It’s been nearly a year since we started social distancing, staying home to make mountains of sourdough, Korean whipped coffees, and focaccia bread art. But for all the at-home deliciousness we’ve mastered, we’re ready for our favorite restaurants! So although travel is still off the table, we’re celebrating with a mouthwatering tour of the stories—and recipes—from some of the best-loved, Black-owned vegan restaurants in America. From soul food in Detroit to Ethiopian eats in Brooklyn to an all-vegan taqueria in Atlanta, get ready, because it’s time to eat.

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Atlanta’s vegan taqueria 
In a city where locals devour buttery peach pies, meaty barbecue, and pimento cheese-stuffed deviled eggs, a burgeoning plant-based scene is steadily brewing. The gone-viral burger chain Slutty Vegan helped put ATL on the map, while plant-based raw spots, Caribbean eateries, and even pizzerias have all been serving the city’s growing number of hungry herbivores. But Atlanta native Chris Hodge felt there was something missing. Weary of the hour-long lines at some of her favorite restaurants, in 2020, she sought inspiration from the Mexican food she loved and opened Chi Chi VeganAtlanta’s first vegan brick-and-mortar taqueria—serving tacos and tending to her own lines that wrap around the building.

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The Chi Chi Vegan menu
Trained and taught by home cooks during her travels in Mexico, Hodge uses simple ingredients to create deftly flavored proteins before enveloping them in warm, locally made tortillas. Craving traditional Mexican eats? Patrons can choose from Al Pastor & Pineapple tacos (made with soy protein, cilantro, onion, pineapple, and guacamole), Baja Fish tacos (crispy fish topped with mango slaw, crema, and sweet chili), or Chimichangas (a stuffed burrito with rice, beans, and fajita vegetables that’s fried and smothered in queso). Want something a little different? The Philly Cheese Steak tacos or the Rasta Bowl—with rice, black beans, plantains, and mango-habanero drizzle—always deliver.

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Why we love Chi Chi Vegan
Most wouldn’t dare to dream of opening a brand-new business during a global pandemic—let alone actually do it. But for Hodge, Chi Chi is just the beginning. The taqueria (which is gearing up for a breakfast menu expansion) is just the first plant-based food and beverage brand under Noir Hospitality, Hodge’s company that she founded eight years ago. Next, she plans to open Sweet Chi Chi bakery—where she’ll sell tantalizing pastries and treats like sweet empanadas, churro waffles, and lemonade floats made with scoops of sorbet and tropical fruit—that will help both grow her plant-based empire and leave its mark on the Atlanta vegan foodscape.

Read the entire Great American Black Vegan Restaurant Tour feature in the newest issue of VegNews on newsstands now! For even more of the stories behind Black-owned vegan restaurants nationwide, follow our Black-owned restaurant web series. Don’t miss our coverage on Seasoned Vegan and Mattie’s Foods

Photo credit: William Quartey (Chi Chi Vegan owner Chris Hodge), Adrian Thomas (Chi Chi Vegan’s shrimp tacos), Tolli Marie (restaurant interior)

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