Local Black-Owned Food Businesses That You Should Already Know About – Orlando Magazine

These aren’t the flashiest places, but something should be said about substance over style. These are small family businesses that are just as full of heart as they are of flavor, and every dollar counts when you’re supporting local, especially local Black businesses.

Black-owned small businesses often fail because of a lack of access to money, whether in their own social networks or when applying for loans at formal institutions and banks. Supporting local Black-owned businesses helps to create more opportunities for Black property ownership and generational wealth in local neighborhoods—which is something you should be doing at any time of the year, not just for the new year. 

These are some of my favorite local Black-owned restaurants and food purveyors but don’t stop here, check out resources like Official Black Wall Street, which is one of the largest business directories for Black-Owned businesses in 10 countries. 

Chef Ryan Whaley of Parlor Kitchen is serving up an amazing experience in Central Florida. Photo by J. Albers Photography.

Parlor Kitchen

Ryan Whaley is a hard-working visionary who just wants everyone to try his stuffed waffles. His popular pop-up is inspired by an otherworldly idea he had once about a chef that was possessed by a ghost, who just wanted to make good food. It also plays off of the “ghost kitchen” concept, which refers to virtual restaurants that don’t have a brick-and-mortar location. That ghosty narrative comes across when you’re ordering from his spooky-ooky tent, complete with smoke machines and black lights. But it’s not just about the show with Whaley, it’s really about the food and the magic around it. His menu features a lineup of ube waffles, garlic chicken and his signature award-winning, five-cheese Macaroni and WAP. Ask him about his butter candles. 

DaJen Eats Chef Jenn Ross is ready to welcome you into her restaurant. Her vegan dishes are some of the best around. Photo by Roberto Gonzalez

DaJen Eats

Everyone loves Chef Jenn Ross, and it’s not just because her food is bangin’, but because she leads with her heart in everything she does. Chef Ross is a self-described “happy vegan” and that title permeates into all of her dishes, which also come with a Jamaican flair. Her Eatonville-based cafe serves up vegan ice cream, build-your-own-bowl options with jerked chickun (as in not from a bird but from a plant), sweet and spicy cauliflower, and gluten-free “hoax tail”—a plant-based oxtail substitute made in house-and created by Chef Ross herself. Sides include massaged collard greens and rainbow broccoli slaw that are ready for Instagram and your belly. 

Ross has established herself not just as an authority on Black vegan life, but also on successful entrepreneurship, with a food truck, her own podcast, video series and cooking classes to help spread her happy vegan gospel to the community. She bootstrapped her kitchen for four years infamously operating on 100 amps of power while slowly building reserves with which she doubled her cafe size and expanded her offerings. 

Chef Shantell Williams stands in front of her restaurant in downtown Sanford. Photo by Roberto Gonzalez

Shantell’s Just Until

Chef/owner Shantell Williams wants to serve food that is not just tasty but feeds your soul. Her special brand of Caribbean-influenced soul food is health-conscious and allergy-sensitive and developed out of necessity while raising two young diabetic daughters. Almost every side dish at the restaurant is vegan. 

Shantell’s is one of, if not the last, Black-owned businesses in historic downtown Sanford, When you enter Shantell’s, you’re embraced as family. A wide array of soul food is served at this eatery, along with a big side of charm. The fried chicken is amazing, but you can’t go wrong with the signature chicken sandwich, tossed in Shantell’s signature sauce on a bed of lettuce and pickles and a toasted bun.

Nikki’s Place

Nikki’s Place Southern Cuisine is a Black, family-owned business that serves up tasty Southern comfort food that’s so good, it’s become the poster child for Black-owned restaurants in Orlando. It’s been in business since the late ‘90s, but the owner, Nick Aiken, has been in the Central Florida restaurant industry since 1952, and he’s served some big names like Muhammad Ali and Elvis Presley. And he’d love to tell you about it if you stop by for lunch. 

Nick spends most of his time helping out in the kitchen nowadays with his daughter Shannea “Nikki” Akins running the show. The food is affordable, approachable and delicious. It’s Southern food the way it’s supposed to be, and it reminds you of things you tasted at family get-togethers, food without pretense and cooked with love. The smothered oxtail and pork chops are super popular, but don’t sleep on the fried catfish with a side of okra. Bliss. 

