Celebrating Grand Rapids means lifting up the people, traditions, cultures and, of course, foods that contribute to the rich texture of our community. Black-owned restaurants are an integral part of our dining scene, serving up delicious and distinctive foods that often reflect the history and heritage of the entrepreneurs behind them.

Here’s a brief look at some of the area’s Black-owned restaurants, both new and long-beloved.

Two People Dining Together at Forty Acres Soul Kitchen.
One of 40 Acres' specialties is their flight of grits.

Forty Acres Soul Kitchen offers a variety of Southern comfort foods on their menu, including a flight of grits.

Photo by Mod Bettie for Experience GR

Southern Cuisine and Comfort Foods

The category of “southern food” would not exist without the labor and creative influence of African Americans, who brought their culinary traditions with them as they migrated out of the Deep South (and into places like Grand Rapids). These are the restaurants you want if you’re craving an authentic taste of soul food and some stick-to-your-ribs comfort dishes:

The Candied Yam

The “Delightful Southern Cuisine” at this southeast side restaurant includes catfish, perch, meatloaf, pork chops and baked chicken plus sides like black-eyed peas, collard greens, mac & cheese and (you guessed it) candied yams. Dessert is just as delightful: sweet potato tartlets, scratch-made red velvet cake, banana pudding and more.

Daisies Place

This downtown GR restaurant serves breakfast and lunch with a late-night party vibe during the day. Open Saturdays from 10am-4pm and “Soul Food Sundays” from 11am-5pm, Daisies Place offers a limited menu that includes pecan French toast, chicken & waffles, fried corn riblets and chicken wing dings as well as a selection of mocktails.

Forty Acres Soul Kitchen

A style-your-own-soul-food option offers a choice of chicken, brisket, catfish, shrimp, andouille sausage or turkey leg in a gumbo, po’boy, platter or by itself, served with a choice of authentic southern sides. But that’s just the tip of the menu at this Uptown neighborhood eatery, which also offers a variety of shrimp & grits dishes, sharing plates, vegan options and full bar service including Michigan’s only cognac bar.

Southern Smoke

Chef/owner Jodie Robertson cooks from scratch using the freshest ingredients to create a wide variety of southern favorites at their restaurant, including catfish, fried chicken, turkey knuckles, pig’s feet, collard greens, mac & cheese, buttermilk pie, peach cobbler and more.

Chez Olga - Dining

Chez Olga, an Uptown favorite, specializes in Caribbean and Creole food.

Photo by Experience Grand Rapids

African & Caribbean Cuisine

While Southern cuisine is rooted in the traditions of Africa and the African diaspora, African and Caribbean cuisines are as distinct from their American offshoot as they are from each other. Grand Rapids has some excellent places to explore and savor these global food traditions:

The Caribbean Bite

The Caribbean Bite brings the flavors of Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico to two locations in downtown GR’s Studio Park and Grandville’s Rivertown Crossings Mall. Popular dishes include stewed chicken, oxtail, Dominican rice and fried plantains.

Chez Olga

A beacon of the city’s Uptown neighborhood since 2011, Chez Olga specializes in Caribbean and Creole dishes such as accra, fried plantains, jerk chicken, gumbo and goat ragu. You can also enjoy non-alcoholic Haitian drinks and an assortment of vegan dishes.

Get a closer look at Chez Olga from our "Eating the Alphabet in Grand Rapids" Instagram series!

 

GoJo Ethiopian Cuisine & Deli

Authentic, homemade Ethiopian cuisine is the draw at this Uptown neighborhood eatery, which offers a number of combo platters to let you sample different dishes. All dishes are served with injera, a European flatbread used in lieu of utensils. (Yes, you’ll eat with your hands.) Many vegetarian options are available.

Gursha Ethiopian Restaurant

Enjoy traditional Ethiopian beef, lamb, fish and vegetarian entrees as well as a nice selection of authentic appetizers and sides at this southeast side restaurant. Traditional hot coffee and tea, too.

Irie Kitchen

Opened in 2018, this southeast side restaurant offers “organic Caribbean street food” including jerk chicken, curry goat, oxtail, vegan dilla, plantains, fried cornbread and much more.

Jamaican Dave’s

It’s all about the spices and the seasonings at this colorful, casual southeast side restaurant. Jamaican flavors infuse such dishes as jerk chicken, oxtail and curry goat. Entrees include rice, plantains, coleslaw and festivals (deep fried bread).

Little Africa Ethiopian Cuisine

Every item on the menu at this restaurant a mile east of downtown Grand Rapids is either vegan or vegetarian. Dishes can be custom-made, including adjusting the spice levels, and gluten-free teff bread can be substituted for the traditional injera bread. Try the jasmine tea!

MIZIZI by Street Chef Shaw

Originally started as a food truck, MIZIZI was opened as a brick-and-mortar location in northeast Grand Rapids in January 2024. It offers a unique fusion of Swahili and Latin American cuisine, from Birria ramen, coconut curry pilau bowls and East African chapattis to burritos, quesadillas and tacos.

