According to Yelp’s Economic Impact Report, nearly 24,000 restaurants have closed their doors nationwide since March 1, 2020. This pandemic has been brutal to the food and beverage industry, having an even greater impact on Black owned eateries because of the inability to access capital while navigating systemic barriers, hampering the receipt of government backed financial resources.
Thankfully, there is some good news. Black America’s resiliency has been tried and tested over the past 400 years, and our ancestors have not let us down. Black Atlanta is experiencing a culinary revival, emerging as one of the nation’s foremost destinations for foodies, especially those seeking a true brunch experience.
As we approach our six-year anniversary, The Hungry Black Man Media (www.thehungryblackman.com) eagerly tallied the votes of our followers to select Atlanta’s Top 10 Black Owned Restaurants of 2021. There are some familiar faces, but the freshman class of newly opened establishments made this year’s competition exceptionally fierce.
From top notch cocktail programs to chef inspired tastings, Atlanta’s Black food entrepreneurs showed out in 2021 by creatively providing foodies awesome options for socially distant date nights, opportunities to celebrate milestone family events outdoors, curbside lunch pickups, and even zoom luncheons.
Our team visited and dined at every single member on this list, in addition to over 1,000 other Black-owned eateries throughout the United States. We chose to bypass all the awful but popular spots. This list is about the cornerstones of a pleasant, rewarding dining experience – food, quality, and service.
The list also contains true Atlanta spots and a couple located in the metro Atlanta area about a 15-minute drive outside the city, like College Park. Anything outside of that radius starts getting into 20 minutes drives, too far to include for the purposes of this list.
Atlanta’s Black restaurant scene is a story of celebrity, nostalgia, explants, and cottage culinarians swirling together to create an incredible renaissance of culinary excellence presented with memorable entrees, culinary sophistication, cultural revival, and interior design.
Here are Atlanta’s Top 10 Ranked Black-owned restaurants of 2021.
#1 Twisted Soul Cookhouse and Pours
1133 Huff Road Northwest D
Atlanta, GA 30318
The creator and owner of this quaint eatery is culinary giant Chef Deborah Vantrece. However, the restaurant is managed by the next generation of culinary leaders and professionals with Executive Chef Robert Butts and General Manager Ms. Kursten Berry steering the ship. The cuisine here is sophisticated, elevated, and in short, southern simplistic complexity. Yes, I know it’s a paradoxical descriptor, but when you make your way to try it, you’ll understand. This space is truly emblematic of Atlanta’s food scene with chef driven entrees like their Dirty South Fried Chicken Omelet with Springer Mountain fried chicken, peppers, onions, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, honey picante sauce, collard greens and herb potato hash. They keep the vibe going with Mississippi Fried Catfish, Black Pepper Basmati Risotto, Sauce Piquante and of course their unique Hoisin Oxtails served with vegetable fried rice, and a ginger-shallot roasted bok choy. Oh, and of course you can’t be the number one Black-owned restaurant in Atlanta and not have FIRE wings. The cocktail program is one of the best in the city, with classics such as my favorite, the Channel Orange with Johnnie Walker Black, pumpkin spice shrub, dry curacao, lemon, and black walnut bitters.
#2 Rock Steady
907 Marietta St NW
Atlanta, GA 30318
Rock Steady’s second place was a super hard decision because it has everything required for the number 1 spot. Twisted Soul’s cocktail program edged them out of first place. Rock Steady has all the elements of a restaurant where waiting months for a reservation is the norm. The space is outstandingly beautiful, swanky, hip, and intimate. The brainchild of nightclub owner Joe Russo and Jacob Thomas under the culinary direction of Chef Christian “Lucke” Bell, this is the nation’s 21st Century Cotton Club. There’s the romantic, chic, and incredibly private layout, coupled with cuisine that celebrates Jacob Thomas’ Haitian roots and Executive Chef Lucke’s Black American soulful cooking style. Now add flawless service, plating, food and even the crowd, and Rocksteady is an authentic representation of Atlanta’s status as a Black mecca. Open for brunch and dinner, you will have one of the best culinary experiences the city has to offer.
#3 LowCountry Steak
1010 W Peachtree St NW
Atlanta, GA 30309
My friends and colleagues praised LowCountry Steak way before our actual visit. The space is known for its exemplary service and the way it embodies “New South” flavors while also featuring chef inspired flare from its co-founder, celebrity Chef G. Garvin. The menu is no frills and southern in origin with an array of soulful proteins like fried chicken, ribs, and gulf seafood. The veggies are very tasty and you can finish off a great meal with their signature peach cobbler. Be sure to order the Old Fashioned here, as they use the absolutely amazing Black-owned whiskey brand, Uncle Nearest.
#4 Le Petit Marche
1984 Hosea L Williams Dr Ste 108
Atlanta, GA 30317
I loved everything on this menu. The service was amazing and the space was cozy and welcoming. It had saddened many locals hearing of its recent closure, but fortunately the owners from The Atlanta Breakfast Club purchased the business. The place is now stronger than ever with the same amazing French toast and French toast sandwiches, beignets, and coffee that made them popular. You should not leave ATL without stopping here for breakfast. You will thank me later.
