Where to Find African-Inspired Cuisine in Florida
By Dalia Colón
Florida attracts people from all over the world, and they bring their diverse cuisines with them. Whether you’re looking for a taste of home or ready to try something new, check out these restaurants featuring African and African American-inspired food.
Meat dominates the menu at most soul food eateries. But at this vegan joint, veggies take center stage. Find all your favorites—mac and cheese, collard greens, cornbread and the like—with all of the flavor and none of the dairy. Stop by for Sunday brunch complete with pancakes, grits and scrambled tofu and vegan sausage patties. The restaurant also offers vegan cooking classes. 1205 S Adams St., Tallahassee, (850) 765-9125, soulvegtallahassee.com.
Josiah Southern Cooking
This eatery is small in size but big on flavor. Southern staples abound, like fried chicken, smothered pork chops, yams and collard greens. Owner Sharolyn Gaines will chat you up with friendly conversation, leaving both your heart and your belly full. 1003 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Panama City, (850) 730-6087.
G&G Caribbean Restaurant
When politicians and college students need a break from cafeteria food, there’s this restaurant that brings a taste of Jamaica to the state’s capital. You’ll find standards like oxtails, jerk chicken salad, plantains, ackee and saltfish. Curry options include chicken, goat and shrimp. 745 Apalachee Parkway, Tallahassee, (850) 727-4065.
The Potter’s House Soul Food Bistro
If your idea of a perfect Sunday is church service followed by a big meal, then you’ll thank God for this restaurant with Westside and Southside locations. Owned by the Potter’s House Christian Fellowship of Jacksonville, the gathering place is a go-to for food and fellowship. Choose from the dinner buffet or order a la carte, with options including fried or herb-roasted chicken, smothered pork chops and smoked turkey. Sides like mac and cheese, fried cabbage and “Slap Yo Mamma Cornbread” are downright sinful. 9400 Atlantic Blvd., Jacksonville, (904) 394-2801; and 5310 Lenox Avenue, suite 1, Jacksonville, (904) 394-0860, thesoulfoodbistro.com.
Sunrise Caribbean Gourmet
No online ordering? No problem. Just call and name your favorite Jamaican dish, and there’s a good chance it’s on the menu. Ackee and saltfish, cow foot, stew beef, chicken or beef patties, oxtails, veggie stew… you’ll find it all here. 1415 Edgewood Ave N, Jacksonville, (9040 783-0102.
Ibex Ethiopian Kitchen
Choose to share dishes family-style, or order your own meal. Specialties include kitfo (seasoned beef), alicha wot (split pea curry), lamb kikil (stew) and other traditional favorites. Vegans can have their fill of tomato fit fit (vegetables mixed with flatbread), yellow split peas and other plant-based options. 5111 Baymeadows Road, Jacksonville, (904) 551-0403, ibexkitchen.com.
Island Flavors and ‘Tings
This South St. Petersburg restaurant has all the flavors you’ve been craving, like beef patties, rum-glazed ribs, curry veggie roti and “reggae salad” topped with jerk chicken. Don’t forget side dishes like Jamaican hard-dough bread, coco bread, yellow rice and fried plantains. And save room for the restaurant’s award-winning mango bread. In addition to prepared foods, the eatery’s store carries every“ting” else you might need—jerk seasonings, pepper sauces, cookbooks, Carribbean dolls, fresh produce and the requisite Bob Marley posters. 1411 49th St. South, Gulfport, (727) 804-1849, islandflavorsandtings.vpweb.com.
For a sweet escape, stop by this award-winning bakery in Orlando’s SoDo district. The name pays homage to owner Evette Rahman’s mother, who was known for her dulcet demeanor. Cakes from red velvet to hummingbird to coconut will remind you of your own family, while other innovative menu items tempt you to try something new: peach blueberry pie, blueberry lemon bread pudding, apple rum raisin bread pudding and much more. 247 E. Michigan St., Orlando, (407) 730-7315, sisterhoneys.com.
