There’s no doubt that Detroit has gone through a lot. It was once considered one of the wealthiest cities in the world thanks to its booming industrial and automotive industries. Detroit also solidified its reputation as one of the best music cities in the world thanks to Motown Records — one of the most successful soul music labels in history. Unfortunately, as companies restructured, jobs moved overseas, production declined, and so did the jobs of what was once a path to success for Middle-Class families. 

At its peak, Detroit had more than 1.8 million residents, but with no jobs, a reported 1 million people left to seek better opportunities, leaving behind empty homes and structures. The once-rich and lively city became one of the poorest cities in the United States, often synonymous with despair. 

However, there’s a renaissance happening before our eyes as the world witnesses an incredible comeback. Residents and businesses are resilient and working to transform Motor City into a vibrant city with a booming downtown and one of the best culinary scenes in the Midwest.

While its Midwestern counterpart, Chicago, often overlooks it, Detroit is proving that it is a force to be reckoned with thanks to new and emerging restaurants. Black restaurant owners are helping to spearhead the change. Detroit is one of few places in the country where Black restaurant owners offer unique finds such as Burundi cuisine, Northern comfort soul food, and Detroit-style pizza.

A weekend is not enough to experience its culinary greatness. Here are the 10 Black-owned restaurants to include on your itinerary when visiting.

Baobab Fare

Here at Baobab Fare, people will get to taste a rare find: cuisine from the East African country Burundi.

Named after the Tree of Life, Baobab Fare is serving a taste of East Africa to the Motor City. The Nijimberes were originally welcomed to Detroit as refugees with open arms, and now the husband-and-wife team is giving that love back to Detroit with food. Baobab is more than a restaurant. It’s also a juice bar, food truck, and grocery store that embodies the spirit of “Detroit Ni Nyymbani,” which means Detroit is Home.

  • Location: New Center Area 
  • Owners: Hamissi Mamba and Nadia Nijimbere
  • Type of Cuisine: Burundi, East African 
  • Menu Spotlight: Samaki, Side of Rice Pilau, Mboga, Nyumbani. 
  • Before you go: Closed on Mondays. Vegetarian options are available.

Detroit Vegan Soul

Detroit Vegan Soul is Detroit’s first fully vegan restaurant. Guests will enjoy their favorite comfort foods made with fresh, organic, and completely plant-based ingredients. The menu is prepared without GMO products, additives, refined flour, sugars, dairy, eggs, and animal products.

It’s a national chain of restaurants in major urban markets nationwide whose owners are on a mission to change the perception of veganism and help create a culture that understands the healing power of plant-based food.

  • Location: Grand River Avenue 
  • Owners: Erika Boyd and Kirsten Ussery
  • Type of Cuisine: Vegan Soul Food
  • Menu Spotlight: The Soul Platter, a signature soul food sampler platter with mac-n-cheese, smoked collard greens, candied sweet potatoes, pinto beans & brown rice topped with green onion and cornbread.
  • Before you go: The restaurant doesn’t accept reservations. It’s open Wednesday through Friday from 12 to 6 p.m.

Detroit Pizza Bar

Most people know about New York-style pizza, Chicago-style pizza, and the iconic jumbo pizza from Washington, D.C. The owner of Detroit Pizza Bar wants to change that and put Detroit-style pizza, which is square with the sauce on top, on the map.

The specialty pizza menu features pizza named after some of Motown’s Greats, Detroit influencers and Liv| 6 Streets. Some pizza names are The Supremes, The Temptations, The J5, and The Coleman Young.

Aside from Detroit-style pizza, the Detroit Pizza Bar is home to some of the best wings in the city.

  • Location: Highland Park 
  • Owners: Marcus Jones and Akunna Olumba
  • Type of Cuisine: American 
  • Menu Spotlight: The Supremes is an eight-sliced deep dish Detroit-style (sauce on the top) pizza with a four-cheese blend, red sauce, pepperoni, ham, Italian sausage crumbles, seasoned ground beef, and bacon. Sweet Chili chicken wings. 
  • Before you go: Closed Monday through Wednesday. Vegan options are available. 

Good Cakes and Bakes

There is no better place to have your cake and eat it than at Good Cakes and Bakes when you’re craving something sweet.

The bakery lives up to the hype of having exactly what you need when your taste buds long for a fantastic snack.

The menu includes cakes, cinnamon rolls, ice cream, and ice cream cookie sandwiches, as well as biscuit sandwiches and soups. Shipping is available nationwide if you try something you love during your visit.

  • Locations: Downton Location, Livernois Location
  • Owners: April Anderson and Michelle Anderson 
  • Type of Cuisine: American Dessert 
  • Menu Spotlight: Strawberry Crunch Cake, Banana Pudding. 
  • Before you go: Vegan options are available. Ships nationwide. 

Ima Izakaya

A vibrant and inviting blue building sets the tone for the welcoming, award-winning restaurant inside Ima Izakaya at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Wabash Street.

When Chef and owner Michael Ransom first moved to Detroit in 1999, he lived with a sushi chef who kindled his passion for culinary arts and Japanese cuisine. Ransom has traveled all over, gaining culinary experience from coast to coast. He’s now back in his home state, serving Detroit-style noodles and what has been dubbed the best ramen in the city.

