29 Mar 10 New Black-Owned Restaurants in Houston to Try in 2022
By Jada F. Smith
Despite what the name suggests, Black Restaurant Week is more than just a 7-day affair. We keep our ear to these Black culinary streets 365 days a year, as chefs and entrepreneurs from across the Diaspora continue to open new restaurants, explore new concepts, and forge new community connections through food. That’s why our theme for 2022 is “More Than Just a Week.” Houston in particular deserves year-round attention. The influence of the city’s Black creators, movers, shakers, and policy makers continue to make Screwston relevant in everything from music and politics, to conversations around climate justice, gentrification, technology, and, of course, food.
Chris Williams’s star continues to rise, for example, as the executive chef of Lucille’s and the founder of Lucille’s Hospitality Group was recently nominated for the prestigious James Beard Award in the Outstanding Restaurateur category – the only nominee from Houston in that bracket. Olympian-turned-chef Dawn Burrell has been coaching contenders on the current season of Top Chef, which was filmed here in Houston. And the Breakfast Klub, a local fave, made Yelp’s national list of Black-owned businesses to watch in 2022.
But that only scratches the surface of what’s been cooking in Houston’s Black culinary community. Throughout the city, Black-owned restaurants are making the transition from food trucks to brick-and-mortars; existing storefronts are expanding to new locations; and noteworthy chefs are making bold forays into experimental new dining concepts. As the kids would say, when it comes to new Black-owned restaurants in Houston, it’s pressure.
Check out our list below of some of the newest Black-owned restaurants in Houston, as well as a few highly anticipated spots that are slated to open soon. Whether you’re from the H or just visiting, here’s where you can find some of the most exciting new restaurants in Houston in 2022 and beyond.
ChòpnBlọk sits at the crossroads of various Diasporan culinary cultures, pulling influences from West African flavor profiles, East African-style dishes, and the culinary traditions of the Black American South. Each dish is rooted in African culture and reimagined by their team of creatives to suit Houston’s globalized palette.
The result is a clean menu that feels both familiar and unique. That includes dishes like Jollof Jambalaya, which combines chicken, yaji (suya) vegetables, and stewed plantains; the Liberian style collard greens and kale; and the Motherland Curry, which is plated with Nigerian honey beans and bell peppers in a savory yellow coconut curry sauce.
Opened November 2021 in POST HTX at 401 Franklin Street.
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Legacy means a lot to the team behind Esther’s Cajun Café. “Queen” Esther opened her first location in 2008 in Independence Heights – known as the first Black city in Texas – with soulful recipes passed down by her mother, grandmother, and even great-grandmother. Eventually, Esther’s became known throughout Houston for having some of the most authentic Louisiana-style gumbo, seafood étouffée, and their renowned Cajun fried chicken.
The legacy continues with Esther’s expansion from its Independence Heights location to another brick-and-mortar a mile away on Shepherd. It features the same blend of Cajun cuisine and Soul Food, but they’re picking up a ton more space, a full-service bar, longer hours, and a walk-up service window. And speaking of legacy, get this: Esther’s eldest daughter, Glashanda Lewis-Bernard, serves as the brand’s business manager, while her son, Lonnie Dow IV, is co-owner.
Opened February 2022 at 5007 North Shepherd.
The husband-and-wife team behind The Foodie Barr are former classroom educators who claim to also be Ph.Ds. in Cajun brunchology. You could say that Charles and Silver Barr got their “degree” from watching their mothers and grandmothers in Bunkie, La. cook Southern classics like oxtails and grits, red beans and rice, peach clobbers, and thick and flavorful roux’s.
They combined that generational knowledge with the culinary sensibilities of a millennial (we started brunch culture as it exists today, no debate), creating a Cajun-style brunch out of a truck that attracted foodies from around the world. Check out their newly-established brick-and-mortar but be warned: If you’re going on a Sunday, be sure to get there early, as they’ve sold out of their “Sunday Best” oxtail dinner every weekend since they opened. Some of their other most vaunted creations are the beignet-style Monte Cristo sandwiches. The steak and lobster beignet comes with Cajun-style sautéed shrimp and lobster, along with melted aged white cheddar, all fried in beignet batter.
Oh, and teachers get free spinach dip from 3 p.m. to close every Wednesday through Friday.
Opened January 2022 at 2155 Durham Drive, Suite 105.
Don’t let the name fool you. The Greasy Spoon is not some makeshift eatery dishing out deep-fried whatever. No. The Greasy Spoon aims to serve its patrons a five-star Soul Food and Southern dining experience. We’re talking blackened catfish Opelousas, smothered chop steaks, and slow cooked turkey legs stuffed with collard greens, dirty rice, mac n’ cheese, and their signature Cajun sauce. If it’s greasy, it’s the good kind of grease.
With a food truck and a flagship brick-and-mortar on the Northside, owner Max Bozeman II opened a new location in Pearland this past January, adding to the hefty entrepreneurial portfolio that he’s been building since he was a teenager. When he was 19 years old, Bozeman bought a convenience store before becoming the youngest gas station owner in Texas just one year later. After that, he went on to help build some of Houston’s most notable restaurant and bar brands, then began tweaking some of his family’s beloved recipes to serve as the foundation for The Greasy Spoon. It has since become a favorite among local foodies and was featured on Food Network’s Food Paradise.
