Eat This Now

Where to Find Outstanding Food From Black-Owned Restaurants in Greater Phoenix

Word of Mouth’s Demetrious Makel at his smoker.
Word of Mouth’s Demetrious Makel at his smoker. Jackie Mercandetti Photo
Sky-high plates of chicken and waffles in Youngtown. Crispy catfish po'boys in south Phoenix. Bites of Hoppin’ John that would transport you to the muggy outdoor cafe tables in the French Quarter and a few pasta dishes that will take you to Italy. The Valley is lucky to have a wide variety of Black-owned restaurants offering incredible food in vital spaces.

We have many suggestions. Here are several restaurants in greater Phoenix we recommend for today and well beyond.

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Chef Nik Fields, owner of The Chic Chef.
Bahar Anooshahr

Chic Chef Cafe

2302 North Central Avenue, Suite 3

Whether you're craving deviled eggs topped with grilled Cajun shrimp, wings smothered in Caribbean jerk barbecue sauce, or shrimp and lobster pasta with shitake mushrooms and garlic sauce, Chic Chef Cafe has you covered. Chef Nik Fields trained in Italy before opening her own kitchen, and she's got a marketplace next door with her own olive oils and spice blends to prove it. The menu and space are inspired by Fields' Brooklyn hip-hop heavy upbringing, with an industrial interior, a huge photo display of New York City, and menu item names like the Upper East Side, Mos Def, and the Illmatic. Ask for the Wu-Tang for a sweet and boozy watermelon mai tai served in a Chinese takeout container.
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The artfully plated chicken chicken and waffles dish from Rag's.
Lauren Cusimano

Rag’s Real Chicken & Waffles

12242 North 111th Avenue, Youngtown

Tucked away in the northwest Valley city of Youngtown, Rag’s Real Chicken & Waffles is a small, family-owned restaurant that plates sky-high chicken and waffles — truly, the dish has to be about six inches tall off the surface of the table. Aside from the huge portions, there is much more to appreciate here — like the sides, the live music, and the BYOB policy.

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Get them ATL style.
Lauren Cusimano

ATL Wings

Multiple Locations

For some seriously, seriously good wings, go to ATL Wings. Many wing options in Phoenix are pretty good, but these are some of the best. If you love a good dry rub, ATL Style should definitely be your order. Each piece, drum, or wing is hefty and evenly coated with that heavy, oily blend of herbs and spices. It’s no surprise they won a Best of Phoenix award in 2018.

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Dare we say, the same kind of pulled pork sandwich eaten by Keanu?
Lauren Cusimano

Honey Bear’s BBQ

5012 East Van Buren Street

Many restaurant owners have stories, but not all can recall a time they catered for the crew of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. It's true. Honey Bear’s BBQ owner Mark Smith remembers the first time this group of highly energetic and friendly young people walked into his barbecue restaurant in 1987. The next three months would be filled with some excellent adventures. Also, you can drink the sauce here, and many do.

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Mrs. White’s Golden Rule Café is one of the top restaurants in town.
Jacob Tyler Dunn

Mrs. White’s Golden Rule Café

808 East Jefferson Street

Mrs. White’s Golden Rule Café is one of the city’s top restaurants. Named for founder Elizabeth White, it serves utterly timeless food. The writing on the wall literally informs you this 50-year-old restaurant is where you’ll find one of Phoenix’s most famous Southern dishes: the golden-brown Southern fried chicken (with suggested sides of cabbage and black eyed peas). Mrs. White has spinoffs everywhere, including her grandson, Larry “Lo-Lo” White’s spot, Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles.

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Stephen Jones of The Larder + The Delta.
Jacob Tyler Dunn

the Larder + the Delta

200 West Portland Street, #101

Operated by chef Stephen Jones, the Larder + the Delta is also one of Phoenix’s top restaurants. We reviewed the restaurant in 2018, and we stand by it. The restaurant's newer location is in sleeker digs, but the menu is still killer Southern fare. Entrees include pork ribs and chicken fried chicken, but smaller plates are the main draw here. The cauliflower is made with sauce from Cutino Sauce Co. (another Black-owned business), the Hoppin’ John makes you feel like you're in NOLA, and the crispy pig ears are dusted in Cheetos.

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An order of the fried chicken at Stacy's Off Da Hook BBQ and Soul Food.
Lauren Cusimano

Stacy's Off Da Hook BBQ and Soul Food

1804 West Glendale Avenue

We think Stacy's Off Da Hook BBQ and Soul Food has some the best soul food in town. In addition to a cozy dining area, this casual soul food restaurant serves barbecue, fried chicken, gizzards, and ox tails. That crispy fried chicken is some of the best in town; it comes from a secret recipe concocted by owner Stacy Phipps himself — who most likely will be in the restaurant when you visit. We also gave it a Best of Phoenix award in 2019 for its food in general.

