Enjoy delicious fare from these 13 Black-owned food businesses
Seek out Black-owned food purveyors to support this dining scene sector.
Tensions across the country have increased over the past few months after the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Rayshard Brooks. Racial issues continue to plague the nation, and many are asking what they can do to lift up the Black community. One of the many ways to help is to support Black-owned businesses. The Madison area is home to a plethora of Black-owned food businesses. And what better way to stand with the community than by enjoying food that is so good it touches the soul? If you needed another excuse to enjoy these spots, Black Restaurant Week is Aug. 16-23.
“Buraka” means joy and contentment in Oromo, a language widely spoken in Ethiopia and throughout the Horn of Africa. And enjoyment is exactly what you’ll find when you eat at this Madison restaurant. Coconut curry chicken, vegetarian peanut stew and customer favorite Dorowot, (chicken, carrots and spices in red sauce) are just a few of the East African and Ethiopian dishes served at Buraka. The food — often spiced with cumin, curry powder and garlic — is rich and full of flavor. You can have your meal served over rice or injera, an Ethiopian flatbread. Buraka isn’t famous only for its food — the restaurant offers a variety of Ethiopian coffees, too. 1210 Williamson St., 286-1448
Give your taste buds a gift with chocolate from CocoVaa. CocoVaa offers a wide selection of infused bars, desserts and a variety of bonbon flavors like morello cherry caramel, matcha green tea and passion fruit mango caramel. CocoVaa’s chocolates have won 29 awards at the Academy of Chocolate Awards in London — one of the most prestigious fine chocolate competitions — since 2018. Syovata Edari started the business in 2016, all while running a law practice. The brand CocoVaa has personal meaning to Edari and reflects her heritage and history. She says everything in the shop is carefully created and curated with the deepest intention. “We tell stories through our creations and what we provide,” Edari says. “There is a fascinating back story to everything at CocoVaa.” 1815 E. Washington Ave., 888-803-6122
David’s Jamaican Cuisine
Originally from Jamaica, David Blake moved to Florida and then to Madison in 1996. He and his wife, Pauline, opened David’s Jamaican Cuisine in July 2002. David’s jerk chicken, jerk pork and famous oxtails have kept customers coming back for years. They also serve catfish, salmon and vegetarian dishes like mango or pineapple tofu. David’s touts itself as a “friendly place,” and the big portions will leave you with plenty of leftovers to enjoy. Blake says the eatery offers nothing but the most authentic, fresh and delicious Jamaican food. “It’s always the best Jamaican food you can find in town — in all of Wisconsin,” he says. 5696 Monona Drive, 222-8109
Falbo Bros Pizzeria
Falbo Bros’ made-from-scratch dough and marinara sauce will have you running, not walking, to this local pizzeria. The spot is known for tasty pies that include choice of toppings as well as specialty pizzas like the Buffalo chicken (for some extra heat) or the Arizona Ranch, which replaces marinara sauce with a combination of ranch dressing and Frank’s RedHot Buffalo Sauce. The wings and salad add another dynamic to the meal. If you’re not in the mood for pizza, the hot and cold subs are a good choice. Most of the ingredients Falbo Bros uses are locally and regionally sourced so you know exactly where your food is from. Owner Keith Maggit also runs the north side Falbo Bros location. 406 S. Park St., 255-9090; 1207 N. Sherman Ave., 204-2723
According to treehugger.com, Madison is the 14th best city in the country for plant-based eating. So it’s no wonder JustVeggiez is popular with vegetarians and vegans in Madison. JustVeggiez is a vegan catering and vendor service that provides healthier versions of your favorite foods, says owner James Bloodsaw. Bloodsaw opened the business in 2018 after more than 30 years of experience in the food industry. JustVeggiez doesn’t have a physical location yet, but you may see the company at events around town serving up its popular vegan Buffalo chicken sandwich. Eggplant Parmesan with noodles, stuffed peppers with sauce and plant-based vegan corned beef are just some of the items on the menu, along with several gluten free dishes. You can order pickup or delivery. facebook.com/justveggiez, 209-5070
