Oklahoma’s first and only James Beard award to date was bestowed on one of Oklahoma City’s longest standing Black-owned restaurants last year. Black history, and history overall was made that day.
Throughout the city, entrepreneurs, chefs, bakers and more continue to create a legacy of businesses that showcases unique aspects of Black culture with recipes ranging from traditional African and Caribbean flavors to donuts, Cajun, Creole and soul food favorites, barbecue and beyond.
This list is not all inclusive and will be added to over time as more restaurants are found or opened, but with 32 Black-owned restaurants already listed throughout the Oklahoma City metro area, you could visit a different spot each week and make it all the way to October before running out.
1. Florence’s, 1437 NE 23rd Street
The grand dame of ALL local restaurants, regardless the owner’s ethnicity, is Florence’s Restaurant. No other restaurant in Oklahoma can yet boast the hardware held by Florence’s. Nor do most spots have the kind of history baked into both their menu and their founding. Florence, now in her 90s spends less time in the kitchen, but still has the same fiery spirit that led her to where she is now. And with daughter Victoria to continue watching over the restaurant, you can bet staff will continue to pump out pitch-perfect comfort food made from scratch, specializing in fried chicken, candied yams, braised oxtail, house-made pies and a daily rotation of specials.
Andrew Black: The chef behind OKC’s Grey Sweater restaurant
Born in Jamaica, chef Andrew Black’s journey to opening restaurants in Oklahoma was not a direct one. But Grey Sweater brings his experiences to life.
Addison Kliewer, Oklahoman
2. Culinary Edge Concepts: Grey Sweater, Black Walnut, The Gilded Acorn
100 NE 4th St. and 146 Park Ave.
Florence’s might be one of the most iconic Black-owned restaurant in the city, but chef Andrew Black’s portfolio is perhaps the most expansive and talked as of late. Grey Sweater offers seasonal tasting menus in various shapes and sizes. Black’s casual dining concept, Black Walnut, features a menu aimed at the diner’s mood. Whether hungry for a hearty snack or a room to wow friends with a menu teeming with contrasting flavors, color and culture, it delivers for casual diners seeking variety. The Gilded Acorn offers the opportunity for coffee, high tea or a Champagne brunch complete with delectable bites meant to be savored alongside great company. At all three restaurants, Black, a two-time James Beard Semifinalist, employs staff whom he propels forward with the mindset of “being better today than yesterday.”
3. Big O’s Pork and Dreams, two locations, Edmond and Midwest City
Long-time Edmond educator Owen Wilson Jr. has barbecue blood lines that reach back to legendary east-side haunt Tom’s Barbecue. His grandfather, O.C. Blackwell, was its longtime pitmaster, but Wilson went into education and made a name for himself as a coach, counselor and teacher. About 2010, he bought a trailer and made barbecue his side hustle. Big O opened his first Pork and Dreams in Edmond, which has grown into two locations for ribs, brisket, pulled pork sausage, turkey legs and all the trimmings.
4. Brielle’s Bistro, 2037 S Meridian Ave.
Chef Dwayne Johnson and his wife Kaylee Owen offer breakfast, lunch and dinner cloaked in Cajun and Creole flavors. Natchitoches Meat Pies are the specialty of the house and the gumbo and crawfish etouffee are ideal on a cold day. Beignets, bourbon bread pudding or Mardi Gras cheesecake can round out your meal.
5. Eastside Pizza House, 1734 NE 23rd St.
Oklahoma City activist, rapper, artist and restaurant owner Jabee Williams just celebrated the one-year anniversary of his Eastside Pizza House and did so in style with a signature black ice cream launched in collaboration with local Boom Town Creamery to match his pizza spot’s signature black crust. You can get the ice cream at Eastside or Boom Town. The pies at Eastside are named for well-known neighborhoods and historical figures of the area, including Clara Luper, Ralph Ellison, Garden Oaks, Deep Deuce and more.