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The doro wat at Cafe Lalibela.
Tom Carlson

Café Lalibela

849 West University Drive, Tempe

Metro Phoenix has several standout African restaurants and coffee shops. But one is a cut above, and we've deemed it one of the Valley's top restaurants. Located in Tempe, the husband-and-wife-run Café Lalibela is a cozy Ethiopian restaurant that has occupied a strip mall suite for decades. The eatery specializes in vegetarian dishes, though several meat items are on the menu like the key sega wat, cubes of spicy, stewed beef. Injera, or a crepe-like sourdough bread made with teff, is served with most meals.

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Jason Higgins and his son Rashaad operate Jupiter Rings Wings and More.
Jupiter Rings

Jupiter Rings Wings and More

739 East Dunlap Avenue

If you’re looking for a spot to please both those who do and don't eat meat, try Jupiter Rings Wings and More. Jason Higgins came to Phoenix with just a buffalo sauce recipe. He since created a popular vegan version and opened a restaurant — which is currently operating from a takeout-only ghost kitchen. Despite the move, the food is still fantastic. Check out our thoughts from our first taste in June 2020.

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Monroe's Hot Chicken has the best lunch in downtown.
Chris Malloy

Monroe’s Hot Chicken

Multiple Locations

Remember when hot chicken was all anyone could talk about around here? One place has done it extra well — but not extra well done. The sandwiches are juicy and hot at Monroe’s Hot Chicken, which we discovered in a very early visit. But we had such a good time on follow-up visits we gave the restaurant, owned by Larry White (also the man behind Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles), a Best of Phoenix 2019 award for best downtown lunch. What's more, there's now a Tempe location.

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A mixed meat platter and armada of sides from JL Smokehouse.
Chris Malloy

JL Smokehouse

2010 East Broadway Road

Smoke master James Lewis once told our former food critic “I got the best pulled pork in the country.” Lewis' barbecue joint, JL Smokehouse, uses oak and mesquite in service of exceptional menu items like the Chicago sausage sandwich, the brisket, pulled pork, rib tips, and sides like the coleslaw, potato salad, mac and cheese made with smoked gouda, and beans that taste halfway between barbecue and Cajun. Just to name a few.

The Jumbo Philly Crack Wings from Trapp Haus BBQ in downtown Phoenix.
Chris Malloy

Trapp Haus BBQ

511 East Roosevelt Street

Roosevelt Row is known for cocktails, galleries, and maybe a craft beer spot, which is what makes Trapp Haus BBQ all the more worth a visit. Proprietor Phil "the Grill" Johnson is a "seasoned barbecue master," and he plies his trade on standout items like the Jumbo Philly Crack Wings, which we gave a Best of Phoenix award in 2019. Other memorable menu items include the St. Louis ribs, burnt ends, and fried chicken skins.

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The amber-hued hot sauce from Island Sensation Cuisine brings a tropical rush.
Chris Malloy

Island Sensation Cuisine

830 East Indian School Road

We’re big fans of quality, inexpensive lunches, which is why we also recommend Island Sensation Cuisine. We recommend you start with the house-made ginger beer brew and then work your way down the menu. Chef Lloyd Campbell offers classically Jamaican food, which he fine-tuned in culinary school in Kingston. Plates include classic stewed oxtail with gravy and rice, jerk chicken thighs, and sides like “island” coleslaw.

Stewed chicken, house-made cheese, cabbage, and greens on injera from Authentic Ethio African Spices.
Chris Malloy

Authentic Ethio African Spices

1740 East McDowell Road

Spotted by the colors of the Ethiopian flag at 18th Street and McDowell Road, Authentic Ethio African Spices is another one of the Valley’s outstanding African restaurants. Injera is easily accessible, as is ginger-spiked chicken stew, and fresh cheeses, and vegetarian options. We also gave this cozy African café a Best of Phoenix award in 2018 after a couple of mesmerizing visits.

Ribs and brisket smoked over almond wood in West Alley's concrete pit.
Chris Malloy

West Alley BBQ

111 West Boston Street, Chandler

We’ve been fans of West Alley BBQ in downtown Chandler since it opened in 2018. After attending Chandler’s Great American BBQ & Beer Festival in early 2017, owners Bardo and Christian Brantley decided to spring for a storefront in the east Valley. The barbecue joint specializes in St. Louis-style ribs, Tennessee-style barbecue, and more. It also had its own installment in our Smoke Rings series.

