Black-owned restaurants on Long Island
Long Island is rife with minority-owned businesses, especially in the restaurant category. During Black History Month and beyond, we celebrate the many Black-owned restaurants across the Island, a mere first step toward leveling the entrepreneurial playing field.
Four years ago, Colleen Vincent and Clay Williams launched Black Food Folks, an important resource amplifying the messages of Black culinary creators, locally and across the nation. “Black food has often been translated as soul food or Caribbean food,” Williams explained, “but because of the way that conversations around representation have started to happen, we’re now able to have a more nuanced discussion about what Black cuisine is.”
To use a comparison to Italian food — these days, we know the difference between Sicilian food and Roman food, northern Italian and southern Italian styles. “Similarly, people want to share those same kinds of distinctions around Black food. It’s not a monolith and people are not doing one sort of thing,” he said.
Like the chefs behind the many Black-owned spots below, they express themselves in different ways: from casual to formal, to those deeply rooted in history versus those offering modern, playful interpretations of classic dishes. Some restaurants cater to specific cuisines, like Jamaican or Haitian, and while some excel at breakfast, still others turn into nightclubs after dark.
It’s impossible to highlight all of the Island’s Black-owned restaurants, cuisines, and food sources in one list, so here’s both a start and a sampling of some of our favorites.
The Pie Hole
850 Main St., Farmingdale
Long Island's most well-known Black chef, Marc Bynum, recently opened an artisan pizza shop in Farmingdale, where he takes the pies well beyond basic marinara. There’s the Caribbean Queen with jerk chicken, grilled pineapple, plantain and hibiscus BBQ sauce; the Anthony Hamilton with braised short rib and collard greens; the Earth, Wind and Fire with charred roots vegetables and Brussels sprouts; or the Cardi with piri-piri shrimp, cilantro and onions. More info: 516-586-8395
Black Momma Tea & Cafe
16 Colonial Springs Rd., Wyandanch
Vanessa Braxton has birthed over 400 items under her Black Momma brand, from loose leaf teas to hemp oil to gourmet dog treats and vodka. Her Wheatley Heights brick-and-mortar shop features grab-and-go drinks and a curated range of products produced by other female, minority, veteran and/or local entrepreneurs. More info: 631-443-2202, blackmommateacafe.com
64 Rockaway Ave., Valley Stream
This all-day cafe, opened in 2020 by Shanelle County and Darlene Gomez, is a destination for coffee and espresso drinks paired with avocado toasts, soups and panini. Weekend brunch offers Caribbean-inspired breakfast skillets and a spicy Benedict, plus carafes of Paloma and Ting or sorrel sangria. Later, the space segues into a wine bar. More info: 516-596-2000, standardpourli.com
39 Atlantic Ave., Lynbrook
Bryant Postell and his partners opened this intimate restaurant-meets-lounge, where diners can partake in steaks and seafood through the dinner hours before the space evolves into a nightclub vibe with a midnight happy hour. Sundays offers prix-fixe menus starting at brunch, while a nightly dinner menu includes dishes ranging from lollipop lamb chops to sweet potato deviled eggs and lobster mac-and-cheese. More info: 516-837-3939, prime39.com
Lola’s Southern Cuisine
2717a Route 112, Medford
High school sweethearts Tiffany and Darrell Darwood cook fried chicken, pulled pork, mac-and-cheese and other Southern-style dishes at their Medford restaurant, a savory counterpart to the bakery the couple own in Brooklyn, Doc’s Cake Shop. More info: 631-730-8526. lolasscuisine.com
NuVo Kitchen, East Meadow
2367 Hempstead Tpke., East Meadow
The handsome, chill exterior of Marc Celestin’s fusion charmer calls to mind a nightclub with a serious rope line, although inside you’ll find a menu and hardworking staff that find ways to please almost everyone, especially during busy weekend brunches where standouts include jerk chicken and waffles, meaty lobster mac-and-cheese, and Dominican mangư — mashed plantains — with eggs and choice of proteins. More info: 516-493-4717, nkrestaurant.com
Uncle Don's Kitchen
1B W. Village Green, Hicksville
Patrick Walters first dreamed of having his own place as a 19-year-old kid in Kingston, Jamaica. His Hicksville takeout cafe is a family affair, with his three children working alongside him to keep up with demand for his stupendous jerk chicken — fresh from the pit, fragrant of smoke and allspice — along with oxtails long-braised in great caldrons until the meat goes soft and broth becomes gravy becomes elixir. More info: 516-226-3808, uncledonskitchen.com
393 Bayview Ave., Amityville
By day, the cozy 48-seat dining room of chefs Antoine Reid and Asim Henry is cheerfully flooded with sunlight. Nighttime brings a party atmosphere, where Rastaritas (cranberry-flavored margaritas, a house specialty) flow. Touting breakfast all day, classics like waffles and grits are served with a variety of toppings from shrimp to salmon to whiting. Omelets, pancakes, wraps and sandwiches round out the menu. More info: 631-608-4785, bayviewkitchenli.com
617 Montauk Hwy., Center Moriches
Yakeev Chance and his brothers Yannick and Lester Ellis are the proprietors of this jerk powerhouse, where exceptionally tender, flavorful meats typically spend a day or two sitting in jerk marinade. But it’s the period spent smoking in the wood chip-fed barrel grill — roughly three hours — that will make a believer of you. More info: 631-909-3720, goodbicklerestaurant.com
Pretty Toni’s Cafe
759 W Merrick Rd., Valley Stream
Chef-owner Toni Clifton serves a healthier version of soul food with no pork products and limits on fat and sugar. That said, there's plenty of comfort to be had from specialties such as fried whole whiting served with eggs, grits and home fries; a French toast croissant topped with whipped cream and berries; and sides of turkey bacon and sausage. Saturday is waffle day, with choices such as blueberry, chocolate chip and banana, and the Soul Brunch (named for the recorded soul, jazz and R&B piped into the comfortable dining room during the meal) is served Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. More info: 516-285-8664