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6. HeavenLee BBQ, 8601 NE 36th St., Spencer
Brandon and Shonnie Lee started HeavenLee BBQ as a catering service and moved into a restaurant space in 2020. The menu includes a variety of meats — brisket, wings, smoked sausage, pulled pork and more — and sides. They also offer smoked apple and peach cobbler and various flavored teas to wash everything down.
7. Mama Z’s African Restaurant, 4534 NW 16th St.
West-African fare in humble digs are on the menu at Mama Z’s African Restaurant. The menu includes a variety of traditional Nigerian dishes including Ayamase stew, fish rolls, snails, beef suya and more.
Owner of Not Cho Cheesecake carries on wife’s legacy months after her death
Not Cho Cheesecake, a quaint cheesecake shop in Bethany, is carrying on the legacy of one of its founders who passed away in November.
Addison Kliewer, Oklahoman
8. Not Cho Cheesecake, 3934 N College Ave., Bethany
Spreading love through cheesecake wasn’t Glen Whitaker’s dream, but that didn’t stop him from opening Not Cho Cheesecake in Bethany. Cheesecake fantasies belonged to his fiance, Shoshianna Moore, a 32-year-old Army combat veteran who started the business from home in the summer of 2019. But not long after she and Whitaker opened a store across the street from Southern Nazarene University, Moore’s life was claimed by the coronavirus. Moore’s dreams continue to manifest into reality thanks to Whitaker and a dedicated team who make a variety of individual and full-size cheesecakes, including cookies and cream, peanut butter and chocolate and Tennessee Whiskey.
9. Off the Hook Seafood & More, 125 W Britton Road
The pandemic cost chef Corey Harris and his wife Loneisha their second Off the Hook location, but the original continues to pump out the Cajun favorites. Corey and his family have been winners on Food Network, and he puts his own spin on matters, and might even bust a rhyme while you wait.
10. Jola’s Kitchen, 3209 S Broadway, Edmond
After years of hard work, Jolajesu “Jola” Sunmola has a brick and mortar take-out kitchen for her traditional Nigerian recipes. The journey began in 2015 and encompassed a food truck, a country-wide shipping business and, as of Feb. 3, a new spot in Edmond where you can stop in to pick up soups, stews, fried fish platters, and proteins ranging from goat to chicken, snails and beyond. Mix and match various proteins and sides to try a wide variety of menu items and experience many of the flavors offered at Jola’s Kitchen.
11. Andeez Donuts, 118 E 15th St., Edmond
Andeez Donuts has been cranking out fried, glazed and iced delights since June and they have a few tricks up their sleeves, as well. In addition to traditional donut flavors and donuts themed for the Oklahoma City Thunder and various holidays, you’re likely to see apple, peach and blueberry fritters, as well as some savory-sweet mash-up combinations.
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12. Polk’s House, 2319 Lottie Ave.
Husband and wife chefs Shacopie and James Polk serve the classics from a tiny wooden restaurant with red trim and historic bones at the corner of NE 23 Street and Lottie Avenue. Weekdays are for lunch favorites like meatloaf, beef tips, fried smothered chicken and catfish, and smoked turkey legs. But on Fridays you might catch a king crab boil or juicy steak.
13. Edie’s Grill, 308 NW 10th St., inside The Collective
A quick view of the menu at Edie’s Grill offers up entrée options like smoked brisket and pork ribs, chicken wings and beef skewers. Sides include fries, dodo (fried sweet plantains), mixed vegetables, black beans and coconut jollof rice. The restaurant is a combination of sub-Saharan seasonings and sides blended with slightly more traditional American-style smoked meats — a great entry into African food for those who might not be ready to make the full jump to some of the other options on the list.
14. Chef Dee’s Creations, 2739 NW 36th St.
The work of a young chef and entrepreneur, Chef Dee’s Creations began as a food truck but is now cranking out Cajun and Creole-inspired seafood dishes and specialty cakes at a brick and mortar spot, on the food truck and for catered events. The menu includes gumbo, chicken and waffles, pastalaya, shrimp and grits and more.
15. Carican Flavors, 2701 N Martin Luther King Ave.
Owner Sharon McMillan is closing in on 20 years of serving Oklahoma City from the Caribbean. Missing the Trini foods of her roots, McMillan opened Carican Flavors almost two decades ago. Stews come with oxtail, goat and lamb; and chicken is served in curry or seasoned with jerk.
