28 Days of Soul Food: Day 18
This first-ever steakhouse guide definitively spotlights Black-owned establishments that have put their own spin on the country's most classic restaurant concept.
I’ve been conducting research on and off over the past five years in an effort to find Black-owned steakhouses across the country. You see, one of my little gigs on the side is uncovering every steakhouse in the country for the site Best Steak Restaurants.
It’s been fun and all, but it’s also been pretty difficult to find the Black owned ones because, frankly, they barely exist. I couldn’t believe that no one has ever compiled the few that are out there in a guide, so I just did it myself.
But before I delved into these restaurants below, which span the country from coast to coast, I asked two industry experts why they felt there was a lack of Black-owned steakhouses.
“It’s expensive,” says Teddy Gilmore, who owns the classic American-focused Nipsey’s Restaurant on Chicago’s South Side. “Most people don’t realize that most steakhouses have [at least] half a million dollars worth of meat in their freezers. They are very expensive to maintain, plus you’ve got to have the proper storage facility.
“They’re buying the entire cow, not individual steaks,” he explains during our latest chat on the LIVE! Culinary Series. “That’s an expensive game to get into.” He adds that he plans to get into the steakhouse game with ownership, at some point in his career.
Chef Mychael Bonner, who partners with hospitality juggernaut Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises (LEYE) for the Italian focused Di Pescara, Petterino’s, and Saranello’s in the Chicago area, said something similar during our conversation.
“Steak is a very expensive, high-ticket item, and the entry level to open a steakhouse is pretty high to serve good quality steaks,” explains Bonner. “But within our own community of Black chefs, I think we are starting to venture outside of what we’re known for.
“There are a lot of Black restaurants that focus on fried chicken, or ribs, or barbecue, and good Southern cuisine. While that’s all good, I think over the past five years, we’re just now starting to venture outside of that and explore what else we can do.”
His Petterino’s, which is temporarily closed due to the pandemic, is technically one of three Black-owned steakhouses in the Chicago area. Though it’s Italian focused, he serves several premium steak cuts on the menu.
Here are more to consider across the country.
Blaze Steak & Seafood (Atlanta)
“Real Housewives of Atlanta” star and entrepreneur Kandi Burruss and her husband, Todd Tucker, are behind this splashy steakhouse concept in South Fulton, Georgia, that opened last fall. In addition to a prime New York strip, char-broiled filet, and Delmonico ribeye topped with a Worcestershire reduction, Blaze features many Southern dishes. You’ll find shrimp and grits, charred oysters, seafood fritters, gumbo, and even fried apple pies on the menu. You’ll also spot many celebrities rolling through.
Brooklyn Chop House (Brooklyn)
Owned by music industry impresario Robert "Don Pooh" Cummins, Brooklyn Chop House is also a hot spot for celebrities like Jamie Foxx. It’s also a serious steakhouse with the likes of a 48-ounce porterhouse for two, Colorado lamb chops, and 16-ounce, crispy filet on the menu. All steaks are prime and dry aged 30 days to 35 days.
The Cecil (Harlem, NYC)
Richard Parsons is a media mogul and chef Alexander Smalls is a famed author and man about town. With The Cecil, the aim is to hark back to the glorious days of the Harlem Renaissance period. They come pretty darn close. There’s live music and deejays spinning the latest cuts. And the crowd is fly. The menu showcases a couple of vegan options, including a cauliflower steak, but the stars are all made from Angus beef: prime rib, t-bone, and porterhouse.
Fort Oak (San Diego)
Meat master Brad Wise is executive chef and partner at Fort Oak, and one of the showstoppers is the 40-day dry-aged ribeye topped with house-made beef fat worcestershire butter. This is a very chef-driven and seasonal eatery, with chicken-fried quail and goat milk cavatelli on the appetizer menu. A Duroc pork chop comes with coal-roasted Brussels sprouts, while American wagyu is enhanced by burnt eggplant and pickled mustard demi glace.
Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse
Everyone knows that Jordan pretty much excels at everything and this concept is no different. In addition to the Chicagoland locations for Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse, there are outposts in Connecticut, Portland, and Vancouver, Washington. Real ballers go for the Legendary Flight, which consists of hearty portions of Australian wagyu filet, Miyazaki wagyu, prime dry-aged Delmonico, broiled lobster tail, shrimp scampi, and roasted jumbo lump crab. But before you indulge in all that, order the bacon appetizer. It’s double-smoked bacon that’s infused with Burton's maple glaze.
The Motown Bistro (Detroit)
Jai Dearing is a second-generation restaurateur who decided to pay homage to his hometown’s greatest legacy with this swanky steakhouse and live-music venue. Motown Bistro features a lot of fun, chef-driven apps you can share such as catfish nuggets, lobster macaroni and cheese, and blue crab potato skins. Steak favorites range from a 14-ounce New York strip to an 18-ounce cowboy ribeye. Surf and turf pairings are also especially popular here, and the signature Motown surf and turf consists of a New York strip or petite filet and half lobster thermidor stuffed with crab. It’s a hit!
Mychael Bonner’s Italian steakhouse Petterino’s is adjacent to the famed Goodman Theater, and pre-pandemic, it was always crowded. Classic handmade pastas are ideal for sharing with friends before indulging in individual servings of the parmesan-crusted filet trio, braised beef short rib, or certified black Angus New York strip with au jus and fries.
Rare Society (San Diego, Solona Beach)
Chef Brad Wise boasts two locations for his globally focused concept for Rare Society. Start with truffled wagyu beef sausage or bacon that’s been gochujang glazed. All the main proteins are wood grilled, giving them that extra juicy flavor. On the menu you’ll find a large selection of steaks and chops, and, of course, they’re all premium. Choose from the likes of an eight-ounce filet, 16-ounce prime Cedar River ribeye, and 20-ounce 45-day dry-aged bone-in New York strip.
Sloppy Chops (Detroit)
There’s nothing messy at all about this modern steakhouse from owner and chef Al Moxley, whose signature sauce for the steaks is a secret — and well regarded. Sloppy Chops features quite a few entrees drizzled with his secret weapon, from a 10-ounce herb-encrusted filet to 44-ounce French-cut Tomahawk ribeye. They’re all char-grilled. There is also fried lobster on the menu.
Soirée Steakhouse & Oyster House (Kansas City, Mo.)
This Kansas City steakhouse is Black owned and woman owned, which is even rarer. Chef and owner Anita Moore is behind the operation at Soirée, which includes seasonal ingredients and New Orleans-inspired bites such as crab cakes in a remoulade sauce, fried green tomatoes, and char-grilled oysters saturated in an herb butter sauce. The steak highlight is a 14-ounce Hawaiian ribeye, but there’s also steak frites with house-made bourbon butter and surf and turf (12-ounce New York strip, garlic herb mash, grilled shrimp, whiskey parmesan cream sauce).