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 a stoner-inspired burger joint in Wisconsin, get ready, because it’s time to eat.
Detroit Vegan Soul
Southern eats, veganized
Kirsten Ussery never saw herself leaving her high-powered career as a public relations executive. But when her partner Erika Boyd’s father passed away in 2010 from prostate cancer, inspiration struck. She and Boyd adopted a plant-based diet to invest in their own health, and once they began creating healthier versions of the Southern eats they knew and loved, a new calling was found. In 2013, Ussery and Boyd took the leap and brought soul to Detroit, opening a small, 25-seat restaurant to share their stick-to-your-ribs platters of plant food. And it paid off; Detroit Vegan Soul (DVS) became such a Motor City success that they opened a second location in 2017.
The Detroit Vegan Soul menu
DVS has won award after award for its down-home, Southern-style fare (its Soul Platter with mac and cheese will win over any meemaw), but a dose of Asian-inspired flair shakes up the menu in the most delicious way. Tuck into the Almond Tempeh, with thick-cut tempeh smothered in brown mushroom gravy over a bed of fried rice and sesame broccoli. Or maybe indulge in shatteringly crisp spring rolls stuffed with piping-hot, tender smoked collard greens and served with sweet chili sauce.
Building a healthy community
Soul food can do wonders to nourish someone, so why not ramp it up and nourish an entire city? Detroit Vegan Soul is spreading its influence beyond its two locations as a founding member of FoodLab Detroit, a community of food entrepreneurs aiming to make healthy food in the city a sustainable reality. The pact commits to social and environmental policies by partnering with local producers for high-quality, Michigan-made bread, tofu, and tempeh to strengthen and unite the Detroit food economy.
Read the entire Great American Black Vegan Restaurant Tour feature in the Black Vegan Issue of VegNews! 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, Mattie’s Foods, Chi Chi Vegan, Vurger Guyz, Souley Vegan, Ras Plant Based, Spoiled Vegans, Dirty Lettuce, Plum Bistro, The Land of Kush, and Twisted Plants.