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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
Hall of Fame Burgers
Enjoy classic American fare – including burgers, chicken and fish sandwiches, French fries and onion rings – at this southside restaurant open Mondays-Saturdays from noon-9pm.
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.
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.
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
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.