Published by Christina Riley. Last Updated on August 3, 2023.
North Carolina‘s Bull City is known for Duke University, tech, and medicine among many more things. If you know anything about us, you’ll know we love highlighting Durham‘s awesome food scene. And in this post, we’re focusing on a group of black-owned restaurants in Durham that deserve some special recognition.
We’ve included some of them among our overall favorite places to eat and even international spots, but thought a bit of extra attention was necessary. And while February is Black History Month, full of celebrations for the accomplishments of African-Americans, we will promote this article all year.
These delicious places deserve your business regardless of what day falls on your calendar. Based on the lines forming inside and outside their doors on a nearly daily basis, I don’t think we’re alone.
This post is part of our series on all the awesome places to visit in Central North Carolina.
Black-Owned Restaurants in Durham NC
Note: We recognize that this list may not include all the black-owned restaurants in Durham. However, we are always looking to add more and expand! Let us know (by email) your favorite black-owned business for us to support.
The Chicken Hut
Website | 3019 Fayetteville St
The cafeteria-style and cash-only (at the time of writing) Chicken Hut has been serving up fresh homestyle food to its customers for more than 60 years.
Located near the campus of North Carolina Central University, this restaurant serves up the best fried chicken in all of Durham. Yep, we went there!
Why we love this business: The vibe. It’s unpretentious, open, and inviting. At The Chicken Hut, you will see people lining up out the door for their incredible and affordable food, laughing and talking to each other as they wait.
Menu | 406 Blackwell Street, Suite 100
Unless you can convince me otherwise, Zweli’s is the only Zimbabwean restaurant in the United States. It’s locally-owned in Durham by two incredible individuals.
From juicy and flavorful Piri Piri chicken to vegan and intriguing side dishes, an experience at Zweli’s packs a culinary punch. Located in Brightleaf Square, this is one international restaurant that should be on everyone’s list.
Why we love this business: The love that’s in the air here. When you read Chef Zwe’s story, you’ll find that she is a woman who has triumphed. Not only that but if you ask her husband Leonardo about their love story, you’ll find yourself melting to the floor.
The owners of Zweli bring so much love and compassion to each other and our community. Organizing efforts for Durham’s McDougald Terrace after they were evacuated following some truly tragic events, Zweli’s gathered donations, provided meals, and continued supporting the community.
For that, we believe they deserve all of our support. We also believe their inviting atmosphere makes a Zweli’s visit one of the best things to do with kids in Durham.
Website | 5122 NC 55
Smoke billows from this building of Highway 55 each day as the folks behind Backyard Barbecue get things going. After eating here a few times, we can’t find a reason to not love Backyard Barbecue!
Their parking lot packs from the moment the doors open, and you’ll see why after picking up a plate. Backyard Barbecue serves some of the smokiest, most tender ribs and juicy turkey barbecue.
Why we love this business: The low-key vibe. With graffiti all over the walls and a chalkboard menu, Backyard reminds us that restaurants should be about the food, first and foremost.
With the hustle and bustle and growth in Bull City, sometimes you need to return to your roots, eat some collards, and remind yourself of the real food of North Carolina.
Website | 1004 Morning Glory Ave
If you’re a parent, you get why this is one of our favorite Durham coffee shops! Created by parents, for parents, Nolia is a space where children are not only welcomed but celebrated.
With a play space for children and open-ended imaginative place, Nolia is the perfect spot for families to gather. Add in health-conscious menu items and high-quality coffee, and you have yourself the ideal family environment.
Why we love this business: Justin. Owner Justin Minott oozes with enthusiasm, passion, and a love for what he’s doing. Take one look at his blog, book, or podcast, and you know that Justin is a guy who is here to uplift his community and change our world for the better.
Ask him why he loves what he’s doing while he’s making your pour-over and we guarantee you’ll leave inspired to live your best life.
Dame’s Chicken and Waffles
Website | 530 Foster St (additional locations in Cary and Greensboro)
Chicken, waffles, drizzles, and a shmear? YES PLEASE.
Whether you credit Harlem or the South, the debate over Dame’s Chicken and Waffles should revolve around whether or not theirs is the best.
And girl is it good! The chicken and waffles at Dame’s isn’t the only creative thing in this building on Foster St. This restaurant’s decor perfectly complements the menu items with color and creativity.
Why we love this business: Their old-school dining vibe. You can’t make reservations at Dames, which some people don’t like. However, we believe this makes your meal that much worth it, especially if there’s a wait.
