ancestral practices and cultural rituals.
Chef, Founder and Owner, The Urban Oyster
A Baltimore native, Jasmine Norton fell in love with oysters at seven years old. Now, she’s on a mission to share that love with even the most apprehensive seafood eaters through her restaurant, The Urban Oyster—the first Black woman-owned oyster bar in the U.S. Her second restaurant, The Urban Burger, quickly won recognition as the best burger in Baltimore. She has competed on The Food Network shows Guy’s Grocery Games and Chopped and has been featured on Cooking Channel.
Founder, Just Call Me Chef
Chef Catina Smith is the founder of Just Call Me Chef and Our Time Kitchen, organizations that provide community and resources to BIPOC, female and LGBTQ+ chefs, and is on the board of The Food Project. Catina has appeared in The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore Magazine, The New York Times, Bon Appétit and more. She has been named Chef of the Year by the Restaurant Association of Maryland and was an honoree at Dine Diaspora’s 31 2021 Black Women in Food Awards.
David & Tonya Thomas
Partners, H3irloom Food Group
Veteran Chefs David and Tonya Thomas are on a mission to reclaim the narrative around African American cooking while being part of its evolution. They’re behind the award-winning concepts Herb & Soul Gastro Café and Ida B’s Table, as well as the rapidly expanding H3irloom Food Group. David has appeared on Food Network’s Chopped three times, earning the title of Grand Champion in 2020.