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Food & DrinkThings to Do

Experiencing Black-Owned Downtown Houston

by Jordan Cutler    January 27, 2022

Let’s be real, Houston has so much to see and do that curating a list of places to visit—specifically ones owned by POC, might be a tad bit tough. Of course, you can ALWAYS depend on us at the Downtown District to have your back and come through! With that, here are some the best Black-owned places to shop, eat and experience in our neighborhood.

DAY SIX COFFEE CO. | 910 PRARIE

The only thing better than waking up in Downtown Houston, is waking up in Downtown Houston with a cup of Day Six coffee in your hand. This specialty shop, owned and operated by brothers RJ and Ian Wilson, has taken off since their opening—making it the perfect place to kickstart your day. With an array of caffeinated options like lavender lattes or classic coffee (named the #DowntownDrip), to unique pastries and baked goods like fruity pebbles cheesecake and to-die-for cinnamon rolls made by Ian Wilson himself …you’re quite literally “in for a treat.” 

As IF you needed any more reasons to visit, we’ll appease you by saying two words: Jazz. Nights. Every first and third Friday, enjoy live music in this cozy coffee chop (what a vibe) with beer & wine specials.

LIT CHICKEN HTX | 712 MAIN

With a tagline like, “Where it’s lit, there’s smoke,” you already know this spot is going to be on FIRE! Nestled in Finn Hall, make sure you come to Lit Chicken HTX with an empty stomach. Think, classic soul food dishes—but with some razzle dazzle. Their menu boasts a fried chicken that has been marinated and house brined for 48 hours and sides like southern braised greens, mac and cheese and loaded jollof rice.

BISONG ART GALLERY | 1305 STERRETT

For a glimpse into all things art in Downtown, this female, Black-owned art gallery in the Warehouse District perfectly blends community and creativity. Carla Bisong opened the gallery in 2013 with a mission to showcase talented artists that may not receive representation from larger art galleries. Known for the warm atmosphere and taking the “intimidation” out of purchasing original artwork, spend the afternoon here and get lost in the colors, textures and diverse art styles. Who knows? You may even be inspired to add one to your collection.

CUPCAKE AND A SMILE | 815 WALKER #T41

Sweeten up your day with a walk into the tunnels and a cupcake (or two) from Cupcake and a Smile. Shoutout to all the Downtown workers and locals who can make a stop here during the weekday – this one is for you! From 10 am-2 pm, stop by and grab delicious cupcakes made fresh by owner Sharndell Carr. With sweet treats like the Ooey Gooey Chocolate Cupcakes and Famous Cowgirl Cookies, this hidden gem is our guilty pleasure.

CHÒPNBLỌK | 401 FRANKLIN

POST HTX is the project we are ALL waiting for! With that, prep yourself, because opening in the highly anticipated food hall is a fast-casual West African restaurant that needs to be at the top of your to-try list. Featured on Marcus Samuelsson’s PBS show, “No Passport Required,” chef Ope Amosu is excited to intersect local communities with West African cultural traditions. We don’t know about you, but you’ll definitely catch us at “the Blok” in Fall ‘21.

ALL ACCESS ART MARKET | 712 MAIN

Houston’s art scene is extensive, so instead of hopping from place to place…let them come to you. The All Access Art Market has been hosting pop-ups since 2016 and promotes local emerging talent every month at Finn Hall. This experience is the best way to get connected to some of Houston’s Black artists and creatives.

ISLAND 1515 KITCHEN & RHUM BAR | 1515 PEASE

Who says you can’t experience the Caribbean in Houston? Before (or after) you visit the Toyota Center for a concert or game, check out Island 1515 Kitchen & Rhum Bar and experience authentic Caribbean dishes. Sip cocktails that feature rums from various regions of The Islands and enjoy delicious dishes that blend cuisine from a variety of regions and cultures. Enjoy entrees like the rastaman pasta or jerk duck wings paired with sweet plantains, followed by a heavenly slice of rum cake. While you may not be sitting on a crystal-clear beach, rest-assured, your belly will feel like it is. 

CRU LOUNGE | 311 TRAVIS

For a night out on the town (Downtown that is), head to the heart of Market Square to “Catch a Vibe.” Experience CRU, the largest Black-owned nightlife and hookah lounge chain in the US. Enjoy in-house curated hookah flavors, specialized small plate dishes and premium CRU-tails like the “CRU Rita” and the “Loving the CRU” for an unforgettable night. With fun day parties, CBD-infused offerings and more, this Black-owned and operated lounge is the perfect place to spend any day or night of the week!

PUR NOIRE | 802 MILAM

After traveling to Italy and discovering their passion for wine, co-owners Carissa and Kenneth Stephens embarked on a journey that led to a unique wine tasting room in the heart of Houston. Make a reservation to Pur Noire Urban Wineries, and with the guidance of an ambassador, indulge in up to six tastings from their quality wine collection. From Petite Sirah-based blends and Tempranillo Rosé, sip while you learn more about wine pairings and the winery that makes it all possible. After all, life is too short to drink bad wine! 

LUCY PEARL'S SWEETS | 401 FRANKLIN

Satisfy your sweet tooth inside POST HTX with Lucy Pearl's Sweets. Started by Ron and Nicole Morris, stop in for delicious recipes that have been passed down for five generations! Named in honor of Nicole's mother affectionately known as "Sweets," mouthwatering baked goods are NOT in short supply here. From the signature Banana Pudding cake to the famous Sour Cream Pineapple Coconut cake, sweeten up your visit with a trip to Lucy Pearl's. 

In addition to amazing businesses to support, here are a lineup of Black History Month events to celebrate Downtown!

BLACK HISTORY MONTH AT AVENIDA HOUSTON | Every Saturday in February; 1-4pm

Celebrate Black History Month with Houston First at a FREE celebration featuring a vendor market, art, music and family-friendly activities! Each Saturday in February, enjoy a new lineup of live entertainment presented by KTSU and an outdoor market in partnership with BLCK Market, showcasing 50+ Black-owned entrepreneurs.

VIBE N WRITE: A HOUSTON POET LAUREATE WORKSHOP | Feb 12; 11am 

Brought to you by Houston Public Library, join Outspoken Bean for a free (with registration) storytelling workshop set to original music by artist-producer Russell Guess. 

DREAMGIRLS | Feb 17-20 

Watch The Kinder HSPVA Black History Production unfold before your eyes. Designed and performed entirely by students, watch the Dreamettes rise to fame and become world-wine sensations through the dazzling 60s, 70s and 80s. Purchase tickets (starting at $15). 

UNBOUND GENIUS: BLACK COMPOSERS AND PERFORMERS AND THE GREAT MIGRATION | Feb 26; 3pm

As part of the Houston Public Library Black History Month celebration, join author and musician Rosalyn Story discuss how Black classical artists endured setbacks of racism, poverty, and gender discrimination to navigate a complex cultural landscape and change the face of American classical music during the Civil War and through Jim Crow. This program is presented by Houston Ebony Opera Guild and is free with registration

BLACK HISTORY HISTORIC HOME TOURS | Wednesday-Saturday; 10am, 11:30am, 1pm and 2:30pm. 

Learn about the history of African-Americans living in Houston before and after the Civil War. with tours, designed by Martha Whiting-Goodard (great-granddaughter of Reverend Hack Yates) of three historic structures at Heritage Society. Purchase tickets ($15). 



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