It’s not uncommon to see people hanging out on the corner of Foster St waiting for their tables, chatting and reconnecting. And ultimately, isn’t that what food is all about? Reconnecting with the people we shmear with?
Saltbox Seafood Joint
Website | 608 N Mangum St & 2637 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd
You’ll find lines constantly out the door of both Saltbox locations, with people flocking for fresh-caught North Carolina seafood. And the food is just one reason to support this most delicious of black-owned Durham restaurant.
And yes, we must celebrate Chef Ricky Moore bringing seafood to a Central North Carolina city and elevating his ultra-fresh catches. Coming from a fine-dining background, Moore makes this supposedly simple food shine.
Why we love this business: The freshness, duh! The chalkboard menu changes daily based on what is being caught right here on our shores. Nothing is ever frozen and while prepared simply, each menu item is treated with care.
Facebook | 5410 Highway 55 Suite AJ AK
Cooking from his soul is exactly what True Flavors Chef Sidney Coves does. The Fayetteville native started out in Durham catering before opening up his iconic brunch spot off of Highway 55.
With incredible combinations and a comforting menu, True Flavors is one of our favorite black-owned Durham businesses to support!
Why we love this business: Them biscuits. LAWRD. We can’t get over these delicious fluffy biscuits. We’re willing to bet your last dollar that nobody you know, including your grandma, can make biscuits better than Chef Sidney.
Whether you’re getting one on the side at brunch or sandwiched between exotic meat at Debbie Lou’s, his biscuits are hands down the best in North Carolina.
And we will fight anyone that disagrees.
Website | 910 West Main St
Chances are, you’ve probably not had a dining experience like the one you’ll have at Goorsha. Goorsha, in Ethiopian, is an act of feeding each other through love, friendship, and culture. Feeding one another through is a sign of acceptance and mutual understanding.
Why we love this business: The food culture. While you aren’t expected to feed your dining partner at Goorsha, you will find delicious and nurturing dishes. Choose a communal plate (it’s more Instagramable- duh!) and dig in with your hands and a grabbing of injera! In our opinion, the vegan sides are absolutely incredible and the Kitfo Goorsha a must-eat appetizer!
Website | 341 West Main St
Whether it’s the coffee bar, the catering, the restaurant, or coffee roaster, this downtown Durham restaurant is always bumping! Owner Dorian Bolden founded Beyu (pronounced “Be You”) so everyone from all walks of life could come together and enjoy good food and great vibes.
Bolden says that by having this space, we can see that we all have more in common than differences, which is something that’s absolutely worth celebrating!
Why we love this business: Their food is great (especially the Shrimp and Grits), but this place keeps making amazing coffee! Starting with a blend named Heart & Soul, Beyu Caffe opened in 2009 and quickly gained notoriety for their food and vibe, too. Now, they blend premium coffee both downtown and also on Duke University’s campus at Beyu Blue.
Pro-tip: Order a Carver’s Peanut Butter and thank us later.
That delicious brew is why Beyu Caffe is also included in our guide to coffee shops in Durham.
Website | 406 Blackwell St #150
From their food truck and pop-up beginnings, Boricua Soul has mixed traditional African and Caribbean ingredients with Southern staples like collards and mac and cheese to form uniquely delicious concoctions.
The menu includes Chicharonnes, Pernil (Puerto Rican roasted pork shoulder), and Tostones. Both owners Toriano and Serena have Puerto Rican heritage and the Southern influence comes from Toriano’s grandparents.
That’s why their food goes beyond Puerto Rico to mix in things familiar to folks from the South.
Why we love this business: It’s truly unique. Toriano and Serena have worked hard together to build this business. And as foodies who have followed them from their food truck days, it’s inspiring for us to see their restaurant packed and their truck schedule bumping.
Let’s Eat Soul Food
Facebook | 2514 Fayetteville Street
Your tummy will rumble with delight at Let’s Eat Soul Food! Located near NCCU, this family-run restaurant has finger-licking wings and homemade daily specials. Whether you’re coming in for their fried chicken or swinging by for Caribbean Sunday, you won’t find any better soul food in Durham than here.
Which of these Black Restaurants in Durham is Your First Pick?
While the owners of these black-owned restaurants in Durham come from different backgrounds, they all have a similar mix of heart and tenacity that have made them successful. If you don’t already know about any of them, please consider supporting them so they can continue to grow and inspire.
Do you know of any additional black-owned restaurants in Durham that we should include? We are always on the lookout for more people to celebrate.
Let us know (by email) and we’ll be happy to take a look. Until then, happy eating at these awesome establishments!