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16. Leo’s Barbecue, 3631 N Kelley Ave., inside Homeland at 36th and Lincoln
Pitmaster Charles Smith spends his time at the Leo’s location inside the new east-side Homeland location these days. The original store hasn’t operated in over a year, but Smith continues an unparalleled local barbecue tradition at Homeland. Started by his father, Leo’s has long been known for ribs, brisket and pulled pork, but the hot barbecue sauce is genius and if you leave without banana-strawberry cake, it’s a mortal sin.
17. Caribbean Fusion Trini Style, 6717 NW 23 St.
The local food truck specializing in the flavors of Trinidad and the surrounding islands opened a permanent location in 2021. The new weekend location offers a full bar and a menu featuring rotis and rice plates for curry and grilled proteins seasoned with jerk. It’s open noon to 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
18. Good Girl Chocolate, 1901 Northwest Expressway, inside Penn Square Mall
Tabatha Carr’s life changed when she turned to chocolate during on the road to wellness. Now, she’s serving chocolate to the stars and anchoring a space in Penn Square Mall with her chocolate factory. Good Girl Chocolate specializes in confections made with raw cacao beans, virgin coconut oil, agave and coconut sugar as alternative sweeteners.
19. Taste of Soul Giant Eggrolls, 4605 SE 29th St., Del City
Cerese Bly has been in love with eggrolls her whole life, but she wasn’t able to convince her husband of them until they were able to turn them into a small mobile kitchen business in 2012. Cerese now operates out of Del City, serving massive eggrolls stuffed with classic and eclectic fillings. Taste of Soul‘s eggrolls might be stuffed with breakfast, a cheeseburger or Philly cheesesteak or traditional sausage and grilled chicken.
20. Tez Wingz, two locations, Midwest City and Oklahoma City
Masters of the Chicago-style wing, Will Jordan’s Tez Wingz thrived during the pandemic with its convenient walk-up window and mobile-friendly menu. The restaurant specializes in crispy wings with sweet heat but also serves fried shrimp and catfish. Check out what our team of wing enthusiasts thought during the 2021 Summer Wing Ding.
21. Smoked Out, 6220 Northwest Expressway
Pitmaster Leroy Richardson drew on two generations of family recipes to open his mobile barbecue kitchen in early 2018. Later the same year, he opened in west Oklahoma City, serving classic smoked meats and sides. Richardson carries on despite losing his fiancé and partner, Jacque Lucas, to the coronavirus.
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22. Taste of Africa, 119 N Robinson Ave., in the Robinson Renaissance food court
Another Oklahoma entrepreneur who began her restaurant with a food truck and countrywide shipping and recently moved into a physical space is Stayce Momanyi. Taste of Africa is Kenyan food which includes items such as sausages, samosas, fried fish, chapati (a type of fry bread), ugali (a dough-like African staple made of cooked grains or starchy vegetables), and more.
23. Naija Wife Kitchen, 119 N Robinson Ave., in the Robinson Renaissance food court
In the same downstairs food court as Taste of Africa, you will find Naija Wife Kitchen the offering and labor of love brought about by Tahnee Francis. Open just two short weeks in the food court, Francis has been on a mission to bring Nigerian and Yoruba culture to those who dined with her as she served food from other locations throughout 2022. At Naija Wife Kitchen, you’ll find a rotating menu with various stews and swallows available. Spicy suya wings make a regular appearance on the menu as as jollof rice and dodo, or fried plantains. Francis’ promise to newcomers is that free samples will always be available to make Nigerian cuisine approachable and accessible.
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24. OKC Cake Lady, online only at theokccakelady.com
Nicole England, or The OKC Cake Lady, as she is known online, is a baker known for her extravagant cakes for weddings, birthdays, graduations and other life events. With more than 8,000 followers on Instagram, England’s custom-ordered cakes are all one of a kind and as unique as the people they’re being made for. With clients ranging from private weddings to Tinker Air Force Base, this baker’s schedule fills up fast, so contact her for orders well in advance of your event.
