10 Black-Owned Restaurants to Try in Raleigh and the Research Triangle

Graphic by Francesca Daly for Cardinal & Pine

By Leah Sherrell

February 21, 2023

To honor Black History Month, we’re continuing to highlight Black-owned businesses across North Carolina, with a deep dive into the food scene in the state’s fastest-growing metro region.

Raleigh is the second largest city in North Carolina and the Research Triangle is the second-fastest growing metro area in the country. It has a diverse population, a rich culture, and all the food you can dream of. 

Here’s our list of must-try Black-owned restaurants and drink stops to keep in mind for your next visit or when you need to answer “what should I get to eat?”.

ORO Restaurant & Lounge 

Dish from ORO Restaurant & Lounge

If you’re looking for a nice place to take your parents, partner, or business colleagues, don’t leave ORO off your list. Originally from Kingston, Jamaica, Raleigh resident and Chef Chris Hylton opened his restaurant in 2012. He’s since earned a reputation for combining international flavors (i.e. the Jerk Pork Tomahawk and Braised Oxtail) into unique but recognizable dishes. 

Crema Cafe 

Crema Cold Brew

Maybe you’re more in the mood for a laid back coffee and brunch spot. In that case, head over to Crema Cafe! It’s a downtown Raleigh favorite, serves all day breakfast, fresh salads, cold brew, americanos and more. 

Jack’s Seafood & Soul Food

They describe themselves as an “unfussy place specializing in Southern-style BBQ & fried chicken plus oysters & fish plates,” which sounds exactly like the type of place that we want to get our seafood and BBQ from. On the menu you can find catfish plates, beef ribs, and even family-style meals with chicken or trout. 

Boricua Soul 

Boricua Soul Bowl via Onna Jordan

With a permanent location on the American Tobacco Campus as well as a food truck, Boricua Soul is the definition of fusion food. Married couple Serena and Toriano Fredericks blend the staple dishes and flavors of Puerto Rico and the South to create brand new dishes.  For example, the Boricua Soul Bowl (Puerto Rican slow roasted pork, with rice, collard greens, mac & cheese, and tostones) is something we’re dying to try. 

The Shrimp Truck 

Shrimp Basket from The Shrimp Truck

Lemon butter shrimp, hot and spicy shrimp, shrimp tacos, shrimp baskets, the list goes on and on. If there’s one thing retired Air Force veteran Kenny Wade knows how to do, it’s cooking shrimp—whether fried, grilled, or cajun boiled. He takes The Shrimp Truck all over the Wake County area, so check out sites like street food finder to see where he’s at for the day!

Nafkot Ethiopian Food 

Nafkot Ethiopian Food has something for everyone. The atmosphere is suitable for a couple’s night out, a family meal, or a single diner looking for conversation at the bar. Their menu includes meat, vegetarian, and vegan options, all based on seasonal ingredients and Ethiopian specialties.

The Naked Empanada 

Empanada, Chips, and Sauce via The Naked Empanada

We hope you like food trucks as much as we do, because we can’t help ourselves from finding them. The Naked Empanada is the culmination of Roy Thombs’ lifelong culinary journey. In 2015, he brought his idea into the world and now serves empanadas like the Triple P (provolone, pork, and peppers), the Tequila Lime Chicken, and the ‘Shroom (mushrooms, peppers, garlic, cheese), throughout Wake County and beyond

Corner Boys BBQ 

Corner Boys BBQ

Founded by self-taught chef James D. Sampson, the Corner Boys BBQ started as a fruit stand and now serves some of the juiciest barbeque on the market. They serve brisket, pulled pork, chicken wings, and sides like fries, slaw, and potato salad. You can order catering for large groups or keep up with their Facebook page to see where their truck is at for the day!  

Juiced! Juice Bar

Juiced! is all about providing healthy lifestyle options. They’re known for their great smoothies, juices, baked goods, and they even have local art on site. 

Flavors Ice Cream 

Flavors Ice Cream Monster Shake

Annnnd we’ve made it all the way to dessert. Flavors Ice Cream serves uber rich, creamy, and smooth ice cream that comes all the way from Wisconsin. They have 24 flavors at any given time, monthly Monster Shakes, and even homemade cakes! 


  • Leah Sherrell

    Leah Sherrell is a multimedia reporter for Cardinal & Pine. A graduate of UNC-Wilmington, she's a resident of Kernersville with a background in video production and communication. Leah uses many forms of media to explore the multifaceted lifestyles and cultures present in North Carolina.

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