Ahadu Ellie Logan

Seattle Soul

The Black community in Seattle has been shaping the city’s culture, artistic expression, and dining scene since the late 19th century, especially in the Central District, First Hill, and Southeast Seattle. Many of the most celebrated restaurants in town, from high-end bistros to casual cafes, are owned by Black chefs.

Naomi Tomky
A person wearing a grey shirt sits at a table with a large plate filled with food in front of them.

Ahadu Ellie Logan

Within months of opening her first restaurant, Condé Nast Traveler named chef Kristi Brown’s Communion (2530 E Union St) one of the world’s 12 best new restaurants. Brown calls her cuisine “Seattle Soul,” for its mashup of Black American soul food, Vietnamese sandwiches, and other influences from her Seattle childhood. Central District’s Jerk Shack Kitchen (1133 24th Ave, STE N) specializes in flavorful made-from-scratch jerk chicken, smoked ribs, and soft shell crab sandwiches—dishes that reflect the Jamaican heritage of chef-owner Trey Lamont. At Columbia City’s Royal Esquire Club, the Comfort Zone (5016 Rainier Ave S) prepares delicious soul food classics, including a killer mac and cheese.

James Beard–nominated Lil Red’s (4225 Rainier Ave S) specializes in soul food and Jamaican barbecue, reflecting the influences of husband-and-wife owners Erasto “Big Red” Jackson (he learned to cook barbecue from his grandmother) and Lelieth “Lil” Jackson (she’s Jamaican). Try the spicy jerk chicken, tender pork ribs, and smoky sausages. Trinidadian cuisine takes center stage at Pam’s Kitchen (1715 N 45th St), which is known for slow-cooked curries, coconut fry bread, and creamy callaloo soup. And the bright, island-style colors of Mojito (7545 Lake City Way NE) match the flavorful Latin American Caribbean food: vivid green guasacaca sauce made from avocados, and bright yellow pineapple sautéed with shrimp. Bold colors are also the stars of rōJō Juice, where former ER technician Rhonda Faison dispenses cold-pressed drinks made from organic fruits and vegetables at her stall inside Corner Produce at Pike Place Market.

The superb Ethiopian restaurant Ahadu (1518 NE 117th St) serves beef raised on Washington ranches. Somalian food truck Mama Sambusa Kitchen (8319 Wabash Ave S) keeps the lights on late to feed fans of its eponymous appetizer (sambusas are triangular pastries with various fillings), a hearty halal meal, or a slice of Fruity Pebbles cheesecake. Savor similarly creative sweets at woman- and LGBTQ-owned Shikorina Pastries (H2418 E Union St)—the chocolate-covered “cakesicles” are to die for. And Creamy Cone Cafe (9433 Rainier Ave S), with luscious ice cream in novel flavors like banana pudding and toffee coffee crunch.


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