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Posted: Jun 17, 2020
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By: Jordan Scott

Our Favorite Black-Owned Restaurants & Bars For Date Night

We're all looking for more ways to support the Black community right now. Making sure our money goes toward Black businesses as often as possible is key to reaching a more equal society.

Here at idk tonight, we knew the easiest way we could do our part was to highlight the incredible Black-owned businesses we've been featuring for the past two years in epic date nights. Below you'll find 20 delicious, magical, and often sexy (because date night, duh) restaurants, bars and cafes that are Black-owned and operated! Put your money where your mouth is and take your honey to one of these fantastic establishments tonight. Note: Most of these places also do delivery and pick-up.

01

Ponty Bistro

01

Harlem—2375 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard

Between the modern matte-black entrance, marble tabletops, and African art donning the walls, this charming bistro is a necessary stop for all Harlem-bound foodies and romantics alike.

02

Tsion Cafe

Tsion Cafe

Hamilton Heights—763 Saint Nicholas Avenue

If you’re looking for some of the best Ethiopian food in the city, look no further than Tsion Cafe. Influenced by the worldly travels of owner Beejhy Barhany, Tsion Cafe’s menu features authentic dishes that are seasoned with herbs and spices sourced from Ethiopia and the Mediterranean.

03

Mikey Likes It

Mikey Likes It

East Village—199 Avenue A, Manhattan

I’ll take a scoop of Hillary Clinton and Jay-Z, please. A master at flavor and texture, Mikey (Michael Cole) creates unique, custom ice cream flavors inspired by pop-culture icons by combining the best locally sourced ingredients in the New York area at his store Mikey Likes It. He’s garnered national coverage from leading publications including The New York Times, O, The Oprah Magazine, Essence and New York Magazine. It’s legit and it’s your dessert stop for the night. Create your own flavor. Mikey himself says “you name it, we'll make it.”

04

Ode to Babel

04

Crown Heights—772 Dean Street, Brooklyn

The first thing you’ll see at Ode To Babel is the plants in the front window. Once you’re inside, this stylish lounge bursts to life with expertly placed greenery, chairs, and sofas patterned in funky designs, and colorful art. The art is for sale, and the spot prides itself on showcasing all kinds of art, from paintings to live performances.


05

Dick and Jane's

Dick and Jane's

Fort Greene—266 Adelphi Street

Upon entry, this Fort Greene speakeasy will surprise you with all the sexiness hidden behind its wooden garage door. Darkly romantic, this cocktail joint is loved by locals for its down-to-earth bartenders who sling inventive, fresh drinks that rotate with the seasons.

06

Yatenga

Yatenga

Harlem—3023, 2269 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Boulevard #1

This pleasant French spot sits in the heart of Harlem, beckoning you in with sunny colors and a rustic cuteness that’s almost as heartwarming as the food. Whether you decide to grab seats outside or snuggle indoors, absolutely do not forget to indulge in their gooey bechamel, parmesan, and parsley macaroni and cheese.

07

Urban Vegan Kitchen

07

Greenwich Village—41 Carmine Street

What's in a good date night? Good food. And lots of laughing. Hence, this plan. Head to Urban Vegan Kitchen to enjoy delicious organic vegan food and their weekly comedy special. The show is hosted every Monday by New York’s own Dara Jermott—comedy lovers might recognize her from #WCW Wednesday Comedy Workout at Brooklyn House of Comedy. The spot has happy hour from 5-7 p.m. and the show starts at 6, so grab your (inexpensive) drinks and settle down together to laugh your hearts out for the hour. Best part? The show is free.


08

Sweet Science

Sweet Science

Williamsburg—135 Graham Avenue

The quirky Sweet Science is known for its juicy burgers, so you'll want to get yourself one of those. They also have Louisiana-style comfort food and creative cocktails like the Brooklyn 75, made with Devil’s Spring vodka and watermelon juice. The cocktails are rated with a devil emoji, presumably for strength...but don’t be afraid to go for a four devil drink *insert devil emoji here*


09

The Crabby Shack

The Crabby Shack

Crown Heights—613 Franklin Avenue


You'll find summer in full force at The Crabby Shack in Crown Heights, where they dish out warm weather seafood faves all year long. The servers are funny, engaging and make excellent suggestions, so don't be shy in asking for some guidance. Ordering a half pound "Dungeness Crab" can feel overwhelming. P.s.—don't try to come here on a Tuesday—they're closed!


10

Buka

10

Clinton Hill—946 Fulton Street

Buka in Clinton Hill is a candlelit Nigerian restaurant where cozy is the name of the game. The food’s authentic, and the vibe is casual. Just keep in mind that your taste buds are stepping out of their comfort zone; goat pepper soup, large West African land snails, and cornmeal fufu may not sound like the traditional cooking you’re used to, but getting out of your comfort zone will definitely do this date night justice. If you really can handle a new experience, Isiewu (a.k.a. a goat head cooked in Igbo spices) isn’t as scary as it sounds, and deserves a try.


11

Ruby's Vintage Harlem

Ruby's Vintage Harlem

Harlem—2340 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Boulevard

Music, conversations, and connections—these are the main pillars of the intimate salon era that Ruby’s Vintage Harlem takes to heart. Taking its name from playwright and civil activist Ruby Dee (who lived in the building in the 1960s), the bar features striking portraits and vintage records that’ll get you feeling cozy at once.


12

Cafe Rue Dix

Cafe Rue Dix

Crown Heights—1451 Bedford Avenue

French-Senegalese fusion at Cafe Rue Dix is a brasserie that feels like the best of Paris with a funky African remix. The cozy space is adorned with African masks and trinkets and features open glass doors for airy dining. Indulge in classic French fare—steak sandwich, moules frites, duck confit—or go for something slightly outside your comfort zone. The mafe, a spicy Senegalese beef stew in a peanut butter sauce, might even be better than sex.

13

SISTERS

13

Clinton Hill—900 Fulton Street, Brooklyn

SISTERS is a lively neighborhood restaurant whose interior looks fresh out of the pages of Architectural Digest. Choose from the selection of interesting cocktails—we like Parliament of Owls (with Boukman rum, pasubio vino amaro, and tamarind cordial) and the aptly named Hundred Hand Slap (jalapeno-infused tequila, ginger, cardamom bitters)—as you people-watch from the bar.

14

Sylvia's

Sylvia's

Harlem—328 Malcolm X Blvd

Named for the “Queen of Soul Food,” expect to indulge in savory dishes like oven baked half chicken, fried fish, and baked ham at Sylvia's in Harlem. If you still have room when you’re done, split one of Sylvia’s delicious Southern desserts, such as the peach cobbler or sweet potato pie. This Harlem spot is a favorite drop-in spot for political leaders including Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama, and Bill Clinton, all of whom have dined here.

15

Ital Kitchen

Ital Kitchen

Crown Heights—1032 Union Street

A surprisingly well-kept secret in Crown Heights, Ital Kitchen blends modern sensibilities toward ethical foods with the explosive flavor of Caribbean cuisine for a unique vegan experience. It’s tiny, cozy, eclectic and colorful, with a back garden to heighten the fresh, earthy experience of downing Caribbean favorites like veggie jerk chicken and Thai-Fi stew. It’s BYOB, so don’t forget to stock up on your way from the park.


16

67 Orange Street

16

Harlem—2082 Frederick Douglass Boulevard

Walk into a world of cocktails at 67 Orange Street, dubbed Harlem’s favorite cocktail destination. A cozy and culturally rich destination with speakeasy vibes, this cocktail bar offers an expansive list of boozy options. If you’re lucky, you’ll meet Leo, the best damn mixologist we ever did see.


17

Bunna Cafe

Bunna Cafe

Bushwick—1084 Flushing Avenue

Head over to Bunna Cafe for the best Ethiopian food in the neighborhood. This vegan spot may be meatless but is definitely not dry, so give some attention to their selection of Ethiopian beers or their honey wine, otherwise known as the nectar of the gods. The geometric art, intricate wooden shelves, and thatched hutch give the restaurant a rustic vibe that’s a feast for the eyes. And speaking of feasts—order the feast for two and you won’t be sorry. Along with sharing 9 of the cafe’s best dishes, you’ll have the option of feeding each other injera-wrapped bites with your bare hands.

18

Lolo's Seafood Shack

Lolo's Seafood Shack

Morningside Heights—303 West 116th Street

Get your coastal fix at Lolo’s Seafood Shack. Combining influences from both the Caribbean and Cape Cod, this small but vibrant hole-in-the-wall restaurant is a seafood staple in Morningside Heights. It's colorful, beachy aesthetic—with decorative driftwood, pastel hues, and their patio “beach bar”—perfectly complements their bold seafood-heavy menu. Standouts include their Belizean Conch fritters and crispy “shark” and bake sandwich with Spiny Dogfish.

19

Red Rooster

19

Harlem—310 Lenox Avenue

Head to St. Nicholas Ave for dinner at Red Rooster—celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson’s unique creation. They serve up American comfort food with a twist, like Marcus’ Cornbread with honey butter and tomato jam. We recommend trying out one of the Fried Bird dishes too, because nobody does it better than Ethiopian-born and Swedish-raised Samuelsson. As it's always packed (with good reason), expect a wait time if you're walking in. You’re sure to see a diverse crowd with couples dancing to the jazzy live music and enjoying Red Rooster’s soul-warming dishes.

20

Peaches Hot House

Peaches Hot House

Bed-Stuy—415 Tompkins Avenue

The secret to soul food is a generous helping of both love and butter. Peaches Hot House, sister to Southern restaurant Peaches, has this figured out. Serving up sweet tea, bourbon cocktails, and locally-sourced ingredients, this Bed-Stuy offshoot of the original shines most when it works its magic on poultry. You don’t go to a dim sum restaurant for the fries, and just the same, you don’t come to Peaches Hot House without ordering the Hot House speciality, the Crispy Fried chicken. Served up regular, hot, or Nashville Style extra hot, you know this urban country cafe isn’t messing around when it comes to their crispy bird.


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