Dallas’s black heritage is essential to its identity, and the city has many wonderful businesses and organizations that celebrate and educate on black culture in a variety of ways. Renowned artist, curator and activist Vicki Meek has put together a Featured Trip that brings visitors from amazing showcases of talent through visual and performing arts, to powerful historical places, to businesses that support black artists and artisans that will allow us to experience Dallas’s rich heritage and active community.
Serving up delicious Cajun and Creole specialties, the Alligator Cafe in Deep Ellum is a local favorite for some Louisiana comfort food. With all of the classics like gumbo, jambalaya, shrimp po-boys and fried catfish, you will find yourself knee deep in Creole bliss.
Featuring visual artwork and historical documents that are relevant to the African American community (especially that of the Southwestern United States), the African American Museum of Dallas’s collection holds everything from traditional African art to African American fine and folk art, and even has an exhibit about Dallas’s Freedman’s Cemetery.
From its sewing, dance, and drum lessons to its children’s activities, the Pan African Connection & Book Store has been serving its community within the greater Dallas Area. Since its inception over 20 years ago, the Pan African Connection & Book Store has become a huge part of the African American community, and on top of all the cultural and community activities that it offers, it’s also an outpost for African art from all over the continent, and from the art to the books, it’s all here to uplift and educate.
Two Podners serves up incredibly tasty barbecue and seafood along with all of your favorite sides and southern comfort foods. Most Texan bbq joints focus heavily on the smoked meats and particularly on the brisket; but at Two Podners, the star of the show is their amazing catfish (though the brisket is also very delicious). So go ahead and order that tasty catfish with a side of collard greens or candied yams and food heaven awaits you.
You won’t find any Caribbean food in Dallas that even compares to the quality and deliciousness of Elaine’s Jamaican Kitchen. Jerk chicken, curried goat, fried plantains, it’s all there and it’s all spectacularly prepared with traditional spices and flavors. On nice days, the owners will place tables outside so you can enjoy your Caribbean delicacies in the warm sun. In the evenings, they often host live reggae shows and other outdoor concerts.
A must for anyone looking at exploring the murky world of American Civil Rights, the Juanita J. Craft Civil Rights House pays homage to Juanita Craft, a heroine of the Civil Rights Movement. Her efforts of integrating everything from lunch counters to universities hugely advanced the rights of minority groups within Dallas—and even the United States—and her work was so powerful that both Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and President Lyndon Johnson paid her respective visits to discuss the Civil Rights Movement. This house is a museum dedicated to a remarkable woman who fought for the rights of so many and regardless of creed, race, or background, the Juanita J. Craft Civil Rights House highlights a momentously important part of Dallas’s past—and because of that, it’s a very important part of Dallas’s present, too.
If you’re looking at immersing yourself in the Black culture of Dallas, a trip to the South Dallas Cultural Center, which our Local Expert, Vicki Meek manages, is an absolute must. Whether you make it in for a dance lesson or you’re there to see an exhibition at the gallery, the South Dallas Cultural Center provides a multifaceted way to experience Dallas’s Black culture and explore the riches of Dallas’s Black community, as well.
The Arthello Beck Gallery, located in the South Dallas Cultural Center, holds a number of original works by various Black artists from around the Dallas Area—all of whom uphold the legacy of Beck himself, who on top of being one of Dallas’s most beloved artists, also worked to build the local Dallas community and proved instrumental in the careers of many other Black artists, as well.
The Cedars Social serves up modern Americana comfort foods, utilizing traditional dishes like deviled eggs, country ham, braised short ribs and other American favorites and combining them with an upscale twist. Expect food that will both warm your soul and inspire your pallet. Along with their delicious menu, The Cedars Social also offers expertly crafted cocktails, from signature house creations to classics.
The Black Academy of Arts & Letters is dedicated to preserving and showcasing African, African American, and Caribbean performances and writings and present for the benefit of the community. From jazz performances to theatrical productions, everything here comes steeped in a diverse history and is sure to add a wonderful cultural depth to any trip to Dallas.
Swaddled in gardens, Garden Café is just what it sounds like: a breakfast café that’s entirely dedicated to all things fresh and delicious. Here, they use the herbs and produce from their garden in their cuisine, so you know it’ll be fresh and delicious. And when a place uses their own ingredients to make their food, you know they’re serious about putting a lot of themselves in their cuisine—and that certainly shows in the quality.
One of the largest Freedman Cemeteries in the United States, Dallas’s Freedman’s Cemetery is the final resting place for hundreds of Black settlers of Dallas’s Freedman’s town: a town settled after the end of the Civil War.
Located in North Dallas, Lalibela may be a bit out of the way, but this unassuming authentic Ethiopian restaurant is one of the best Ethiopian restaurants in all of Dallas. From the injera (a spongey and tangy flatbread) to the Doro Wot, and of course, their stellar Ethiopian coffee, everything at Lalibela will be a delightfully delicious experience.
First and foremost, Heroes Lounge & Jamaican Grill is an experience unlike any other in all of Dallas. From their amazing DJs to the spoken word poetry to the vivaciously relaxed atmosphere, a trip into Heroes will be a fantastic way to experience the immense diversity in Dallas—and have a bit of a party while you’re at it. Whether you’re in for a poetry reading or you want to dance until the sun comes up, a trip into Heroes will certainly be a welcome addition to anyone looking to experience Dallas’s diversity.
Sometimes, there’s no denying that you just want a simple, no-frills classic breakfast: pancakes as big as your face laden with enough butter and syrup to cover a county, a crisp, buttery pile of hashbrowns, steaming scrambled eggs, and, of course enough bacon to make John Wayne’s eyes widen.
With everything from quality canvaswork to ancient sculptures to the DMA’s renowned silver collection, it’s hard to imagine not finding a few things that you can rest your eyes on for a while. And with artwork from Africa, Asia, Europe, and The Americas, their collection spans as many times and cultures as it does mediums. In fact the DMA has one of the most significant African Art collections in all of North Texas.
Designing Dreams is a unique store owned by Arthur Porter in the South Side on Lamar building just south of downtown. Arthur is a fantastic leather artist who makes custom western wear and bags, amongst many other eclectic and beautiful handmade leather items. However a large part of Arthur’s business is oriented towards teaching under served kids how to make custom leather goods so that they can take those skills and use them to prosper. An advocate for the African American community, Arthur has created Designing Dreams to help others realize their own dreams, functioning as both a retail store and as a place for the people of the community to come together to learn and collaborate. He also offers a wide variety of classes, so if you are interested in learning how to make leather goods, perhaps your trip to Dallas is the perfect opportunity.
Kalachandji’s, named after an Indian deity of the Hindu Temple, is a vegetarian Indian restaurant that serves flavorful and fresh Indian fare. The buffet style restaurant provides delicious cuisine in a gorgeous setting. After grabbing a heaping plate of food, head outside to the outdoor patio and enjoy the serenity of the fresh air and aromas of the flavorful food. Kalachandji’s is also a Hare Krishna temple which adds to the peaceful authenticity of the restaurant.