11 Nov 16 Black-Owned Culinary Businesses in Tallahassee
Tallahassee is Florida’s capital, the eighth-largest city in the state, and the largest city in the Florida Panhandle. It’s a huge college town, home to Florida State University (FSU), nationally ranked for its academics and research, along with its championship Florida State Seminoles. The star of Tallahassee is the world renowned HBCU, Florida A&M University affectionately known as FAMU. Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) is an 1890 land grant, doctoral/research institution devoted to student success at the undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and professional levels. From “The Marching 100” to the “FAMU Rattlers”, the university continues its rich legacy and historic mission of educating Black Americans and embracing all dimensions of the diaspora.
During the early 1800s, Tallahassee was the heart of the state’s Cotton Belt and the hub of its slave trade. But by the 1950s, this once-small Southern town became active in civil rights protests, and since the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Tallahassee voters have elected Black state and local politicians.
Today, Tallahassee is about 34% Black—and still known for its progressive activism. It also boasts many museums, the arts and culture district Railroad Square Art Park, and several food festivals. You don’t have to wait for one of those to sample the best eats in Tallahassee, though. Check out our picks for the top Black-owned culinary businesses in Tallahassee, including restaurants, bakeries, and food trucks, below.
Often located near the intersection of Tennessee Street and Ocala Road, FL
A frequent sight at FAMU events and food festivals, Agapé’s Lemonade travels around Tallahassee, sharing its original recipe, its mango-flavored Sunshine Lemonade, blueberry-flavored Star Lemonade, and the simply Wonderful Lemonade, adding pineapple and strawberry. It also promotes autism awareness. Check out its Facebook page to find out where to grab a cup or a gallon, which Agapé’s drops off at local supermarkets.
1174 Capital Circle SE, Tallahassee, FL
Find Tallahassee soul food and seafood courtesy of Chef Green Hawkins at Crabs on the Run, which cooks up a lot more than just tasty snow crabs. We’re talking combos such as shrimp over crab rice, jerk chicken or oxtails over yellow rice, and mussels with corn, egg, potatoes, and sausage. Can’t decide what to try? Add shrimp or a snow crab cluster to any meal, and don’t forget the seafood sauce: traditional garlic butter, garlic lemon pepper, spicy, mild, or “Boom Smack.”
2033 S. Adams Street, Tallahassee, FL
Owner Jarrett Maloy brings some New Orleans flair to Tally and raises money to develop student-athletes with his SneauxBalls. Create your own traditional shaved ice with flavors such as Bahama Mama, Passion Fruit, Blue Hawaiian, or Pineapple, or choose one of the cake-stuffed Sneauxballs for a truly decadent treat. Top it off with Creole Cream, whipped cream, chocolate syrup, or caramel syrup to make the day extra sweet.
2525 Apalachee Parkway, Suite 5, Tallahassee, FL
While lots of Black-owned restaurants in Tallahassee love to feed the soul, Tally Kombucha takes a fully holistic approach. Owner Michaela says her homemade effervescent tea fermented with SCOBies (or symbiotic cultures of bacteria and yeast) helped clear her brain fog, gastritis, and inflammation. Her online shop features kombucha, of course, but also other teas, vegan and gluten-free granola, elderberry syrup, and Bucha Rollups for snacking. Each is infused with Tally Kombucha, mango, or a blend of pineapple and coconut.
1611 N. Monroe Street, Tallahassee, FL
Lake Ella is known for its community, one that Chef Leon C. Brunson, an FSU alum, reflects on in his restaurant nestled in a cozy cottage. You’ll find no processed foods at Leon’s, just soups, salads, sandwiches, and other American cuisines with Brunson’s Afro-Latino touch. While the menu might change by the week, expect Brunson favorites such as birria, a full-bodied stew; shrimp and grits; lobster tacos featuring lime crema; braised lamb shank; and white chocolate crème brûlée.
1223 N. Monroe Street, Tallahassee, FL
Strike Nutrition knocks out the notion that health and wellness have to be bland or boring with a menu that includes protein donuts. Its energy teas include The Rattlah, which supports the immune system with vitamin C and zinc, and the Venom Express, which keeps you hydrated and focused without a caffeine crash. Its shakes, such as Peach Cobbler and Sweet Potato Pie, have 250 calories or less, along with 24 grams of protein and 21 vitamins and minerals.
This black-owned vegan bakery in Tallahassee gathers at homecoming and other events all around town. Its menu varies, incorporating seasonal and holiday flavors, too, such as sweet potato pie and a banana pudding that’s family size. Our favorites are the cupcakes and Bundt cakes with flavors such as Midnight Red Velvet, Lemon Medley, Strawberry Shortcake, and Caramel Biscotti.
