Best soul food, bbq, Black-owned restaurants in Palm Beach County

Versie Dortch
At Queen of Sheeba, "sambusa" pastries stuffed with a choice of lentil or meat and served with spicy cilantro-jalapeno sauce. The full-service Ethiopian restaurant owned by chef Lojo Washington is in West Palm Beach's Northwest Historic District.

In a county as diverse as Palm Beach, February reminds us to not only celebrate Black History Month but explore the many cultures of the African diaspora. For local diners, it promises to be a flavorful month. 

Southern soul food and barbecue favorites. Trinidadian doubles. Ethiopian doro wot. Puerto Rican mofongo. Where to begin the celebration? 

Here are five Black-owned restaurants to put on your list this month. 

The signature dish at Off Tha Bone BBQ in West Palm Beach: the spare ribs.

Off Tha Bone BBQ You’ll find this family-owned barbecue destination just north of Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard, and it’s worth a stop for everything from smoky ribs and barbecued chicken to Southern-style pork souse (mostly on weekends), collards and yam. Chef/owner Daniel Spann, who turned a roadside stand into a business with a cult following, plans to open a second location on Haverhill Road soon. 1516 N. Tamarind Ave., West Palm Beach, 561-294-9717,FallOffThaBone.com

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A spread of Trinidadian dishes from Chunkay.

Chunkay Chef Wendy Tilkaran and her wife/business partner Evita Thomas originally opened their Trini concept as a takeout spot in Lake Worth Beach. In May 2021, they moved the business north to the Garden Road warehouse area of Riviera Beach. “Warehouse area” doesn’t mean there’s a lack of charm at the street-food establishment, which offers indoor and outdoor seating. On the menu: a variety of roti (soft grilled flatbreads filled with curried meats and veggies), curried goat, saltfish buljol (salted cod salad), Chef Wendy’s specialty corn soup and other bites. You’ll find vegan and vegetarian options, island drinks such as sorrel juice and peanut milk punch and bottled tamarind sauce, among other specials. 8344 Garden Ave., Riviera Beach, 561-473-3710,Chunkay.app

The oxtail and grits bowl is served on weekends at Big John's Eatery in suburban West Palm Beach, where brunch is served all day.

Big John’s Eatery Brunch all day from Wednesday through Sunday? It’s happening in suburban West Palm Beach, where John “Big John” LeJeune operates a two-year-old diner that’s inspired by his wife Sasha’s home-cooking. Brunch specialties reflect Sasha’s Panamanian heritage, John’s Haitian roots and their love of American soul food: shrimp and grits, peach cobbler French toast, chicken and waffles and Sasha’s famous oxtail and grits (weekends only). 100 Sansburys Way, Suite 100 (steps from Dick’s Sporting Goods in The Shoppes at Southern Palms), West Palm Beach, 561-333-2333,BigJohnsEatery.com

Pastry chef Jamal Lake of Ganache bakery in West Palm Beach prepares his dessert course at The Regional restaurant during the 2022 Palm Beach Food and Wine Festival. The molten cake dessert earned Lake a big win on Food Network's "Guy's Grocery Games."

Ganache There’s a good reason why West Palm Beach pastry chef Jamal Lake recently won the “Dessert Wars” challenge on  the Food Network series “Guy’s Grocery Games” (Season 31) for his molten chocolate cake with sweet potato ice cream and toasted meringue. He’s a terrific chef, and it’s a killer dessert. I had the chance to sample (read: inhale) that winning dessert in December during the Palm Beach Food and Wine Festival’s “Southern Revival” lunch at chef Lindsay Autry’s Regional Kitchen restaurant. What a treat. The St. Croix-born Lake creates such treats at Ganache, his downtown bakery. 306 S. Dixie Hwy, West Palm Beach; 561-507-5082,GanacheBakeryCafe.com

"Doro wot," chicken stewed in robust African chili spices and served with a hard-boiled egg, is the national dish of Ethiopia. It is served at Queen of Sheeba, a full-service Ethiopian restaurant situated in West Palm Beach's Northwest Historic District and owned by chef Lojo Washington.

Queen of Sheeba Welcome to Lojo Washington’s dream come true, the Ethiopian restaurant she founded in the West Palm Beach Historic Northwest District space where she operated a soul-food takeout window for years. This is where Washington, one of five Palm Beach County chefs to make last week’s semifinals list for a prestigious James Beard Award, offers a menu that pays homage to her native Ethiopia. My favorites on that menu include the savory sambusa pastries, the aromatic lentil stew called misir wot, the doro wot chicken that’s slow-cooked in berbere sauce and is Ethiopia’s national dish and so many other bites. 716 N. Sapodilla Ave., West Palm Beach, 561-514-0615,QueenofSheebaWPB.com

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Craving claws

In North Palm Beach, Cod and Capers Seafood Marketplace and Café offers fresh claws in the market as well as Stone Crab Nights in the onsite restaurant.

The big weeknights at Cod & Capers Seafood are Wednesdays and Thursdays, when Florida and Bahamian stone crabs are celebrated with steel drums during claw season. On Stone Crab Night, the island music welcomes you to a leisurely wait for the freshly cracked delicacies. And by “leisurely,” I mean grab a chair, order a drink and enjoy the music for a while. But know that the wait is worth it.

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