The Original Pancake House has been around since 1988.
New Times Archives

The Original Pancake House

6840 East Camelback Road, Scottsdale

Some restaurant recommendations hardly need to be stated. If you want pancakes, The Original Pancake House in downtown Scottsdale is where you go. The breakfast chain has been around since 1953, and the Scottsdale location has been open since 1988, when the griddle was first overseen by owner Ron “The Pancake Man” Horton. The Midcentury vibe, coupled with house specialties like the apple pancake, Dutch baby, and Ron’s Special Southwest Eggs, make this place a real first meal gem. Read our 2012 ode to its 49’er FlapJack here.

Gojo Restaurant

3015 East Thomas Road, #101

Gojo Restaurant is named after the Amharic word for hut, and the place is indeed cozy and homelike. Like most quality Ethiopian restaurants, Gojo serves a variety of flavorful stews, like doro wot (chicken), key wot (beef), and alitcha wot (lamb). It also hosts bunna — an Ethiopian coffee ceremony — on Mondays when the dining room is open. For a deeper dive, check out our piece from our 2015 visit.

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Brown stew chicken and goat curry at Hot Pot Caribbean Cuisine.
Jackie Mercandetti

Hot Pot Caribbean Cuisine

2081 North Arizona Avenue, # 132, Chandler

Around for more than 10 years, Hot Pot Caribbean Cuisine is a small restaurant inside a featureless strip mall in Chandler. But the dishes here are multiple times more eye-catching than the eatery’s exterior. Hot Pot serves a mean Brown stew chicken, plus goat curry, oxtails, and deep-fried Escovitch fish. For more recommendations and ravings, check out our 2017 review.

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A rum-heavy Dark and Stormy made with Big Marble ginger beer.
Chris Malloy

Big Marble Organics

Served around the Valley.

Big Marble Organics was created thanks to The Breadfruit & Rum Bar's usual ginger beer provider going dark. Searches for a good replacement weren’t going well, and the Rum Bar, which is currently closed, stopped making Dark and Stormy cocktails. So, co-owner Dwayne Allen made his own. And we’re fans. In addition to our informal review of this Arizona-made ginger beer, we provided a Dark and Stormy recipe given by Allen himself.

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Word of Mouth’s Demetrious Makel at his smoker.
Jackie Mercandetti Photo

Word of Mouth Grill

7660 South McClintock Drive, Tempe

In 2020, we took an extended tour of the Valley’s grilling, smoking, and saucing world in “Cafe Review: Journeying Through Phoenix’s Thriving Black Barbecue Scene.” During it, we met Demetrious Makel and his wife, Jacque Gomez-Makel of Word of Mouth Grill in Tempe. The Makels are big on seasoning but make sure there is plenty of flavor in the meat as well. We recommended his house-made sauces, of which there are 10, and the “uncommonly juicy” rib tips.

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Dana Dumas, owner of SugarJam Southern Kitchen.
Melissa Fossom

SugarJam Southern Kitchen

15111 North Hayden Road, #170 Scottsdale

Last year, SugarJam BakeShop & Bistro became SugarJam Southern Kitchen. And with the rebrand came a location change. Owner Dana Dumas moved her bakery, bar, and breakfast spot, but she definitely brought her deep fryer. For fans of crispy chicken, this is exciting news. Brunch items include Kickin' Fried Chicken and Buttermilk Biscuits and Papa's Brisket and Biscuits. Pair any of that with SugarJam's signature cocktails like a Peach Cobler Mule or the Wake Up Mary and you'll be flyin'.

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The duck confit from Sapiens Paleo Kitchen.
Sapiens Paleo Kitchen

Sapiens Paleo Kitchen

10411 East McDowell Mountain Ranch Road, Scottsdale

At Sapiens Paleo Kitchen in Scottsdale, French cuisine is offered via a 100 percent paleo and gluten-free menu. Helpfully named menu items include the Keto Burger and the Paleo Meatloaf, while other entrees include French rabbit stew, Sapiens Duck and duck confit, free-range chicken, and the Vegetable Napoleon. Plus, every entree has a keto-friendly substitute option that will swap out any vegetable high in sugars such as potatoes, carrots, and sweet potatoes. Non-dairy desserts are also available, including clafoutis made with almond flour.

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The Chick'n-Less Po'Boy at Maya's Cajun Kitchen
Maya Bartlett

And a whole bunch of vegan businesses…

There is a growing number of Black-owned vegan food businesses around the country — and across metropolitan Phoenix, including new restaurants and home-based bakeries. Starting with pastries and touching on plant-based soul food, here are nine Black-owned vegan food ventures in the Valley.

Editor's note: This story was originally published on June 5, 2020. It was updated on June 16, 2022.
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