A growing guide to Black-owned restaurants and food businesses in the South Sound

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In this current wave of protests against institutionalized racism following the death of Geroge Floyd and Manuel Ellis — and other Black men and women — at the hands of police, readers of The News Tribune and in communities across the country have sought an avenue of support beyond simply posting a message of solidarity.

Supporting Black-owned businesses is one way to not only put money in the hands of those who run and work in these spaces but to also delve into deeper conversations of structural racism.

“We can’t get too preoccupied that business development will be the ultimate answer to the critical issues,” said Marcia Chatelain, professor of history and African American studies at Georgetown University. “If people want to order takeout to support a black-owned business, or try to be really discerning about the vendors that it uses in its own business, I think that’s perfectly fine and it’s laudable.”

But money alone won’t eradicate the obstacles the Black community continues to face.

“After the transaction, the time is always right to ask questions about the structure,” said Chatelain.

Are local banks offering loans to business owners and homebuyers? How do local tax policies affect what kinds of businesses enter certain neighborhoods, and who owns them? Do the nearby schools have valuable resources?

In short, she said, we should be asking, “What are the consequences not just for that business but for every person that lives in that neighborhood?”

This guide is by no means comprehensive, nor is it the only one, and TNT Diner and The News Tribune welcomes reader suggestions. We hope it can become a dynamic resource for the South Sound community to support some iconic Black-owned restaurants and some creative Black entrepreneurs.

There are mainstays like Ezell’s Famous Chicken, first opened in 1968 by Lewis Rudd and Faye Stephens in Seattle, now with 15 locations and two food trucks.

There are hot sauce makers, spice blenders and bitters purveyors using Pacific Northwest ingredients.

There are bakers whipping up everything from cupcakes and cookies to cotton candy.

There are Cajun pros and barbecue aficionados.

There are musicians cooking soul food and urban farming specialists.

To start, we reached beyond Pierce County and into south King County, and even onto Vashon Island. The idea, after all, is to encourage exploration, and to start a conversation.

To connect with other Black-owned businesses, the Tacoma Urban League maintains a Black business directory, which The News Tribune recently profiled. The Eat Okra app is another useful resource for finding Black-owned restaurants across the country, including in the Puget Sound.

Know a restaurant or food business to add? Send tips to ksherred@thenewstribune.com, or message TNT Diner on Facebook, Twitter @tntdiner and Instagram @tnt_diner.

Altha’s Cajun Spices & Deli

201 E Meeker St., Kent, 253-719-2242

Cajun eats from a Louisiana native, plus retail spices, sausage and meats, including alligator and frog legs. Shop in-person or through the online store.

Beau Legs Fish ‘N’ Chip

8765 Tallon Lane NE, Lacey, 360-915-6328

Cajun and Creole mainstays, plus rarer finds such as wild turtle soup

Bite Me, Inc.

3827 100th St. SW, Lakewood, 877-532-2483

Wholesale cookie baker that supports women and immigrant empowerment with every sale. Look for Friday’s Cookies and Bite Me Cookies on store shelves, though she also bakes private label that would carry the retailer’s brand.

The Bleu Note Restaurant & Lounge

6008 Mt. Tacoma Dr. SW, Lakewood, 253-433-3974

Jazz lounge with Cajun fare and Carolina-style BBQ owned by an Army vet

Bob’s Bar-B-Q Pit

911 S. 11th St., Tacoma, 253-627-4899

Family-fun barbecue from the Clark brothers, with recipes from their grandparents

Boss Hog BBQ

10835 E. Marginal Way S., Tukwila, 206-661-4716

Barbecue and seafood inspired by family recipes, with catering available

Campfire Coffee

1554 Market St., Tacoma, no phone number yet

Wood-fired coffee roaster with a social justice mission to get kids outside. Owners Quincy and Whitni Henry have been selling coffee and swag online leading up to the opening of their cafe in downtown Tacoma, which TNT Diner previewed in April.

Collard Greens And Other Things

302 E. 26th St., Tacoma, 253-625-5373

Southern specialties and unique dishes including collard greens soup and Soul Rolls

Dowd’s BBQ

Mobile and catering only, 253-830-2086

The Dowd family ran a restaurant on Steele Street in Parkland until recently, but they are still available for catering and occasionally pop-up in their truck.

Essence Lounge

3829 6th Ave., Tacoma, 253-503-0276

Southern recipes mixed with Puerto Rican and Peruvian flavors from Christina Hernandez at this new lounge on Sixth Avenue, from the owner of the late Soul Restaurant in Proctor and Vinum downtown.