Ima Noodles is a Japanese-inspired fare with Midwestern ingredients and roots.

  • Location: Midtown 
  • Owner: Chef Michael Ransom
  • Type of Cuisine: Japanese inspired. 
  • Menu Spotlight: Spicy Seafood Kimchi Ramen, Japanese Curry. 
  • Before you go: Reservations can be made and are highly encouraged. Monday through Friday, from 3 to 6 p.m., is Happy Hour.

Petty Cash

Located in the Green Acres neighborhood is the seasonal high-end restaurant Petty Cash. Co-founder Kelly McBride was ready to bring an elevated restaurant experience to a neighborhood he says has historically been filled with fast-food restaurants and chains. This restaurant is an upscale yet approachable experience inspired by the co-founders’ Black Southern roots.

The co-founders believe cash is an afterthought to the savoring moment they have created through food, cocktails, vibes, and conversations sparked in these special moments, hence the name Petty.

  • Location: Green Acres Neighborhood
  • Owner: Former NFL Player Ron Bartell, Kelly McBride
  • Type of Cuisine: Southern 
  • Menu Spotlight: Seafood risotto, Baharat spiced lamb ribs. 
  • Before you go: Closed Monday through Thursday; Weekend restaurant. 


There’s only one place in the Midwest that touts “Northern Soul Food,” and you will find it inside Savannahblue. The menu features what the owners call “contemporary northern soul food,” a combination of southern flavors presented with Detroit-style. 

Savannahblue also boasts incredible wine and cocktail lists made with fresh-squeezed juices, complementing the delicious meal offerings.

What’s also fun about spending time in Savannahblue is the comfortable and inviting atmosphere, with the soulful sounds of the Savannah playing in the background.

  • Location: Times Square in Downtown Detroit 
  • Owner: J.D. Simpson
  • Type of Cuisine: Contemporary Northern Soul Food. 
  • Menu Spotlight: Surf and turf (glazed short rib and crab-stuffed shrimp served over a bed of sautéed kale, roasted bell pepper, and mushroom risotto), seafood chowder (a seafood-filled chowder with bites of potato in a creamy tomato base), and sweet potato cheesecake. 
  • Before you go: Reservations are highly encouraged. There is a dress code. No casual clothes, and there’s a strict no-hat policy. You should also avoid overly revealing clothing, including spandex attire. 

Shell Shock’d Tacos

Known as Detroit’s Finest Tacos, Shell Shock’d Tacos combines Detroit’s style with Latin-inspired street food.

Founded by two Detroit natives during the pandemic, the founders ignored limitations by elevating simple food items into something delightful. Taco Tuesday is everything but ordinary here.  The menu features uniquely flavored items and welcoming service that create memorable experiences that will make you want more.

  • Location: Midtown
  • Owner: Cedric Andrews, Danielle “Margo Moon” Bigham
  • Type of Cuisine: Latin-inspired 
  • Menu Spotlight: Birria taco, Elote shrimp with mini corn. 
  • Before you go: The restaurant doesn’t take reservations, but you can order takeout. 


SuperCrisp is another Chef Mike Ransom creation. While Ima focuses on ramen, SuperCrisp is all about Japanese-inspired street and comfort foods. The menu features a variety of Japanese-inspired fried sandwiches and snacks, burger creations (with ingredients you probably didn’t know would mesh well together), hot dogs, salads, soup, healthy comfort foods, and so much more. The fast-food restaurant also offers fun desserts such as funnel cake fries and a variety of Japanese sodas.

  • Location: Midtown
  • Owner: Chef Mike Ransom
  • Type of Cuisine: Japanese-inspired street food
  • Menu Spotlight: SuperCrisp Burger, Spicy French Fries, Wasabi Burger, Oki Fries. 
  • Before you go: Vegetarian and Halal-friendly.

Sweet Potato Sensations

Sweet Potato Sensations is a true love story by Jeffrey and Cassandra Thomas. During their first Thanksgiving together after their marriage in 1976, Jeffrey was pleased to have sweet potatoes on the menu like his mother used to make. Cassandra, who did not like candied yams, created a recipe for sweet potato cookies, which turned out to be a hit, prompting them to start a cookie business.

In 2014, the couple launched a savory menu that included sweet potato waffles and pancakes, soups, sandwiches, salmon croquettes, and more.

More than 30 years later, Thomas’s has revolutionized the sweet potato and become an iconic Detroit bakery.

  • Location: Midtown
  • Owners: Jeffrey and Cassandra Thomas
  • Type of Cuisine: Dessert and Southern Comfort Foods 
  • Menu Spotlight: Black eye pea and collard green soup, sweet potato cornbread, sweet potato cobbler with sweet potato ice cream, sweet potato pancakes, waffles, and, of course, sweet potato pie. 
  • Before you go: Closed Monday through Wednesday. 

Detroit has its own style, which you wouldn’t know unless you’re from there. Black-owned restaurant owners are changing the world’s perception of Detroit and introducing people to a different flair of the Midwest, since Chicago has overshadowed it for too long. Discovering Detroit’s unique culinary cuisine is introducing people to a word.