2037 W. Pensacola Street, Tallahassee, FL
If you can’t jet off to the islands, at least let chef Sam Burgess give you a taste of them. His Pineapple Bowls are a feast for the eyes as well as the appetite. Each features a halved pineapple, hollowed out and filled with cilantro lime rice, pineapple-mango or corn salsa, and your choice of shrimp, chicken, salmon, steak, lobster tail, or black beans. Pineappétit also offers golden-crusted patties stuffed with beef, jerk chicken, or curry chicken; gourmet wings; plantains; and “Rasta Pasta,” penne tossed with bell peppers, your choice of protein, and Burgess’s signature jerk alfredo sauce.
1600 Miccosukee Road, Tallahassee, FL
A Food Network Chopped champion, Chef Shac presents a “soulful fusion” of Southern cuisine with other cultural flavors, including African, Caribbean, and Italian. She also likes to turn dining at Soulful into a sensory experience featuring a handcrafted multi-course meal, curated wine selection, music, and even live painting performances.
1312 S. Adams Street, Tallahassee, FL
This family-owned BBQ stand promises its food is “fanger lickin’ good.” Big D’s certainly brings big barbecue flavor to Tally with chicken sandwiches featuring white or dark meat, chicken dinners, turkey drumsticks, rib sandwiches, whole slabs of ribs, and chicken and rib combos. The grill is a regular sight at FAMU football, along with its baked beans, seafood rice, potato salad, and mac and cheese.
11. Halisi Africa
625 Railroad Square, Tallahassee, FL
This Afro-Fusion boutique and café celebrates Africa’s culinary traditions and diversity while incorporating locally sourced, fresh ingredients. Choose starters such as Injera & Shiro, a platter of spicy hummus and dried injera chips with Ethiopian-spiced sauteed collard greens. Build your own Mkate, a traditional crepe from Kenya featuring your choice of jackfruit, chicken, salmon, or shrimp; sauce; and a grain such as couscous or Jollof stuffed into flaky chapati bread. Or opt for an Afro-Fusion bowl featuring regional spices and tastes, such as The Swahili, inspired by East Africa with its creamy coconut curry, savory pilau rice, sweet plantains, and mix of mushrooms, jackfruit, beef, chicken, or seafood.
12. PJ Subs
This food truck boasts the “best subs in America,” and it’s hard to disagree—at least around Tally. You’ll find brunch subs such as the Sunny Sunrise featuring bacon or steak in a blanket of egg, topped with cheese and mayo. It also carries burger subs, steak subs, chicken subs, and shrimp subs, such as the Blazin’ Cajun, a combo of grilled shrimp and sausage with grilled peppers and onions, provolone cheese, pickles, lettuce, and mayo.
13. The Chocolate Dandies
1320 S. Adams Street, Tallahassee, FL
Composer and lyricist Noble Sissle is perhaps best known for the hit song “I’m Just Wild About Harry.” He also was the great-grandfather of the founders of this gourmet brownie business, who took the title of the 1920s musical he co-wrote for their company name. The treats here indeed are dandy, with flavors such as red velvet cheesecake swirl, espresso, classic fudge, peanut butter, and fudge, gluten-free, and sugar-free. Each has its own musical-inspired name, too, such as “Star Dust,” “Goodbye Blues,” and “Got Another Sweetie Now.”
14. Right On ‘Que
This barbecue stand and catering company bring the sauce and the flavor to FAMU gatherings and other spots around town, featuring smoked ribs, pulled chicken, beef brisket, turkey legs, and smoked sausage. Its sides include “DD’s Famous” Mac & Cheese, prepared in a creamy sauce with a cheesy crust; Cajun collards; and slow-roasted baked beans flavored with brown sugar and bacon.
15. Milk Me Treats
Believing that desserts should involve enjoying favorite flavors and creating new ones, Milk Me Treats offers a selection of indulgent desserts and a way to build your own cookies, brownies, and muffins from over 20 different toppings, spices, and mix-ins. It also takes special care of breastfeeding moms, offering “tasty lactation treats,” including cookies, bars, and bites.
16. Olean’s Cafe
1605 S. Adams Street, Tallahassee, FL
Olean McCaskill and her husband, Johnny, founded this popular breakfast and brunch spot in the 1990s across from FAMU’s campus, and Mrs. O still proudly cooks up some of the best Tallahassee soul food with the sense of being at Grandma’s house. Check out the fried chicken, baked chicken, smothered pork chops, cheese grits, and collards, or order the full “Obama Breakfast” featuring grits, eggs, bacon, toast, and pancakes.