Ezell’s Famous Chicken

1902 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma, 253-572-4277

2020 South 320th St., Federal Way, 253-429-2634

25616 102nd Place SE, Kent, 253-854-4535

Nearly four decades of family meals, now with 15 locations around Washington

Fergie’s Smokehouse

505 182nd St. E, Spanaway, 253-359-8989

Full-service caterer with Kansas City-style barbecue, including smoked BBQ chicken, pulled pork and ribs, plus brisket. The family-run business accepts pre-orders for pickup and hosts occasional pop-ups.

The Fish House Cafe

1814 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma, 253-383-7144

Daytime destination for fish and chips, fried shrimp, burgers, and mac and cheese

Garden Gourmet Salads

1623 E. 72nd St., Tacoma, 253-433-3736

Fresh salads and grain bowls packed with veggies and drizzled with homemade dressing, plus soups, smoothies and sweets like chocolate energy truffles from chef-owner Nyesha Jones

Garden of Eden Urban Farming

Vertical grower and farm training program for young adults, partnered with Maxine Mimms Academy and the Latino Educational Training Institute

Purchase produce (right now, limited to microgreens) online with free local delivery

Go Philly Cheesesteaks & Wings

1402 Tacoma Ave. S, Tacoma, 253-572-3000

7421 Custer Road W., Lakewood, 253-449-3100

A dozen varieties of the East Coast sandwich, plus wings and fried fish galore

Gravy

17629 Vashon Highway SW, Vashon, 206-661-7629

New American cuisine with Southern and French influences from chef Dre Neeley. Currently open for pre-order takeout on weekends.

HamHock Jones Soul Shack

6101 Steilacoom Blvd. SW, Tacoma, 253-888-7600

Food truck serving generous portions of fried fish and shrimp, cheesesteaks and burgers with live music on Friday and Saturday, weather permitting

Hot Babe Hot Sauce

Find at farmers markets (Tacoma/Ruston and Broadway, Olympia, Seattle/Ballard) and at retailers including Tacoma Boys, Marlene’s Market and Olympia Food Co-op. You can also order online.

Caribbean flavors from locally grown Scotch Bonnets, Scorpions, habaneros and more

KJ’s Cakery Bakery

204 Central Ave. N #102, Kent, 253-277-2516

Cupcakes, cake pops, cotton candy and more sweet treats at the shop, plus custom cake orders with clever flavor combos like Chocolate Sriracha

Lizzie Lou’s Comfort Food & Lizzie Lou’s Too

2302 Pacific Highway E. (inside Destination Harley Davidson), Fife, 253-284-4611

Food truck, cafe and caterer known for catfish, Crab Crackin’ Fries and Soul Rolls

Love by the Slice

2501 E. D St. (inside Freighthouse Square), Tacoma, 253-588-2253

Bakery featuring cupcakes and cakes in an array of flavors, like Luscious Lemon and Dreamy Coconut, plus cookies and pound cake. Cassandra Williams also accepts custom orders.

Melon Seed Deli

3807 Center St., Tacoma, 253-279-0029

Large menu of salads, sliders with everything from cold cuts to BBQ pulled pork and jambalaya, plus playful snacks including cheesy bread and Cool Ranch Dorito nachos. Frozen yogurt bar and other fun desserts, too.

Nana’s Southern Kitchen

10234 SE 256th St., Kent, 253-243-6711

Southern favorites, including sides like string beans and cabbage, with rotating desserts

Olive Branch Cafe & Tea Room

2501 E. D St., Tacoma, 253-961-7600

Cozy locale for tea and lunch decorated with antique finds inside Freighthouse Square

Quickie Too

1324 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma, 253-572-4549

Vegan comfort food, including house-smoked tofu burgers to seitan hoagies, from a mother and daughter duo in a standalone building in the heart of Hilltop

Reverend Al’s Bonafide Potents

Find at the Proctor Farmers Market, or order online

Bitters, tinctures and shrubs for cocktails and sodas, made with PNW and Fair Trade ingredients

Southern Kitchen

1716 6th Ave., Tacoma, 253-627-4282

Longstanding destination for Southern specialties in an intimate dining room with familial, memorable service

Uncle Thurm’s Soul Food

3709 S. G St., Tacoma, 253-475-1881

Soul food and Cajun cooking with occasional buffets, plus live jazz every Friday and R&B tunes Saturday

Yellow Bird Catering

6324 E. McKinley Ave., Tacoma, 253-441-7282

Full-service caterer offering meal packages featuring mains like BBQ pork chops, pan-seared cod in a tomato-basil sauce and garlic-rosemary chicken wings

Want to keep up with restaurant news and stories of the tastemakers of the South Sound? Sign up for TNT Diner’s newsletter to receive food and drink news in your inbox every Thursday.

Kristine Sherred joined The News Tribune in December 2019. She spent the past decade immersed in the culinary scene of Chicago and, for a time, covered the global chocolate and snacks industries. An avid home cook and beer/cocktail pro, she now explores all things edible and sippable throughout Pierce County. Reach her also at @kriscarasher on Twitter.


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