Please read about my commitment to being a better ally here. There are countless ways to be an ally to the Black community and a lot of them are done outside of social media. We have to educate ourselves, engage in difficult conversations and be conscious of where we spend our time and money to make sure we support the Black voices that have been oppressed for hundreds of years.
I am using my privilege to support Black-owned food businesses in the Bay Area (and hey, maybe when COVID is over I can expand to other communities) and sharing the delicious foods I encounter right on this blog post. I will be updating the post as often as I can with as many places as I can. Thank you for joining a long in the journey!
SEXTANT COFFEE ROASTERS: San Francisco, CA
Pre-Corona, you could catch me at a local and often, new coffee shop every week where I'd be studying and trying new roasts. I am Ciara and I am a coffee addict. While researching Black-owned businesses, I found Sextant Coffee Roasters on Folsom in San Francisco and couldn't wait to try. Sextant trades directly with Ethiopian coffee bean farms to bring the Bay Area delicious beans to cure our caffeine craving. This neighborhood coffee shop has been around since 2013 and is Black and Brown owned.
I asked the barista, Paolo, what I should get or what the house special was and he made me the most delicious chai. This is on the menu as the Jostel Gandi and was as creamy and silky as can be! I also had a chance to try their iced golden milk latte with a shot of espresso in it.
MIYAKO OLD FASHIONED ICE CREAM: San Francisco, CA
I find it hard to pass up an old fashioned-style ice cream/sweet shop! I'm not even a huge ice cream person but on a hot Bay Area day, only a double scoop of some fun flavors can do the trick. I ordered the Macapuno flavor (a type of coconut native to the Phillipines) and a scoop of Green Tea underneath. My brother had a banana milkshake, equally delicious and refreshing.
Miyako has been running by Tom for twenty-seven years now in the same spot in San Francisco. The signs haven't changed and neither has the charm.
VOO DOO LOVE: San Francisco, CA
A Creole/Cajun pop-up ready to serve up some love - Voo Doo Love was a hit amongst my entire household. I got curbside pick-up from Voo Doo Love on 3rd street in San Francisco, which was so convenient and easy to get to from anywhere in the Bay Area.
I ordered the shrimp fried rice for myself which came full to the brim in a carved out half of a pineapple - so cute and photogenic, honestly! I was almost worried that it wouldn't taste as good because the presentation was too good to be true. It was truly amazing and unlike any other fried rice I'd had before. There were vegetables and loads of shrimp with a lovely pineapple tang in every bite. My brother ordered the make-you-own kind of meal with friend chicken as the protein, macaroni and cheese and kidney beans with rice as the sides. I ate the beans and oh my goodness, they were delicious. The fried chicken was wolfed down by every member of the family and the macaroni was nothing but cheesy goodness.
I cannot wait to go back and try the mahi mahi on black-eyed peas or the oyster Po' boy.
Find Voo Doo Love:
MALIBU'S BURGERS: Oakland, CA
When I get a craving for a burger, I want a BURGER. But I don't eat meat so a lot of the vegetarian burgers I find are all...dainty.
Malibu's Burgers are far from dainty as they are quite simply put, monsters in the best way possible AND 100% plant-based and vegan. Their menu may only have a few options including three styles of burgers (all made with Impossible Meat 2.0) and the sides include fries or tots dressed up to a saucy perfection with their unique Lizard Sauce or Mama's Spread.
Malibu's Burgers is a Black and Latinx owned food truck located...well wherever they please because their delicious burgers are made on wheels. But they are easily found in Oakland. Most vegan food establishments are full of healthy superfoods and anti-inflammatory ingredients (blegh). Malibu's takes pride in being a fast-food vegan truck to satisfy that greasy craving even vegans get.
I ordered the Needy Meaty (Impossible 2.0 Patty, Follow You Heart American Cheese, "Bacon", Lettuce, Tomato, Caramelized onion and Lizard Sauce on Pretzel Bread) and it was INCREDIBLE. I haven't had that good of a burger since being vegetarian. This burger had so much flavor from the sauce, seasonings, the bacon tasted just like bacon which I believe is evidence that magic does exist. Go grab a burger from this magical place on wheels!
Find Malibu's Burgers:
THE COCKTAIL CHICK: East Palo Alto, CA
Cocktails? Yes. Delivered to my door? YES. Nicole Steward-Crooks is the angel delivering specialty cocktails around the Bay Area to keep everyone happy and tipsy all at the same time. After 25 years in the cocktail industry, she knows what she's doing when she uses seasonal fruit to whip up her delicious cocktails and bring them right to you. This is great for when we're dealing with a pandemic but also for parties, BBQs, dealing with a break-up - you name it.
I ordered Nicole's Blackberry Lavender Cocktail made with vodka and Pineapple Waves with tequila. The colors were as vibrant as the buzz they give. But forget the drinks for a moment, because I think it's important to note the kindness radiating from Nicole as we exchanged texts about delivery and drink options and when we met upon delivery. Nicole is working towards owning her own Cocktail Truck to take her business to the next level and if that's not worth supporting then I don't know what is.
Find The Cocktail Chick:
Call or Text: 650.307.9301
I AM Cafe: San Leandro, CA
I am a sucker for a breakfast in general, but a breakfast sandwich or as I AM cafe located in San Leandro, California calls it a Breakfast Sanmich, is the true way to my heart. Through my stomach, of course. I AM cafe is a Black-owned music, art and coffee shop with art on the walls from local artists and a menu of delicious go-to breakfast and lunch items. This Breakfast Sanmich is just egg and cheese cooked perfectly and snuggled inside a fluffy croissant. I don't eat meat or else I would've added the jerk chicken, bacon or links to this creation. On the menu are also things like garlic shrimp and grits and poundcake waffles (and they cater, too!)
LaShawn Raybon is the light behind the business, serving locals their coffee and hanging the art of local artists on the walls. I asked her about what the business means to her and what she wants people to know. Her response brought tears to my eyes.
"If somewhere you can put love wins. And how it's the way we've been sustaining. Loving with service. Sometimes the world can make people feel like love doesn't exist. And we've proven it does in every bite, every hello, ever chuckle...at least I hope"
I strongly recommend this lovely cafe for a bite to eat. Once the pandemic is over and dining in public places is comfortable, I imagine this place is as lively and positive as LaShawn was. Grab a book and an empty stomach and take a look at the art on the walls and music in the air.
Find I AM Cafe:
CLAIRE'S CRUNCH CAKE: San Mateo, CA
I ordered one of Claire's Crunch Cakes over the telephone and had the pleasure of briefly speaking to Claire herself whose warm and inviting tone made me sure that her cakes were going to be as delightful as her. I didn't know much about her cakes, I only knew that she was the woman behind the only Black-owned food business in San Mateo. I have worked in San Mateo for a few years, as it is just the city over from mine, but had never heard of Claire's business of making delicious cakes straight from her kitchen to the people's bellies.
The flavors to choose from were strawberry, lemon, and mocha. I was sold on the Mocha because I love coffee and chocolate. I picked up the 8" cake (6" is also an option) not knowing what to expect and not knowing where the "crunch" in crunch cake was going to come from but once I saw the honeycomb crumbs holding in the moist vanilla cake and mocha filling, I was in LOVE. I enjoyed this sweet treat with friends at a socially distanced front-yard happy hour and in between bites everyone raved about how delicious Claire's creation was. Thank you to Claire and her family for creating such happiness through dessert!
Find Claire's Crunch Cakes :