Tyler Brunache of Smokemade Meats. Photo by Roberto Gonzalez

Smokemade Meats

Pit Master Tyler Brunache is one of the best barbecue hawkers in the area. Period. His low-and-slow, wood-smoked, Texas-inspired style has a little Kansas flavor and features homemade rubs and seasonings that don’t overpower, but emphasize the taste of the meat. Brunache pops up all over the place with his mobile setup and you can find him at Orlando Parking Lot Party events and some of the more popular food truck roundups, usually with one of the biggest lines. Be sure to skip the tough decisions and just go for the meat platter, which features ribs, brisket, pulled pork and sausage, along with some tasty slaw and white bread to sop it all up. 

Brunache recently announced that he’d taken over the former Italian House Pizza and Restaurant space at 1400 S. Crystal Lake Drive and would be opening a new brick-and-mortar shop in the new year. Once open, they’ll be hosting a workshop series you won’t want to miss.

Evette Rahman of Sister Honey’s. Their amazing holiday cakes often sell out within hours. Photo by Roberto Gonzalez

Sister Honey’s

While not a formal restaurant, this award-winning bakery should be on everyone’s must-visit list. Led by Evette Rahman, who learned everything from her mother, the original “Sister Honey” herself, this bakery has a legion of local devoted fans, but made a name for itself at national cooking competitions. Its award-winning pies have been recognized by the James Beard Foundation with Rahman placing as a semi-finalist in the 2022 Outstanding Baker category, and is a three-time winner at the World Food Championships. Rahman is the only competitor to ever win in a category three times in a row.

Everything on the menu is sure to put a smile on your face and some pep in your step, but the lemon meringue or the coconut cream pies are sure to please. 

Here are some of the staff’s favorite Black-Owned spots across Orlando.

Chicken Fire

2425 East Colonial Drive, Orlando

Chicken Fire, owned and operated by Kwame Boakye, started as a food truck in Central Florida. It occupied a spot at the popular A La Carte, but soon outgrew that space. For the last few years you can find them in their brick-and-mortar store on East Colonial in the Milk District, where they’re serving over 1,000 pounds of chicken each weekend. Choose your level of heat (we recommend mild for your first time if you’re sensitive to heat), and don’t forget to order an extra side of their buttermilk coleslaw. Specials like their jumbo wings aren’t always on the menu, but when they are, order them! And don’t forget the Soul Sauce! @eatchickenfire

Sourced via Instagram @eatchickenfire

Cow & Cheese

400 South Orlando Avenue, Suite 101, Maitland

From the genius minds at Chicken Fire, comes Cow & Cheese, a new smash burger concept. This brand-new brick-and-mortar in Maitland just opened its doors, but already sees quite the crowd when it’s open Wednesday—Sunday from 11:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. The menu is simple, so you know it’s good. Burger prices start at just $5 for the SCSC (single cow, single cheese); a smashed angus beef patty topped with premium American cheese, their secret in-house cc sauce, on a freshly baked (and toasted) brioche bun. You can (and should) add deeply caramelized onions to your order, unless you get The Doc ($9) which is an Oklahoma-style burger featuring thinly sliced onions smashed into two angus beef patties each topped with American cheese, that awesome cc sauce and the caramelized onions of course. You can complement your burger with a side of crispy crinkle fries and some dill pickle chips. They also have beer cheese sauce if you’re so inclined. @eatcowandcheese

Sourced via Instagram @eatcowandcheese

Brick & Spoon 

933 South Orlando Avenue, Maitland

A retirement plan turned into a passion for Kentrail Davis when he made it his mission to bring Louisiana-style Cajun cuisine to Orlando. Davis is a retired baseball player from the Milwaukee Brewers who moved from Mobile, Alabama to Orlando in 2016.He opened Brick & Spoon in Orlando in 2020 after realizing there was nothing in the city that represented the food he grew up with. This may be a hot take, but Brick & Spoon may have the best deviled eggs in town, perhaps even better than Homecomin’s or Luke’s. Brick & Spoon tops theirs with fried shrimp and sriracha aioli, and it’s just the perfect bite to start a delicious breakfast or brunch.  You can navigate the menu of sweet and savory options or just go with the shrimp & grits, a hearty portion of shrimp with red and green bell peppers, onion, garlic cream sauce & fire roasted corn grits, poached egg and served with toast points. If you have a sweet tooth, try the bananas foster French toast served with caramelized bananas, fosters sauce, pecan pieces, whipped cream and powdered sugar for a truly decadent meal. @brickandspoonorlando

Sourced via Instagram @brickandspoonorlando

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