11 Nov 5 of the Best Black-Owned Seafood Restaurants in the U.S.
By Natelegé Whaley
Florida’s cooking styles have a spectrum of influences — from the Caribbean to the American South — but at the center is usually fresh seafood sourced from local markets. The Sunshine State is one of the top producers of fresh seafood in America, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, with many diverse varieties of marine life, such as stone crab, Spanish mackerel, and pink shrimp swimming in the region. Throughout Florida, Black restaurateurs get creative and add their unique twist to seafood specialties, whether fried, boiled, or cured.
For instance, LaRondra Graham created The Conch Queen, a food truck that serves Miami-inspired conch dishes, in Paradise Heights, FL, a suburb in greater Orlando.
“Miami, specifically, has its own cuisine identity, thanks to the combination of the Caribbean and Hispanic influences,” Graham explains. “Our menu, which includes conch fritters that are flat rather than round, is unique because of the Miami inspirations,” she added.
Here is a spotlight on Black-owned food businesses serving dishes bursting with a medley of flavors that feature seafood as the main ingredient.
The Conch Queen food truck reimagines various ways to indulge in conch, the marine mollusk popular in the Bahamas that has evolved into a Miami staple. The Conch Queen’s signature dish is a basket seafood combo meal featuring cracked conch, jumbo shrimp and lump crabmeat on top of seasoned fries and dessert. For those with a sweet tooth, the mango cobbler with a “crusty, buttery top and bottom” is their dessert staple.
Pensacola native Lenell Watson launched Crab Boss as a home-based food business serving Florida-style cajun-inspired street food in Maryland in 2015. As demand grew, by 2016, Watson and his wife Ashleigh Watson upgraded to a restaurant in Brandywine, MD. Their signature “Boss Fries,” which places Maryland blue crab meat over fries and is drizzled with their house-made Alfredo sauce and Crab Boss sauce, is a known hit. In summer 2020, Crab Boss expanded to a thriving location at D.C.’s bustling H Street Corridor, where you can enjoy seafood platters and specialty drinks.
Chef Oya’s The Trap – Indianapolis, IN
The idea for Chef Oya’s The Trap was birthed when her friend, who is from Florida, posted a photo of Florida-style seafood on Instagram. Oya was curious about recreating the platter, not having this style of food available in Indianapolis. Oya’s experience in food service gave her insight to create a food delivery service called the TRAP, which is an acronym for Toward Restoring Food Access to the People. The Trap is now a storefront, where you can order seafood platters of crab legs and shrimp, with your sauce of choice, such as the OG Garlic Herb, the Yaad Jerk, Sweet Thai Chili and more.
Team Love Seafood is a small family owned restaurant and food truck in Jacksonville, Fl, specializing in unique cheesy seafood combinations. The menu boasts items such as seafood egg rolls made of crawfish, crabmeat, shrimp, cheeses and spices, and the Sea and Soul Food spaghetti, featuring crawfish, shrimp and crabmeat, topped with parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Team Love Seafood also offers kid-friendly meals such as fried shrimp and french fries.
Plates on Deck is a catering, meal prep, and family meal delivery service based in Orlando and New York. They specialize in customized seafood boils, giving you a choice of an assortment of shrimp, salmon crab legs and lobster, served with corn, red potatoes and sausage. Plates on Deck has a variety of family meals that include four course brunch and three course chicken meals to name a few. For those who like to stock their fridges for several days in advance, Plates on Deck also has gluten-free, plant-based and pescatarian options via its meal prep service.