Juneteenth is a reminder of the long and hard struggle that African Americans have faced in their fight for freedom. It is also a day to celebrate the progress that has been made. Juneteenth is a day of hope and a day of determination. It is a day to reflect on the past and to look forward to the future.
We’ve curated a list of restaurants across the country, perfect for celebrating Juneteenth. Each exemplify how African American culture values food as a way to honor their heritage, connect with family and friends, and express creativity.
Dining Destinations for a Memorable Juneteenth
Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19th, which is the anniversary of the day in 1865 when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced that all enslaved people in the state were free. In Texas, enslaved people were not aware that they were free until 2.5 years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. This was because Texas was far away from the Union-controlled states, and Confederate forces had cut off communication.
Since the end of slavery, Juneteenth has been celebrated by African Americans as a day of emancipation and freedom. However, it wasn’t until 2021 that Juneteenth became an official federal holiday. If you are looking for a place to celebrate this important holiday and are in the area, be sure to check out one of the following spots.
New York, NY
Sylvia’s Restaurant was founded in 1962 by Sylvia Woods, a native of South Carolina later dubbed “The Queen of Soul Food”. The restaurant became a popular gathering place for African Americans during the Civil Rights Movement. Many civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, ate at Sylvia’s. The restaurant also played a role in the Harlem Renaissance, and continues to be a favorite spot for artists, writers, celebrities, and musicians to visit, such as Grand Master Flash, Diana Ross, and President Barack Obama.
The Land of Kush
The Land of Kush is an award-winning vegan soul food restaurant that embraces African American heritage and culture. Founded in 2011 by Naijha Wright-Brown and Gregory Brown, the restaurant’s concept revolves around providing a vegan alternative to classic soul food dishes while maintaining the authentic flavors and cultural significance of the cuisine. The Land of Kush offers a diverse menu that includes a wide range of vegan dishes inspired by African, Caribbean, and American soul food traditions.
In addition to its restaurant operations, the Land of Kush offers cooking classes to inspire people to embrace plant-based cooking. This restaurant has become a gathering place for local activists and organizations dedicated to promoting social justice and environmental sustainability. If you are in the Baltimore area, it’s the perfect plant-based option to celebrate Juneteenth.
The Busy Bee Café
The Busy Bee Café has been a fixture in the city’s African American community since 1947. Founded by home chef Lucy Jackson, the restaurant quickly gained popularity for its delicious soul food and warm hospitality.
During the Civil Rights Movement, The Busy Bee Café became a significant gathering place for the meeting of minds, attracting notable figures like Martin Luther King Jr., Maynard Jackson, and Andrew Young. It was a hub for planning meetings and discussions surrounding the fight for equality.
The restaurant continues to give back to its community by supporting local schools, sponsoring youth programs, and providing employment opportunities. The Busy Bee Café remains a symbol of resilience and pride in Atlanta’s African American heritage.
The Breakfast Klub
The Breakfast Klub in Houston, Texas, is not only known for its mouthwatering breakfast dishes but also for its commitment to uplifting the African American community.
Founded by Marcus Davis in 2001, the restaurant has become a cultural landmark. The Breakfast Klub actively participates in community initiatives, supporting organizations that focus on education, entrepreneurship, and social justice. Marcus Davis, a prominent community leader himself, uses the restaurant as a platform to advocate for change and address issues affecting the African American population in Houston.
The Breakfast Klub has hosted numerous influential guests, including celebrities like Beyoncé, President Barack Obama, and civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton.
Paschal’s was founded in 1947 by James and Robert Paschal, two African American brothers. It started as a small sandwich shop but soon expanded into a full-service restaurant. Over the years, Paschal’s became a symbol of Black-owned businesses and an important landmark in Atlanta’s history. For example, during the Civil Rights Movement, this restaurant served as a meeting place and gathering spot for leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph David Abernathy, and John Lewis.
Paschal’s Restaurant stands as a testament to the rich history of Atlanta and the pivotal role it played in the civil rights movement. With its delicious Southern cuisine, warm hospitality, and historical significance, Paschal’s continues to be a cherished dining destination, preserving the legacy of the past while offering a taste of authentic Southern flavors.
Luella’s Southern Kitchen
Luella’s Southern Kitchen is a restaurant deeply rooted in African American traditions and flavors. Founded by Darnell Reed, Luella’s Southern Kitchen offers a menu inspired by his family’s recipes and his grandmother’s influence. After that, the restaurant has won several awards, including being named a Bib Gourmand restaurant by Michelin Guide.
The restaurant celebrates African American heritage by featuring dishes that pay homage to the culinary traditions of the South. Luella’s actively engages with the community by hosting events that promote local artists, musicians, and authors. Luella’s Southern Kitchen also hosts several fundraising events throughout the year. In 2022, the restaurant raised over $10,000 for the Greater Chicago Food Depository through its annual “Luella’s Feeds the Hungry” event.
Luella’s Southern Kitchen embodies the spirit of community and the preservation of African American culinary heritage. If you are in the Chicago area and seeking a delicious and authentic southern meal for Juneteenth, Luella’s Southern Kitchen is a great option. The restaurant is sure to please with its flavorful food, warm atmosphere, and friendly service.
Brown Sugar Kitchen
With its modern take on soul food, commitment to sustainability, and active engagement with the community, Brown Sugar Kitchen has become a beloved institution in Oakland. Founded by Tanya Holland, a renowned chef and cookbook author, Brown Sugar Kitchen is a beloved restaurant that blends soulful creations with California-fresh ingredients and a modern twist.
Since its opening in 2008, Brown Sugar Kitchen has gained recognition both locally and nationally. It quickly became a favorite among locals and has received praise from The New York Times, Food & Wine, and Bon Appétit and is a winner of the Michelin Gourmand award.
Brown Sugar Kitchen partners with local farmers, suppliers, and artisans to source its ingredients, contributing to the growth and sustainability of the local economy. It also offers internships and mentorship opportunities for aspiring chefs, contributing to the growth of Oakland’s culinary scene. Through Tanya Holland’s vision and culinary expertise, the restaurant continues to delight diners with its vibrant flavors and dedication to supporting local food systems.
Dooky Chase’s Restaurant
New Orleans, LA
Dooky Chase’s Restaurant is a historic dining establishment located in New Orleans, Louisiana. Founded in 1941, this restaurant is known for its Creole cuisine—blending elements of French, Spanish, African, and Caribbean culinary traditions—and its role in the civil rights movement.
This restaurant played a pivotal role in the civil rights movement as a meeting place for leaders including Martin Luther King Jr. and Thurgood Marshall. In fact, Dooky Chase’s Restaurant has long served as a gathering place for artists, musicians, and civil rights activists and has served notable names such as Quincy Jones, Jesse Jackson, Duke Ellington, James Baldwin, Ray Charles, Barack Obama and countless others.
Aside from its remarkable history, it’s the perfect place to celebrate Juneteenth as it features an extensive collection of African American art. The restaurant’s walls are adorned with works by renowned artists, and the space serves as a gallery that showcases the beauty and creativity of African American culture.
With its delicious cuisine, historical significance, and commitment to celebrating African American art and culture, Dooky Chase’s Restaurant continues to be a cherished dining destination in New Orleans. And if you’re not in the New Orleans area, this restaurant now ships nationwide.
Where Are You Celebrating Juneteenth This Year?
Our list represents just a few of the many African American-owned restaurants with rich cultural and political ties to the United States. Where are you celebrating Juneteenth this year? Let us know in the comment section!