As a company with local roots and teams on the ground in every city where we operate, we have always focused on amplifying small businesses and restaurants. We have long curated lists of favorite places that we direct Sonder guests to. Our goal is to ensure they not only have a great stay and can authentically experience the city, but to also support the smaller local organizations that give every location its own flavor and culture.
As part of our ongoing effort to highlight these local businesses, we wanted to dedicate a list specifically to Black-owned restaurants and shops. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Black business owners especially hard, with more than 40% (source) out of work – more than any other racial group. This means recovery will be significantly more challenging. With many stores slowly starting to reopen for curbside pick-up, and restaurants opening for outdoor dining only, we’ve rounded up a list of Black-owned businesses you can help support in cities across the US and Canada.
Many of these businesses were sourced from public lists that others have generously created, which we have linked under each city.
The Gathering Spot – Founded with a mission, “to create a world where opportunity is the byproduct of community and collaboration,” The Gathering Spot has become a power hub and voice inside Atlanta, which now echoes throughout the United States. Ryan Wilson and TK Petersen afford members “space and community” to gather for business and leisure, all under one roof. Soon, members will be able to experience clubs in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles. On any given day, you can find representatives across various walks of life, including Atlanta’s Fortune 500 companies, politicians (including Presidential hopefuls), celebrities and entrepreneurs – all present to push the community forward.
The James Room – Owned by Juxtapose Hospitality Group, which is led by founders Harold Brinkley and Attorney Justin D. Miller, The James Room is designed to provide an elevated experience for visitors who want to enjoy well-crafted beverages (when things are operating normally). With decadent pastries and other breakfast items, Vittoria coffee, and lunch options, James is also a great destination to start your day off right. At night, cocktails, wines and other beverages are available – and they also host cocktail making classes!
Kupcakerie – If you need a sweet treat, Kupcakerie is only an “online order” away. Located in Metro Atlanta, Kupcakerie focuses on amazing flavored cupcakes ranging from Red Velvet to the StrawberryScarlett Letter to Lemonade. The business was started in 2014 by Henry and Kascha Adeleye, and added the storefront in 2016, which can also be used as event space. While you can send cupcakes to all your favorite people to brighten their day, no one will judge if you need to send one, six or a dozen to yourself!
Oak Atlanta – If you want to be welcomed into the energy of Atlanta, start with Oak. Oak has taken over Atlanta’s downtown with their four-level beautifully designed complex, offering Comedy Shows, Sunday Brunch, and Nightlife Events with the best DJ’s. In a time when birthdays and events can again be celebrated indoors, we recommend reserving a section on Saturday, and you won’t know whether you’re in Atlanta, Vegas or NYC!
Slim and Husky’s – Started by three friends with a shared mission of empowering communities through employment opportunities and community events, they knew their mutual love of pizza could be the thread that brings everyone together. With the first location opening in Nashville in 2015, the three Tennessee State University graduates have since expanded to Atlanta – bringing with them their tasty pies and deep love for their communities. Using locally sourced ingredients and local craft brews, they offer can’t-miss custom pizzas through both takeout and delivery.
Young King Hair Care – Cora and Stefan Miller just wanted to find a natural and healthy hair care product for their young son Kade’s curly hair. After searching from store to store, the couple decided to make it on their own and gave birth to a plant-based, boy-inspired, mom-desired series of products including a leave-in conditioner, essential oils, and curling cream. The couple’s online business is thriving, and go to their website to learn more about their story and their products.
Ali’s Roti – For three decades, this favorite Trinidadian counter-service spot in Mattapan has offered massive portions of spicy, succulent meats, slaw and starch, paired with tasty roti bread. Well known for their oxtail and goat, you can call ahead or order in person (keeping your distance).
Black Market Nubian – Owned by Kai and Christopher Grant, this pop-up marketplace in Roxbury’s Nubian Square focuses on economic justice, arts and culture, and civic engagement.
Brown and Coconut – This boutique offers a line of botanical-based skin care products created by Boston sisters Letisha and Zeena Brown.
Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen – This is a foundational establishment for the South End neighborhood, which not only offers tasty food, but in non-Covid times, is also a great music venue. They’re offering takeout every Friday to Sunday from 12-9 pm, with fried catfish club sandwiches; chicken and waffles; rum raisin bread pudding; and more signature dishes. Plus, follow District 7 and Darryl’s on Instagram for music news while we’re still in quarantine.
Mida – Chef-owner Douglass Williams, who has excelled at the centuries-old art of pasta-making, was recently honored by Food & Wine as one of the country’s best new chefs. Arancini is one of his best dishes, in addition to the chicken and orzo. Currently offering takeout daily, Mida has a great Monday deal with five entree-sized pastas, salad, and bread for $70 each. They also offer wine to-go, in addition to bulk house-brined olives and fresh gelato flavors by the pint for the road.
Aysha Louise – Aysa Louise is an independent womenswear brand with contemporary, standout designs located in Charleston. After a decade spent exploring fashion industry roles on both coasts, including positions at Jill Stuart, Ralph Lauren, BCBG, Perry Ellis, and Target’s style brands, Aysha Robinson was inspired to start her own brand. Her designs are tailored for on-the-go women who want to feel both luxurious and chic, and are manufactured locally and ethically in the US. Right now, she is selling neoprene face masks in various colors that are both washable and reusable, with a portion of proceeds helping fund more masks for both medical and non-medical workers in need.
Graft Wine Shop – Started by long-time friends Femi Oyediran and Miles White, and their shared passions for enjoying good wine, great community, and the best music, Graft Wine Shop is a wine bar and store in Uptown Charleston. Locals note that both Femi and Miles and their staff are quite knowledgeable, offering a great selection of both old and new world wines, including classics and new varieties. They currently offer curbside delivery via online orders for daily pickup from 12-6 pm.
Gullah Tours – For an authentic way to really experience Charleston, we recommend Gullah Tours. Gullah is the language spoken by the first black inhabitants in Charleston – which is still thriving today in the Charleston/Beaufort region. Led by Alphonso Brown, a native of Rantowles, South Carolina, Mr. Brown is fluent in the Gullah language and familiar with many of the customs. He allows travelers to experience the history and stories of the contributions made by Black Charlestonians. While the tours have been temporarily paused, this will be a great way to experience the city once restrictions ease.
Martha Lou’s Kitchen – Martha Lou’s Kitchen is a Charleston institution that has been serving incredible soul food for three decades, receiving praise from The New York Times, The Travel Channel Martha Stewart. Favorites include the fried chicken, which locals say is crispy on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside, a side of Lima beans, the potato salad, and the homemade banana pudding – but you really, can’t go wrong.
Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ – Born in 2017, Rodney Scott and Nick Pihakis opened this BBQ joint with a mutual vision of crafting delicious barbecue. Their methods focus on honoring the history of the craft and intense attention to detail, which ultimately produces mouth-water meals. They’re both passionate about ensuring the survival of an important part of history, which makes their endeavor that much more meaningful.
Berkshire Farms Winery – Created in 2011 by two brothers Jonathan and Jason Jackson, Berkshire Farms was first founded to produce high-quality, free-range local pork – but in 2017, they decided to expand their offerings to incorporate wine. Stemming from a desire to pair the right beverage with their homegrown meat, every bottle is flavorful, with a distinct profile, and goes perfectly with their pork. Available every weekend at the Dallas Farmers Market, they also deliver.
Brickhouse Burgers and Shakes – A family owned and operated establishment, Brickhouse Burgers and Shakes is a newer burger joint in the Lake Highlands neighborhood. An immediate local favorite, this spot has become a family-friendly place to hang-out (though that has been paused for now). With locally sourced product and meat, local favorites include Biggie Duets burgers and fries, a pulled pork sandwich, smokehouse burger and cheesy fries. Make sure to try their homemade BBQ sauce, which is also for sale!
Don Morphy Privé Clothiers – Founder Daniel Mofor, once a computer engineer at Walmart, left to pursue his passion of creating custom suits. Made with an athletic build in mind, designs are thoughtfully made with blends of wool and cashmere. Daniel Mofor’s designs have become favorites of Emmitt Smith, Dwight Howard, and Tyson Chandler.
