The Black-owned businesses to support in Washington, D.C. before, during, and after the election of the century.
Between the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the White House, calls for justice outside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and the upcoming presidential election (that could determine the fate of the nation), Washington, D.C., has seen its fair share of stress in 2020.
But now is no time to abandon the U.S. capital. With over a million Black-identifying residents in the metropolitan area, D.C. is one of the Blackest cities in the United States. And in a year rife with challenges for the Black community, as well as the return of the Movement for Black Lives to the spotlight, we can and should all keep showing up for the cause (and enjoy some top-tier food and goods along the way).
Below, find 20 Black-owned businesses to support in Washington, D.C.—before, on, and long after November 3rd.
Black-Owned D.C. Restaurants to Support
Oohh’s & Aahh’s in Brightwood/U Street
Yes: the name of this restaurant does accurately describe your reaction to the menu. For jumbo crab cakes, fried catfish, and hearty helpings of gravy-doused mashed potatoes and mac and cheese, come on down—and come hungry.
District Soul Food in Barracks Row/Capitol Hill
In trying times (and any time), nothing nourishes the body and spirit like soul food—and District’s got you. While we could be in it for the happy hour menu alone (hello, craft cocktails and crab fries!), don’t miss out on their full offerings: shrimp and grits, catfish po’boys, and fried green tomatoes with a pimento cheese spread.
HalfSmoke in Shaw
For a fast-casual meal and diner-style food that can’t be beat, hit HalfSmoke. Their specialty: signature smoked sausages, including bratwurst, lamb, spicy chicken andouille, and more. (Still, the highlight here may be the “No Judgement” platter. Stacked with mozzarella sticks, mac n’ cheese bites, tater tots, and pigs in a blanket, the name and the offering really speak to us.)
Ben’s Chili Bowl & Ben’s Upstairs (multiple locations)
The star of the show is in the name! Opened in 1958, Ben’s has seen sloughs of D.C. history unfold over the decades, serving up meals through the race riots of 1968 and getting a well-earned visit from President Barack Obama days before his inauguration in 2009. Today, their chili still goes strong, whether con carne, veggie, or slathered over hot, crispy french fries.
Po Boy Jim in H Street/Shaw
For a taste of New Orleans in the nation’s capital, look no further than Jeffeary Miskiri’s Po Boy Jim for creole classics, including hot gumbo, seafood pasta, beignets and bread pudding, and 17—yes, seventeen—different types of po’boys.
Creole on 14th in Columbia Heights
Another hit from Jeffeary Miskiri, folks near Columbia Heights should head to Creole on 14th for their own slice of Southern comfort heaven. With New Orleans-inspired dishes and craft cocktails, keep your eye on their fried green tomatoes, crab claws, and piping-hot shrimp plates.
Florida Avenue Grill in Shaw
Opened in 1944, Florida Avenue Grill claims to be the oldest soul food restaurant in the world. Lucky for us, their menu has survived the test of time: we’ll take a stack of hotcakes, smothered fried pork chops, and cajun-fried catfish to-go, please.
Led by brother-and-sister chef duo Peter Prime and Jeanine Prime, Cane brings the flavors of Trinidad and Tobago to the people of D.C. With a menu that prides itself on its multiculturalism (Trinidad’s own culture blend of French, African, and Indian influences and more), dig into everything from classic Trini doubles to jerk wings, oxtail, and snapper.
Black-Owned D.C. Retail Businesses to Support
Calabash Tea & Tonic in Brookland/Shaw
For anybody in the D.C. area in desperate need of rest and relaxation (a.k.a. everybody), Calabash has everything you need. Pick up some aromatherapeutics or body care in store, or subscribe to their monthly Calabox for teas, spices, and more delivered directly to your door.
Mahogany Books in Anacostia
Mahogany brands itself as “the place where Black books matter.” With a selection ranging from romance and comics to non-fiction, their selection centers and uplifts Black voices. Pick up your next read in person or during their Tuesday to Friday curbside pickup, or follow along with their staff recommendations and curated book lists online.
Nubian Hueman in Anacostia
Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you can’t look good doing it! At Nubian Hueman, stock up on comfy, community-strong apparel—then get cozy with soaps, face masks, essential oils, and other goodies guaranteed to lower your blood pressure.
Everard’s Clothing in Georgetown
Run by husband-and-wife team Louis & Jennifer Everard—the former of whom grew up working in a tailor shop in Jamaica before spending two decades with Bloomingdale’s—Everard’s carries a special selection of high-end clothing and accessories, perfect for the upscale shopper in your life.
Zaaf in National Harbor
Established in 2014 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the Zaaf collection was created to highlight and empower African artisans. Their brick-and-mortar shops feature clutches, totes, backpacks, and bags for everybody—all for the most adventurous and fashionable jet-setters.
The Spice Suite in Takoma
At the Spice Suite, a haven for Black entrepreneurs awaits. Angel, the shop’s owner and a community activist (you can listen to her story directly on their site), brings together a community of Black women for a marketplace that sells everything from desserts and cocktails to clothing, jewelry, candles, fragrances, and body oils.
The Museum DC in Woodridge
Lovers of art and fashion should turn to the Museum’s colorful designs for any apparel needs. There’s a little something for everyone: socks, t-shirts, hats, sandals, racing jackets, and even some timely face masks line the shelves of this shop on Rhode Island Ave.
Lee’s Flower Shop on U Street
Brighten your day with a bouquet from family-owned flower shop Lee’s, where you can buy blooms for any occasion from birthdays and holidays to simply welcoming in fall weather. (In times like these, don’t hesitate to spruce up your own home: You buy flowers for your loved ones, and that should include yourself!)
Market 7 in Ward 7
Another marketplace to watch, Market 7 puts Black-owned businesses on the forefront. With a mission to breathe prosperity, stability, and wellness into the Ward 7 community, shop from their collection of vendors specializing in candles, jewelry, and vegan goods.
Black Museums and Must-Sees
Opened in 2016, the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture is the first of its kind in the United States: It’s the only national museum dedicated to documenting Black life and culture in America. With a collection boasting 36,000 artifacts, the NMAAHC operates on four pillars: to provide a chance to learn about Black culture to those interested; to help Americans understand how global influences come together in the U.S.; to explore what it means to be an American; and to bring together the Black community across the nation.
Established in 2004, this museum chronicles the legacy of the 209,145 members of the United States Colored Troops who served during the Civil War and their contributions to ending slavery—a story that American history lessons often neglect to acknowledge—as well as the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
Even in a city rife with world-famous landmarks—the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and the President’s residence itself—the Black Lives Matter Plaza is still one of the most captivating creations to come out of the capital. Situated proudly on 16th Street NW, activists painted this mural just outside the White House to remind the country that the Movement for Black Lives isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon.