Every February, we celebrate the African-American and Black inventors, educators, creative minds, culinarians, writers, and leaders who made our country what it is today. But learning about known and unsung heroes, and supporting Black-owned businesses, shouldn’t stop just because the calendar page flips.
One of the easiest ways to learn about the African diaspora in the Americas is through food. Downtown Los Angeles has a wide array of Black-owned restaurants and cafes, from classic soul food joints to Rwandan coffee shops, that need our everyday support. Whether it’s savory soul food or decadent sweet treats, here’s where to go this month (and always).
We are so lucky to have this magical cafe right next door to 1133 Hope. With its whimsical decor and flair, the South Park cafe is sure to bring out your inner wizard with hot and cold libations, breakfast pastries, snacks and more. The Harry Potter-themed coffee shop makes its muggle patrons feel the magic of Hogwarts with things like the Witches Cold Brew, a special blend of coffee with oat milk, condensed milk and spices, or the Better Buzz vegan shake, a blended maple espresso latte made with almond milk. Plus: You have to love a motto like “Coffee First. Mischief Later.” Open Wednesday through Sunday for pickup.
Chef and owner Natalia Pereira hails from the Minas Gerais region of Brazil, which influences the menu at her Fashion District spot greatly. This isn’t a Brazilian steakhouse. Think: Dishes like empado de frango, a flaky chicken pot pie stuffed with hearts of palm, olives and corn; Portuguese dumplings filled with shrimp and coconut; and Brazilian street food favorites like chicken croquetas. Pickup and delivery are both available.
Jack Karuletwa has had an interesting life. After escaping the Rwandan genocide, he went to school in the U.S. traveled with the Globe Trotters and even co-starred in a Disney movie. Now he’s roasting coffee in downtown L.A., the sales of which help support coffee growers in his East African homeland. Plus he donates a percentage of profits to organizations that help build Rwandan schools, provides services to widows and orphans, and works with the Rwandan government to protect the native Silverback gorilla. That’s one perfect cup of coffee.
Owned by chef Michael Reed and wife Kwini, here you’ll find Southern and soul food classics done with an LA twist (by a fine dining-trained chef, no less). The cheery Downtown cafe has everything from fried chicken and waffles to brown rice grain bowls for breakfast and brunch. The spacious rooftop patio offers the perfect spot for a socially distanced meal, or order ahead for curbside pickup or delivery.
Organic fried chicken, locally sourced greens, mac and cheese, candied yams and cornbread — this is classic soul food as seen through a Southern California lens. Do not forget “that sauce,” a sweet and tangy condiment that you’ll want to eat on everything. Call ahead for pickup at either the Downtown LA and Inglewood locations or order delivery here.
William “Chip” Brown, the Big Man himself, was actually a physician in training when he began selling cupcakes to colleagues at the hospital. Although he could be mistaken for a linebacker, Brown excels in making delicate cakes in wee little sizes to giant XL flavor bombs. Sure you can get something obvious (and obviously delicious) like red velvet at the Historic Core staple, but don’t miss daily specials like strawberry, Oreo, or peanut butter cup-topped treats. The shop is open for limited hours for pickup; delivery via Postmates and UberEats is also available.
Featured photo courtesy Poppy + Rose