Olphactory Candles – Olphactory Candles was created by detective Brant Anderson, who was inspired to create something that would bring him relaxation and ease at the end of a long, stressful day. Inspired by his love of jazz, he creates hand-poured candles in sophisticated scents, with packaging that conjures up smooth blues.
Pressed Roots – Piersten Gaines founded Pressed Roots based on the belief that everyone deserves access to easy, and quality hair care, after experiencing her own challenges with caring for her hair. While at Harvard Business School, she realized her classmates were booking appointments at blow-out bars all the time – but she never could find someone who knew how to care for her hair. With the first location opening in Boston, Pressed Roots is now in multiple cities, with Dallas as the flagship location. It’s become one of the largest national hair salon franchises of its kind. They are currently open for services, and have added social distance practices and multiple layers of stringent cleaning and disinfecting for reopening.
Soulgood – Soulgood is an excellent vegan food truck in Dallas, with innovative, organic food options. Launched by Chef Cynthia Nevels in 2014, Soulgood started as a popup restaurant at the Dallas Farmers Market. In 2018, it was voted the Best Food Truck in Dallas by the Dallas Observer. Giving back is an integral part of their business model, with 5% of proceeds going to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation – and they’ve also been providing free meals to their community members in need during Covid-19. They just launched Soulgood Cares Covid-19 Plant-Based Disaster Relief initiative, designed to serve 150 meals to families hit hardest by the pandemic in underserved communities.
Café Résonance – Cafe by day, jazz club by night (pre-Covid), this restaurant serves fresh, affordable vegan food in Montreal’s Mile End neighborhood. They have a great mac and cheese dish, and delicious coffee from Toronto’s Pilot Coffee Roasters. We can’t wait ‘til we can enjoy both the yummy food and great live music at the same time!
Lloydies – Lloydie’s is a family-owned Caribbean food manufacturer and supplier providing affordable, high-quality, authentic and fresh West Indian food. The founder and owner, Lloyd Tull, was a carribean food producer for Quebec in the early 90s. He now has two restaurants, located in both the popular Mile End neighbourhood, which has a cozy local-feel, and Downtown, with a more upbeat vibe including a cocktail bar for the happy hour crowd. Favorite dishes to try are Oxtail, Jerk Pork or Jerk Chicken served with rice and peas coleslaw, their famous Jamaican Patties, or classic Montreal Poutines with a Jamaican spin. “Lloydie’s Jamaican Patties” can also be found in grocery stores, so you can enjoy these tasty meals with ease from home!
Restaurant Queen Sheba – This is an excellent family-owned Ethopian restaurant in Montreal. Serving authentic flavour-filled meat and vegetable platters, they also provide generous servings of injera bread to sop it all up. Popular dishes include Sega Tip, which are tender beef cubes brazed with onions, Ethiopian spices and berbere; Doro Wat, a Traditional Ethiopian dish that’s commonly prepared on festive occasions, comprised of deliciously spiced chicken simmered in onions and specially blended red pepper (berbere) sauce, and Yetsom Beyaynet – a combination of all their vegan dishes.
SudWest Gyros & Co – From perfectly crisp Calamari, to Jamaican Jerk Chicken Gyros, to Classic Greek salads, the restaurant owners Paul Nakis, Nicholas Tsoukas, Jonathan Emile and Stellios Kiliaris have built the concept from the ground up with an innovative menu. The offerings are not limited to gyros – they also include delicious rotisserie chicken, available in classic, Greek, piri-piri, and Jamaican jerk style. While the bar and dining area are still closed, the restaurant has been offering a picnic basket experience, in addition to regular pickup service and app based delivery.
DaJen Eats – DaJen Eats features Jamaican-inspired dishes, re-imagined through a vegan lens. Head chef Jenneil Rose’s passion for the cuisine is evident in every bite, from the non-dairy sweets to the Jamaican Jackfruit sliders.
Jesse’s Rib Shack – Jesse’s serves fantastic BBQ at a reasonable price, with classic southern hospitality. Founded in 1987 by Jesse James Jackson, Jesse was inspired to provide his guests with southern style BBQ with an authentic taste. The ribs, fried fish, chicken wings, mac and cheese are all favorites, finished with pound cake or bread pudding for dessert. Just don’t miss the “Magic Sauce” which has become a household name, and creates the signature taste on the chicken and ribs!