25. Wings Supreme, 3925 N Lincoln Blvd.
Born in Washington D.C., Wings Supreme goes back a ways when a pair of young Oklahoma students, Kelvin Martin and Eric Johnson, attended Howard University and opened the original there in 1989. The local entity dates back six years, and the front door has barely stood still since. Whether its politicos from the capitol or local neighbors, Wings Supreme stays busy serving its signature lemon pepper wings and about 20 other flavor profiles. Catfish and shrimp also get batter-fried treatment, and don’t forget peach cobbler.
26. George’s Happy Hog, 712 Culbertson Dr.
George’s Happy Hog was founded by George Thompson and Dee Bowlin, but in 2012 they sold it to Debra Ivory her son Stephen, who ran it together until the coronavirus claimed Debra’s life in December 2020. Stephen carries on with the whole smoked wings his mother instituted, along with classic ribs, hot links, brisket, chopped beef, pulled pork and smoked bologna.
27. Outta Da Box Food 2 Go, 30 NE 2nd St.
A number of operations have cycled through the shipping container complex known as OKSea, the latest of which is Outta Da Box Food 2 Go. This carry-out destination serves up brunch on Saturdays and lunch and dinner Tuesday through Friday with a menu including pasta, pork chops, chicken breast, sandwiches, salads and more.
28. Catfish Connection, 2000 S Broadway, Edmond
Edmond’s Catfish Connection has been serving up crispy fried catfish, shrimp, wings and fried and grilled tilapia for nearly a year. They also offer crab cakes, oysters and boudin balls and links served up for dine-in or carry-out. Catfish is available as nuggets, filets, bone-in and there’s even a whole option listed on the menu all seasoned with original or “nitro” flavoring. Combos come with fries, bread and home sauce and upgrades to hush puppies, fried okra and coleslaw are available.
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29. The Kitchen by B&B Catering, 4709 N Lincoln Blvd.
Mother-daughter team Ruby Booze and Demetra Bailey, who have also owned B&B Catering since 2002, now offer their “simply good soul food” to daily guests outside of events. The menu includes fried, smothered or grilled pork chops, lemon-pepper salmon, grilled or fried chicken, ribeye steaks and more. Side options include staples such as cabbage, fried okra, macaroni and cheese, candied yams, greens, and black-eyed peas.
30. Baba G’s Mediterranean Grill, 4401 W Memorial Road
Home to classic Mediterranean flavors you love, Baba G’s Mediterranean Grill boasts an open kitchen where diners can watch pita bake, meats roast and more while they wait for their meal. Stop by for a chicken or steak shawarma pita, a gyro or a falafel.
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31. Mama E’s, 4500 S Sunnyland Rd.
Mama E’s has been the city’s go-to for Soul food since chef Keith Patterson left a good job at Twin Hills Country Club to open a place of his own while grieving over the loss of his mother almost 15 years ago. Now in the Mid-Del area, Patterson still serves chicken and waffles plus neck bones, chicken and dressing, fried catfish, collard greens, macaroni and cheese, oxtails, chitlins, cornbread and sweet potato pie.
32. Spunkie’s Soul Food, 1901 Northwest Expressway, inside Penn Square Mall
One of the most popular paths for Oklahoma entrepreneurs seems to be from food truck to brick and mortar, and soul food provider Spunkie’s opted to take a page from this book. Stop by their space in Penn Square Mall the next time you’re doing some shopping to grab bbq meatballs, pork chops, catfish, wings and more with candied yams, macaroni and cheese, broccoli, rice and cheese casserole and other tasty sides. Spunkie’s also does specials from time to time with items like ribs and chicken fried chicken making appearances on the menu.
Honorable mention: Vanessa House Beer Company, 118 NW 8th St.
Five long-time friends dreamed up Oklahoma City’s Vanessa House Beer Company. The friends forged a lifelong bond and they hope to help others with the brews they sling at their taphouse and in stores. Stop by and try a signature 401(K) or Destination Wedding or one of the many rotating brews currently on tap.
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