The time is upon us to celebrate the third annual DMV Black Restaurant Week, which is already in full swing. The weeklong celebration of local Black-owned restaurants in the area highlights food and drink specials to indulge in while also giving patrons a chance to support some of their favorite spots that have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
While COVID-19 shutdowns have affected virtually all local business owners, they’ve been especially harsh for Black-owned restaurants. Research at the University of California, Santa Cruz and a report by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that a whopping 41 percent of Black-owned businesses, around 440,000 enterprises, have been forced to shutter by the pandemic — compared to a disproportionately lower 17 percent of white-owned businesses.
“We have to support each other, certainly for minority entrepreneurs, whether they’re Black or other minority races,” Founder Andre McCain told WTOP. “Things can sometimes be a little bit more challenging with respect to getting in the business and operating the business sustainably.”
Prior to the pandemic, just seven percent of U.S. businesses were Black-owned, according to the data from UC Santa Cruz. By contrast, about 13 percent of restaurant employees are Black, according to federal data. Advocates say that these disparities are due largely to pre-existing economic inequities for Black Americans. Additionally, of the thousands of business owners that were granted PPP loans earlier this year, only 1.3 percent that declared their race as Black.
That’s why it’s more important than ever to show up for your favorite local Black-owned spots year-round, but this weekend there are extra incentives.
“There is such a large opportunity for food and beverage jobs that are a huge part of the local economy,” Dr. Tucker, a professor at Georgetown University and one of the celebration’s founders, told Washington City Paper. “It’s a seven-day opportunity to expose African American and allied businesses and help them promote their business to the city by inviting in customers throughout the week.”
The roster features more than 70 participating restaurants and runs through November 15, but we’re making it easy for you to spend your weekend eating good and doing good with a schedule that’ll have you in a food coma by the end of the weekend, guaranteed.
Saturday, November 14
Breakfast: Start your day off with the hot coffee that we already know you need from Culture Coffee Too, a Riggs Park coffee shop, gallery and event space that provides a “diverse and exceptional cultural experience to all who step foot through our doors,” according to their website. The large space is bright and warm with plenty of art on the walls, and those looking to put an extra pep in their step this morning will be glad to see that they have both CBD coffee and tea available.
Lunch: Money Muscle BBQ is a food truck that joined the Silver Spring, Maryland, food scene back in September, providing hungry locals with delicious barbecue on-the-go. For DMV Black Restaurant Week, they’ve been offering a very generous 15 percent off all pick up and delivery orders, meaning whether or not you want to get off your couch you can be enjoying smoked wings with a honey sriracha glaze or a Texas brisket sandwich in no time.
Dinner: Head over to Shaw for dinner at HalfSmoke, where they’re offering a three-course meal for only 35 dollars, or a $65 version if you’re in the mood for drink pairings. If you’re feeling extra thirsty this evening, it’s to your advantage, as one dollar from every Tito’s drink sold will be donated to the non-profit One More Plate, a nonprofit organization focused on eliminating hunger in homeless communities throughout the city.
Nightcap: Depending on what time you choose to have dinner, stop by Latin marketplace La Cosecha, where cocktail bar Serenata is pouring happy hour deals from 3 to 7 p.m. The bar is also one of several in the city offering the official cocktail of DMV Black Restaurant Week — a rum and lemongrass single serve pouch cocktail aptly named “the Power of Collaboration.” If you can’t get to Serenata on time, Service Bar on U Street, Cafe Saint-Ex and the Shaw branch of Roy Boys will all be offering the concoction as well.
Sunday, November 15
Breakfast: Anyone who’s tasted Puddin’s shrimp and grits or brown butter bourbon bread pudding will know they serve up some of the best cajun and creole fare in the area. They’re usually found at Eastern Market or Union Market, but a roving food truck also provides the entire area with the comfort food we all need right now. On Sunday they’ll be at the Dupont Circle farmers market, the perfect opportunity to fill your stomach and shop locally for next week’s groceries.
Lunch: Stop by DCity Smokehouse in Truxton Circle for some award-winning brisket that’s smoked for up to 10 hours. The beloved BBQ joint is also known for its “half smokes,” a DC specialty that includes sausage and pulled pork or brisket chili and other fixings inside a bun — perfect for a satisfying midday meal.
Dinner: End your weekend on a high note by taking a mini adventure down to the charming Alexandria, Virginia, for dinner at Hen Quarter. The southern-themed restaurant is big on comfort with starters like fried cornbread and pimento cheese, while large supper plates include dishes like fried chicken and waffles or slow smoked barbecue pork ribs. They’re offering a special for DMV Restaurant week of a three-course meal for only 35 dollars.
Bonus: Get started early on Christmas shopping
Local favorite Calabash Tea & Tonic has teamed up with Blue Fern Travel to create curated boxes that feature local Black businesses and makers. Their Black Box DC features four items by local makers, like a candle, chocolates and more. You can ship them all the way to your cousin in California, but those who utilize local shipping can also add a seasonal bouquet from Lee’s Flower Shop for an additional charge.
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