Nikki’s Place – Nikki’s Place has been serving up traditional soul food since 1999. Owner Nick Aiken has been in the Food and Restaurant industry since 1952 when he began work in his Aunt’s restaurant, – and has since served Muhammad Ali, Coretta Scott King, and Elvis Presley. They’re best known for their pork chops, mac n cheese, mashed potatoes, collared greens and more.
Oley’s Kitchen & Smokehouse – Oley’s is an award-winning, family-run restaurant and catering business that specializes in BBQ, Caribbean and American foods across two locations in Orlando. Locals especially love their fall-off-the-bone BBQ feast, as well as their gourmet Oley’s Ultimate Burger.
Brown Estate – For an easy day trip to wine country, visit Brown Estate with a tasting room in the heart of downtown. Producing wine since 1996, they are known for “impeccable” Zinfandel, but also produce a number of other excellent wines including Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and blends.
Tadu Kitchen – With two locations in San Francisco, both in Mission Bay and the Tenderloin, Tadu serves authentic Ethiopian food. The co-owners moved to the US from Ethiopia and are now married with children. After a long, empty-handed search for good Ethiopian food in San Francisco, they decided to create their own restaurant, which is now very popular among locals.
Red Bay Coffee – Red Bay Coffee is a great go-to spot for a quick pick me up. Artist Keba Konte makes diversity, economic restoration, and sustainability front and center of his San Francisco Bay-area operation located in Oakland. The cafe is within a warehouse and can be a little hard to find, but it’s worth it! The beans are incredibly flavorful, and they have a killer VIetnamese cold brew. They roast blends, single origins, espresso, and a variety of other options. In addition to coffee beans, Red Bay also offers apparel, coffee supplies, and more for purchase. They are currently open for walk-up orders!
Sunset Cantina – Sunset Cantina, in the Outer Sunset District, serves delicious Mexican street food, Tequila and Mezcal. Cantina favorites are the hand made tortillas (daily), Al Pastor Tacos, Elote Machete Pozole and Baja shrimp tacos. They are currently open for to-go orders, including cocktails for the road.
Two Jacks Nik’s Place – In Lower Haight, Two Jacks Nik’s Place serves southern soul food with a heavy dose of seafood, and is well known for their delicious comfort food.
A Different Book List – This is an excellent Canadian multicultural bookstore specializing in literature from the African and Carribean Diaspora and the Global South. The owners are incredibly knowledgeable, and will not just welcome you into the store but help you find exactly what you’re looking for. It’s by far and away one of the city’s best independent bookstores.
Blooming Flower Bar – Blooming Flower Bar is a neighbourhood flower shop in Cabbagetown, with a wide assortment of fresh cut flowers sold by the stem, including beautiful bouquets. Also available are a unique selection of plant pots, plants, flower themed gift items and more.
The Green Jar Shop – An eco-friendly focused store, The Green Jar Shop has a great selection of sustainable products to help eliminate waste, from silicone food pouches to stainless steel straws and bamboo utensils. It’s a must-stop if sustainable living is high on your list!
Rasta Pasta – Rasta Pasta is a great Jamaican Italian Fusion Eatery (hence the name!). They serve up Jamaican classics like Ackee & Saltfish, which is Jamaica’s national dish, and Oxtail – as well as Italian staples like grilled panini and penne pasta. This restaurant is located in one of Toronto’s most vibrant and diverse neighbourhoods, and with the weather warming up, now is a great time to grab your takeout and sit right outside the restaurant to people-watch.
The Stockyards – You’ll probably have to wait in line here, but it’s worth it. One of the most beloved restaurants in the city, it feels like you’re walking into a family member’s kitchen – you’ll always be greeted with a big hello from the owner or one of the familiar faces. They have an open kitchen so you can watch your brisket being sliced, chicken getting fried, and your burgers being flipped right in front of you. Popular dishes include house-baked buttermilk biscuits with sausage gravy or chicken and waffles for brunch on the weekends, and grilled smashed burgers or BBQ Beef Brisket for lunch or dinner.