From the people, to the culture, to food – there’s a reason 30 million people visit this city each year. But more importantly, Black people are the fabric of what makes Chicago truly unique. Chicago’s African-American roots are well before the historic Great Migration to Chicago, but rather with Chicago’s founding by the Haitian-American Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable.
This important history has created the foundation for the number of thriving amount of Black-owned restaurants and businesses throughout the city. So when planning a visit to the Windy City, it’s important to show them some love too. Supporting Black-owned small businesses fosters economic growth, levels the playing field for all, and it enriches their social fabric.
From bookstores to bars, here are some of our favorite loud and proud Black-owned Chicago businesses.
Cleo’s Southern Cuisine
Thanks to Chef Kristen Ashley, the chef behind Cleo’s Southern Cuisine in Bronzeville, her Creole and southern-style food has drawn such acclaim throughout the city that it has been known to draw lines around the block.This owner/chef brings her elevated fast-casual Creole southern comfort food to the neighborhood where she was raised and seeing that this flagship location is staffed completely by her family, it is her hope to continue bringing a welcoming family vibe to her customers of which they have fallen in love with.
Semicolon Bookstore — Chicago’s only woman and Black-owned bookstore and gallery space —has been catering to a loyal and thoughtful following since 2019. Founded by DL Mullen, who holds a PhD in literary theory, she is committed to nurturing the connection between literature, art, and the pursuit of knowledge; while also using the power of words to better Chicago’s community.
Carver 47 Food & Wellness Market
Under the culinary direction of visionary chef and acclaimed vocalist Lizz Wright, Carver 47 Food & Wellness Market (C47) serves the community as a casual cafe with a well-crafted menu of healthy and soulful offerings. With a delicious nutrient-forward menu servicing the greater Chicago community, C47 also boasts a funky greenhouse bar, art gallery, farm table, and outdoor garden Housed inside the distinguished Little Black Pearl Art & Design Academy (North Kenwood, Chicago), C47 invite guests to reflect upon the life of Dr. George Washington Carver.
360 Mind Body Soul
This group fitness gym is dedicated to mental and physical fitness transformations. Founded by Ashanti Johnson, the gym offers 3 fitness floors, including a barre, cycle, and functional training studio with over ten certified fitness instructors. Whether in person or online, 360 Mind Body Soul offers many ways to reach your physical and mental goals.
DuSable Museum of African American History
DuSable Museum of African American History is the nation’s first independent museum dedicated to the collection, preservation and study of the history and culture of Africans and Americans of African descent. Exhibits, concerts, films, children’s events and literary discussions are just a few of the institution’s various programs offered.
Known for offering an excellent dining experience and authentic Southern cuisine, Virtue is a haven for southern cuisine lovers. Stationed in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, staples include gumbo, blackened catfish and a variety of hearty dishes from short ribs to lamb. Helmed by Chef Erick Williams, he is not only a chef and restaurant owner, but most importantly, he is an advocate fighting for equality in the Black community. His efforts were most recently recognized by Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot who named him one of 10 Chicagoans to receive the Mayoral Medal of Honor.
The Chicago Mahogany Tours
Dilla – who is known as Chicago’s “TikTok Historian” and founder of The Chicago Mahogany Tours conducts tours of predominantly Black neighborhoods on Chicago’s South Side. His bi-weekly bus tour is available for purchase on Groupon and has taken guests to the DuSable Museum of African American History, the Wabash YMCA (the birthplace of Black History Month), childhood homes of iconic Black Chicagoans, Pilgrim Baptist Church (the birthplace of gospel music) and so much more.
Windy City Ribs & Whiskey
Windy City Ribs & Whiskey is not only known for serving up great whiskey and amazing ribs, but for the experience we create that feels like you’re coming home. With the restaurant situated near Wintrust Arena and McCormick Place, not only do they offer some of the best comfort food, but great convenience as well.
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