MotherLand Food

This takeout restaurant and catering service in southeast Grand Rapids focuses on authentic Liberian foods, courtesy of the two women who opened the business in 2023, both natives of the West African country. Their dishes are primarily built on chicken, turkey, oxtail and goat, and they use native produce like egusi and cassava leaves. Many dishes come with fufu, made from cassava and plantain meal.

Tropicala Taste

This southeast side restaurant offers both authentic African and Caribbean cuisine to satisfy diverse tastes. The portions are generous, the prices are affordable and the flavors are authentic – from golden fried fish tilapia to jerk chicken wings to brown rice with black beans.

Group experience the wine bar, GR Noir in downtown Grand Rapids.

Brought to you by Michigan's only Black sommelier, GRNoir is the perfect spot for lovers of live music and wine.

Photo by Brian Kelly for Experience GR

Specialty Food & Drinks

Quench your thirst and/or satisfy your snack craving via these Black-owned businesses:

Black Calder Brewing Co.

Michigan’s first Black-owned brewery doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar location, but you can follow them on Facebook and Instagram to find out where and when their beers are released.

Eden Cafe

This west-side coffee shop offers a wide array of delicious drinks along with bagels and donuts served in a positive and inclusive atmosphere.

GRNoir Wine & Jazz

Michigan’s only Black sommelier – GRNoir co-owner Shatawn Brigham – curated the wine selection at this downtown GR club to include selections from Black-owned vineyards. 

HAS HEART Coffee Shop

Located in a historic building in downtown GR’s Veterans Memorial Park, this veteran-benefitting business offers a selection of drinks and baked goods.

Last Mile Café

With a mission to change the narrative of coffee to be more inclusive, sustainable and transparent, this coffee shop and roaster donates 10% of its revenues to charity.

Local Mocha Café

Downtown GR coffee shop serves fair and direct trade organic coffee drinks along with breakfast and lunch food menus.

Kona Ice of West Grand Rapids

Follow this warm weather-season food truck on Facebook to find out where they’ll pop up next with their flavored shaved ice – or contract them for your next event.

Mosby’s Popcorn

Downtown GR is the setting for this family business, which offers 60+ flavors of fresh-made gourmet popcorn.

Rising Grinds Café

Serving breakfast and brunch, this southside café aims to “fight social and economic inequalities with a hot cup of coffee and a nourishing plate of food.”

REV: Road to Revitalize Luxury Juice Bar

This concept from a local certified nutritionist will offer a range of cold-pressed juices when it opens later in 2024 – but you can order the packaged drinks online now.

Savor the Flavor

Flavor-rich hand-rolled eggrolls and pasta and rice bowls are available at this restaurant for takeout Thursdays and Fridays – and for catering Tuesdays-Saturdays.

On-the-Go or Late-Night Bites

Stop by one of these Black-owned businesses for a quick bite from day to night:

IHOP

This location of the famous restaurant chain serves breakfast, lunch and dinner items for all ages. Open 6am-10pm Monday-Friday, noon-10pm on Sunday and 24 hours on Saturday.

Load a Spud Potato Bar

Featuring 20 “Signature Spuds” ­­– 1 lb. potatoes loaded with different toppings, plus build-your-own potatoes, tacos and salads. Open 11am-9pm Monday-Saturday.

The O&E Eatery

Brats, hot dogs, hamburgers, wings, tacos, nachos, tostadas, French fries, mozzarella sticks, onion rings and more. Open 11am-9pm Monday-Saturday.

Sutherne Fish Fry

Serving a wide variety of fried fish, of course, but also shrimp, chicken and BBQ rib tips, with an assortment of sauces for dipping. In Uptown GR.

Wing Heaven

An extensive selection of chicken, fish, shrimp, burgers, sandwiches and sides along with 20 signature dipping sauces at this restaurant. Open 11am-9pm Monday-Saturday.

Wing Kingz

The chicken here is good enough to be eaten plain – but they offer 20+ sauces anyway, along with seafood, burgers, hot dogs and more. Open ‘til 9pm Wed & Thurs, 10pm Fri & Sat, and 8pm Sun.

More Food & Bev Options

Some Black entrepreneurs in Grand Rapids are following less traditional food service paths, including:

24K Gold Coffee

This coffee roaster supplies local businesses like the South East Market and Bridge Street Market and offers online shopping & ordering.

Daddy's Dough

Order these delectable cookies online or purchase them in person at Bridge St. Market, Horrocks Market, the Grand Rapids Public Museum and select Corewell Health locations.

InBooze 

Stop by the gift store to peruse the line of handmade alcohol infusion kits that were featured in one of Oprah Winfrey’s holiday stocking stuffer lists.

Momma D's Kitchen

Signature BBQ sauces are available for online purchase and at Bridge St. Market, Fulton Street Farmers Market, Horrocks Market, Sobie Meats and The South East Market. Momma D’s Food truck runs from April 1-September 30.

The South East Market

A grocery store and food hub serving a historically underserved area of Grand Rapids with sustainably produced foods from local sources, including BIPOC-owned farms.

 

Note: Menus and hours are subject to change, so check a destination’s website or social media before you go.