Nile Ethiopian Restaurant
Take your tastebuds to eastern Africa when you visit this I-Drive eatery. Use your injera, a sourdough flatbread, to dig into a family-style feast of doro alicha (stewed chicken), beef zilbo (stew) and other traditional favorites. There are plenty of vegetarian options, too, like lentil sambusas (filled pastries), collard greens, split peas and more. 7048 International Drive, Orlando, (407) 354-0026, nileorlando.com.
Singh’s Roti Shop
This eatery doesn’t have a website, but with food this good, all you need is word of mouth. Trinidadian favorites like doubles (seasoned chickpeas on fried dough) and aloo pie (fried dough stuffed with mashed potatoes) are available. And then there are the main dishes, which come with your choice of roti (flatbread) or rice: curried chicken, shrimp, beef, goat or duck; oxtails are also available. 5244 Old Winter Garden Road, Orlando, (407) 253-2900.
Bill Clinton and Jesse Jackson have given Chef Eddie’s their seal of approval, and you’ll agree. Owners Eddie and Bessie James put their foot into Southern classics like barbecued ribs, pulled pork, fried chicken and garlic shrimp. Save room for sweet potato pie. There’s also a separate menu just for chicken and waffles varieties, because it is that serious. 595 W Church St., Orlando, (407) 826-1731, chefeddies.com.
Chef Creole Seasoned Kitchen
With a half-dozen South Florida locations (including Little Haiti, of course), your favorite island flavors are never far away. Born in the Bahamas to Haitian parents, owner Ken Pierre and his late brother, Jude, have set the standard for stewed chicken, oxtails and especially seafood. Their restaurant has earned props from everyone from Haitian-born musician Wyclef Jean to Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade to the late Anthony Bourdain. To bring a taste of the restaurant home with you, pick up a bottle of Chef’s Creole marinade. For locations and phone numbers, see chefcreole.com.
Locals, visitors and celebrity athletes alike flock to this Chinese-Jamaican Miami restaurant, which was featured on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” Owners Cheryl and Anson Chin offer a mashup menu that offers a nod to both Chinese and Jamaican cuisines, from curry goat to jerk pork fried rice. 8736 SW 72St. Miami, (305) 596-2585, jamaicakitchen.com.
Reggae Pon the Grille
This popular Jamaican spot opens early, so if you’ve been dreaming of ackee and saltfish or liver and bananas, when you wake up you can stop by for breakfast. For lunch and dinner, try oxtails, stew peas, mango chicken, pepper shrimp and all your other favorites. Vegetarians will find plenty of options, too, like callaloo, yams and more. 8032 W McNab Road, North Lauderdale, (754) 220-8738, reggaeonthegrille.com.
Jackson Soul Food
Don’t let the fancy plating fool you. The long lines at food festivals and Jackson’s two brick-and-mortar locations say it all: If you’re looking for homestyle comfort food, then you’ve come to the right place. Try a breakfast of fried liver and onions, salmon croquettes or boiled fish and grits. If that doesn’t leave you full all day, then return for lunch or dinner. Smothered pork chops, T-bone steak and barbecued chicken wings are accompanied by sides like candied yams, macaroni and cheese and cornbread dressing. You’ll swear your grandmama was in the kitchen cooking everything. 950 NW Third Ave., Miami, 305-374-7661; and 14511 NW 27th Ave., Opa Locka, (305) 982-8167, jacksonsoulfood.com.
World Famous House of Mac
Rapper Pitbull’s former manager, Derrick “Chief Teach” Turton, brings his Midas touch to soul food with a pair of Miami restaurants. The menu’s upscale mac and cheese options along are fit for a music mogul, more than a dozen varieties from five-truffle to lobster to vegan. Then there’s the chicken and waffles, Parmesean-crusted salmon, Philly cheesesteak pizza, red velvet cake and other plenty more. You can always turn on some Pitbull music and dance off the calories. 2055 NW Second Ave, Miami, (786) 636-6967; and 600 NW First Ave., mezzanine level, Miami, (786)636-6967, houseofmac.com.