Mo’ Betta Butter Cookies
If you’re looking for cookies that melt in your mouth, you’ll find them at Mo’ Betta Butter Cookies. Latisha McDuffy started baking in 2008 to provide an activity for children at her home day care and as holiday gifts for friends. The butter cookies McDuffy makes are reminiscent of the butter cookies she ate in Chicago public schools’ cafeterias. McDuffy ended up selling out of the cookies at the Black Women’s Business Expo, helping her decide to keep pursuing her business. And when she had to close her home day care due to her health, she decided to take the leap. McDuffy’s cookies burst with buttery goodness. If butter cookies aren’t for you, you can order Ruby Raisin (oatmeal with raisins and Craisins) or peanut butter cookies. 5662 King James Way, 209-2956
Savi Cafe & Catering
“We create homestyle dishes with fine-dining quality for a wide variety of tastes,” says Norman Davis and Eric Gavins, owners of Savi Cafe, located inside the Dane County Courthouse. Davis and Gavins are proud of their Taste of Madison award-winning baked mac and cheese and pulled pork sandwich. It’s no surprise the baked mac and cheese is a customer favorite. The dish is ooey-gooey cheesy goodness. Pick up Savi’s tacos on Tuesdays and Fridays, and after a long week, catch one of the seafood specials. Choose from Cajun-rubbed salmon, fried catfish nuggets or cod, baked or fried. While there is typically dine-in seating, due to COVID-19 they currently only offer takeout, delivery or catering. 215 S. Hamilton St, savicafecatering.com, 283-4903
Additional Black-Owned Businesses
Café Costa Rica Food Cart
Satisfy your appetite with “Latin soul food” from Café Costa Rica. Thony Clarke, also known as Mango Man, has been serving up rich and flavorful dishes in Madison since 2003. Enjoy a plate of the day with rice and beans, salad, yellow plantains and your choice of protein or vegetables. Find Café Costa Rica on Library Mall for lunch. mangomancooks.com, 352-8466
From fried chicken and yassa to a variety of hearty breakfasts and burgers, you can find it all at Kingdom Restaurant. Yassa is an African dish with chicken, vegetables and pepper sauce served with rice or couscous. The north side spot also offers fish, sandwiches and salad. Don’t forget to grab some ice cream for dessert. 1865 Northport Drive, 286-1238
Marie’s Soul Food
The baked mac and cheese at Marie’s Soul Food is so smooth and creamy, you’ll want seconds. The yams have just the right amount of sweetness. And the ribs are so tender, the meat practically falls off the bone. Marissa Holmes says she takes great pride in cooking her food. 1637 Monroe St., 405-5729
McGee’s Chicken offers comfort food in the best way possible. Start your meal with hot wings, pizza puffs or steak fries with cheese. Be sure to leave plenty of room for the main course, which could be a gyro, saucy barbecue rib tips or any one of a variety of sandwiches. And just maybe you can squeeze in the sweet and juicy peach cobbler or creamy banana pudding. 950 W. Main St., Sun Prairie, 318-2888
Melly Mells Catering
If you’re craving soul food like Grandma makes, check out Melly Mells. The barbecue chicken pairs well with Melly Mells famous mac and cheese, green beans with potatoes and a succulent corn muffin. In addition to running her business, Carmella Jackson spent the past few months making meals for low-income families. FEED Kitchens: 1219 N. Sherman Ave., 213-3020
While RibMasters is known for its juicy, mouthwatering ribs, the food truck offers other popular items, too. Feast on turkey tips, grilled chicken, tender pulled pork nachos and more. Many items come with french fries and bread for a complete meal. Check RibMasters’ Facebook page for times and locations. facebook.com/RibMastersWI/, 669-0955
Find even more places here.
Hywania Thompson is a Madison-based freelance writer.