#5 The Atlanta Breakfast Club
249 Ivan Allen Jr Blvd NW
Atlanta, GA 30313
Second to Slutty Vegan, Atlanta Breakfast Club is probably Atlanta’s most popular Black-owned restaurant. Thankfully, it’s not just popular, but delicious. The space is usually packed no matter what time you go, so be prepared to wait. The service is quick and friendly and the menu is extensive. I have never had a bad experience. Great for tourists, as it is located directly across the street from the city’s aquarium. There isn’t anything in the area that is serving up brunch quite like this space, especially their peach cobbler French toast, chicken biscuits with gravy or my favorite, the breakfast tacos. You will be happy no matter what you order at this lively and tasty spot. Make sure you try their sister spot, ABC Chicken and Waffles-Nitro Coffee Counter that in many ways has even tastier items.
#6 The Breakfast Boys
3387 Main St,
College Park, GA 30337
Atlanta’s brunch scene received a new member this year with the Breakfast Boys. This beautifully designed space is cozy and efficient with an eclectic menu featuring standout entrees such as their jerk chicken and sweet potato waffle, green eggs and lamb, and my favorite, the crispy catfish and grits. You can’t go wrong with their signature mimosas and brunch inspired cocktails. I recommend the peach purée and French connection for your entry to their delicious drink menu.
#7 The Real Milk and Honey
3719 Main St,
College Park, GA 30337
The Real Milk and Honey was an absolute standout worth the wait and lived up to the hype. With one of the city’s best angel biscuits, you can’t go wrong with any of their brunch biscuit combinations! The biscuits are obscenely rich, made from rolled dough with a light, fluffy and tender interior topped with a slight crust and baked to absolute perfection to an even golden brown. Horizontal cracks around the sides were invaded by the delicious homemade honey sauce. Your lips will stick together savoring each soft, moist, sweet, fluffy morsel. The chicken, cheese, and egg biscuit was out of this world. The lobster version gets sold out early so arrive earlier for that experience. There is always a wait here, but well worth it.
#8 Bole Ethiopian Restaurant
1583 Virginia Ave
College Park, GA 30337
Searching for your next date night or cultural experience? Look no further. Bole is a wonderland of flavors so unique and foreign, I had to pinch myself to make sure a vortex had not transported me to a café along the Nile River. Nope, I was right in the heart of Atlanta, basking in African art, hospitality, and above all else, the ancient cooking traditions of one of the oldest cultures on the planet, Ethiopian cuisine. You will not go wrong venturing outside of your flavor comfort zone. The sambosas and many vegan options are delicious. For the best experience, order the Bole combination platter to get a little taste of everything. It comes with beef and lamb tibs, a serving of Lentil and chickpea stew, cabbage, potato and carrot medley, Ethiopian style collard greens and a green bean and carrot stir fry. Wash it down with their homemade honey wine.
#9 Plant Based Pizzeria
730 Barnett St NE
Atlanta, GA 30306
I usually hate mainstreamed vegan pizza with its fake, off putting cheese that gives me a stomachache. Well, thankfully, Plant Based Pizzeria has a scrumptious, amazing in-house made cashew cheese. They’re the real deal! Their vegan pizza is not only tasty, but it’s also healthy, with a nut free, soy free, and even yeast free pizza dough option with in-house made marina sauce adding an incredible depth to the pie. You will enjoy the bold and fresh flavors at this vegan forward eatery.
#10 Virgil’s Gullah Kitchen & Bar
3721 Main St.
College Park, GA 30337
This space was a pleasant surprise in the College Park community. We enjoyed the salmon entrée and their unique and delicious cornbread muffins drizzled with an in-house honey butter sauce. The space is quaint and small, but lively. It has a cool inside and outside pub feel to it, with folks routinely dancing and flowing in and out of the restaurant with an incredibly spirited and social bar. Although the food doesn’t reflect the Gullah culture in an authentic sense, I enjoyed it and its nod to its glory. The Shrimp N’ Grits wit’ Crab, white shrimp cooked in crab gravy over stone-ground cheddar cheese grits was another favorite here. Don’t forget the fried chicken with their signature sauce. Amazing. This space is a vibe for sure.
#11 Root Baking Co/Pizza Jean
Second Floor, 675 Ponce De Leon Ave NE NE224
Atlanta, GA 30308
This space is super interesting and delicious. It is a bakery with outstanding European breads and southern baked goods like cookies and various pastries. The chocolate chip cookies are amazing, as are their heavenly biscuits. The sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit was the best I’ve had in my six years as a food writer. The breads are super fresh and created with locally sourced grains. Directly next door is their second brand Pizza Jean, which was amazing. As you can see in the photo, I literally was eating both at the same time.
#12 Continent Restaurant & Cigar Lounge
4300 Buford Hwy NE #201-202
Atlanta, GA 30345
So, this space is new to the Atlanta food scene. It is beautifully decorated and has more of a club and lounge feel than a restaurant. The cuisine is internationally inspired with a strong Jamaican influence. My favorites were the Braised Lamb Shank and Tomahawk steak. The only drawback is the music can be super loud, so bring ear plugs if you need to tone it down while you eat.
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