Opened January 2022 at 10009 Broadway Street.
Juliet Restaurant | 5857 Westheimer Road, Suite P
The first thing you should know about Juliet Restaurant is that you’re not supposed to know anything about it. Unless you’re in the know, of course. To passersby, it’s a slightly peculiar but otherwise normal looking cinema. To the in-crowd, it’s a swanky, hidden restaurant inspired by vintage Hollywood glamour.
Juliet is owned by Candy Shack owner James McGhee, who is using this project as his first foray into “vibe dining.” Similar to vibe dining venues like The James Room in Atlanta, Juliet aims for seamless transitions from daytime to dining, nightlife, and events.
Alongside the faux movie theater entrance, the theme is completed by a box office, “shop girls” selling popcorn and candy at a concession stand, and a heavy curtain that separates the movie theater façade from the speakeasy that’s tucked away in back. It also has ornate gold fixtures that complement its signature 24-karat gold tomahawk ribeye, which can be topped with truffle butter, sautéed shrimp, blue cheese, black truffled lobster, and black truffle red wine sauce. As you can probably guess by now, there’s a strict dress code of upscale attire, and tables are reservations only.
Opened February 2022 at 5857 Westheimer Road, Suite P.
Lucy Pearl's | 401 Franklin Street (POST HTX)
Before we even say anything about the taste of Lucy Pearl’s cakes, feast your eyes on the presentation. Their signature and most requested confection is the Atomic Cake, which features pastel colored layers of cakes, fruit fillings, and custards, with velvety fudge layered on top. But not only are the desserts beautiful, owners Nicole and Ron Morris say they’re some of “the most amazingly moist cakes known to man.”
They also landed a spot in POST HTX after building their name – and a following – at farmer’s markets across the city, using recipes Nicole got from her mother, who spent her life collecting 5 generations worth of dessert dessert recipes, including their signature Banana Pudding Cake. But hey, if you still need a co-sign, we hear Slim Thug likes the red velvet.
Opened November 2021 in POST HTX at 401 Franklin Street.
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Rare | 4105 Washington Avenue
Instagram | 713-684-7129
People were excited for the food at Rare before it even opened. At one point, there were less than 10 posts on their Instagram page – almost none of them showcasing the food – but there were more than 100 fire emojis in the comments. Yes, we counted.
That’s because “Big” Chef Bowie is known for bringing the heat and making food that’s worth the wait. Literally. His work at Houston’s brunch behemoth, Taste Bar + Kitchen, which often draws lines that extend down the street.
This next culinary project, Rare, promises to deliver on that reputation while taking it to new heights, as his team plans to deliver a “world class culinary experience” with great views, inspiring architecture, and interesting artwork for diners to feast on as they…feast. And he’s got big backing, too. Some of the partners include Akon and Andre Johnson, a former wide receiver for the Texans.
Opened March 2022 at 4105 Washington Avenue.
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It’s tempting to see the rise of Stuff’d Wings as a rags-to-riches story. After all, they went from slinging stuffed chicken wings in the parking lot of an O’Reilly Auto Parts, to being invited to occupy prime real estate near the Ion, Houston’s newest hub for entrepreneurial, academic, and technological innovation. But really, it’s more of a love story.
The idea behind their popular stuffed chicken wings came from owner Jarrod Rector wanting to create something special for his wife, Prisoria. “I knew you were at home taking [care of] the babies, so I was like, ‘I wonder can I put dirty rice inside of a chicken wing, because Lord knows you love some fried chicken,” he wrote in a tribute post on IG, recalling the moment inspiration struck. “Well we all know the rest is history.” Awww.
In addition to dirty rice, you can also have your wings stuffed with seafood boudin, chicken boudin, or mac n’ cheese (on the weekends), topped with their signature spicy-sweet sauce.
Opening Spring 2022 at 401 Richmond Avenue.
Instagram | 713-485-6007
Chelsea Geegan is serving up more than just good Creole cuisine at her food truck turned brick-and-mortar. She’s serving up Creole love. Love for the culture. Love for the food. Love for the community.
Geegan built a following by bringing savory dishes like crawfish étouffée, Southern-style red beans and rice, Creole pasta, and more straight to the community, posting up at beloved local landmarks like Project Row Houses.
So it was only fitting that she celebrated the grand opening of the space with a community block party and her “Cool Cup Juice,” reminiscent of long summer days playing with the kids in the neighborhood. The menu at the new shop features crispy fried fish, fried shrimp, chicken wings, homemade butter buffalo wings, and more.
Opened January 2022 at 3250 Old Spanish Trail, Suite A.
The Warwick | 5888 Westheimer Road
The operational team behind The Warwick is nothing if not ambitious. Not only did they name it after one of the city’s first luxury hotels (now Hotel Zaza), they’re filling the vacancy left by the abrupt closure of the beloved restaurant, Houston’s; presenting diners with a “globally influenced” menu; and doing it all against an opulent background that was curated by renowned designer Nicki Dooms. Think marble flooring, butter-poached lobster tails, and opulent views of the city. In short, they’re coming for the crown.
But given the team behind the soon-to-open upscale eatery, which includes Steven Rogers (Bar 5015), Rob Wright (Prospect Park), Mazen Baltagi (Slowpokes), and local lawyer Kurt Agomuo, they seem primed to pull it off.
Coming Spring 2022 to 5888 Westheimer Rd.