As we leave Black History Month behind and begin Women’s History Month with Mardi Gras on March 1st, it’s the perfect time to pay tribute to today’s black women restaurateurs at New Orleans and the entrepreneurial spirit of enslaved black women cooks who paved the way for them. Freed and enslaved black women drew inspiration from African traditions and cultures, ultimately contributing to what we now call New Orleans Creole cuisine and Southern soul food. Here are the best black women-owned restaurants in New Orleans where you can enjoy an authentic (and unforgettable) taste of Crescent City.
In most black families in NOLA, cooking skills were taught by the oldest women in the family. The wide-eyed, inquisitive little black girls would be happy to sit in a warm kitchen, watching the women fill the nights and early mornings cooking, cooking and telling stories. I was one of those little girls who loved every minute in the kitchen with my grandmother Momo, who shared how she and black women before her made extra money cooking and baking. My grandmother hosted church suppers and sold packed lunches and hot plates to men working on the Mississippi Pier, construction sites, and the railroad.
These black women were more than just cooks; they were also self-made entrepreneurs, creating a business model that was passed down and continues to thrive in the town of Crescent today. Generations later, black women in New Orleans proudly continue to follow their food-stages as restaurant owners, caterers, food truck owners, street vendors, etc.
Join me in celebrating the women who proudly carry on the culinary traditions of New Orleans and the legacy of countless strong, influential and creative black women of yesterday. Next time you’re in Crescent City, be sure to visit these black women-owned restaurants that continue to add flavor to the New Orleans dining scene.
Dooky Chase, Treme Historic District
2301 Orleans Ave, New Orleans, LA 70119
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Known as the “Queen of Creole Cuisine,” the late Leah Chase founded one of the first African-American fine-dining restaurants in the United States, Dooky Chase, in 1941. This upscale restaurant, which served the former president Barack Obama, is known for Leah’s Creole Gumbo, which she believes could solve the world’s problems. The roux is the secret to the rich and complex flavor of okra.
In addition to dinner on Fridays and Saturdays, Dooky Chase also serves a lunch buffet of New Orleans favorites such as kidney beans and rice, stuffed shrimp, bread pudding, okra and more. Tuesday to Friday. Mrs. Leah passed away on June 1, 2019, but her legacy and recipes continue to thrive today under the guidance of her daughter, Stella Chase Reese.