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Ken's Hardwood Barbecue (Photo by Jackie Tran)

15+ Black-Owned Restaurants, Bars & Makers in Tucson

Updated March 4, 2024

From soulful eateries serving up traditional favorites to innovative chefs crafting unique flavors, these establishments are not just places to eat but vibrant hubs of culture and community. Here are just a few of our favorite black-owned restaurants and businesses in Tucson, each telling a story of passion and creativity.

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African grilled tilapia at Alafia West African Cuisine (Credit: Taylor Noel Photography)

Alafia West African Cuisine

Alafia serves the authentic, unadulterated cuisine of Benin. You won’t find any dainty garnishes here; just wholesome, well-spiced food. Try a glass of the potent ginger juice.

Cafe Desta (Photo credit: Jackie Tran)

Cafe Desta

Foodie Favorite:
Sam Jump

“There’s something empowering about dining at Cafe Desta. I don’t know if it’s the encouragement to eat with my hands or the nourishing qualities of the food, but I just can’t get enough.” 

Just south of downtown, Cafe Desta serves Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine. While they also offer meat, they are one of our favorite places to eat vegan.

(Photo courtesy of Chez Peachy on Instagram)

Chez Peachy

Foodie Favorite:
a woman sitting at a table with food
Hannah Hernandez

“Chez Peachy’s cakes are consistently whimsical and beautifully crafted. I appreciate her readiness to make vegan cakes upon request!”

The local bento cake shop created by Christa Lebron is all-things tasty, bright, and creative. You can catch up with the local bakery as a pop-up at markets or if there’s something specific you’re looking for, send Chez Peachy a direct message on Instagram (which is also where you can keep up with the latest).

a plate of food on a table
Oxtail Stew at D's Island Grill JA (Credit: Taylor Noel Photography)

D’s Island Grill JA

Hidden among apartment complexes inside of a drab shopping center awaits D’s Island Grill JA (JA for Jamaica), a secret island getaway. The menu features a hodgepodge of chicken, shrimp, pork, and fish prepared as curries, sandwiches, and more. Duwayne’s entrées are all gluten-free and include rice and peas and a choice of crunchy vinegar-based coleslaw or steamed vegetables.


Facade at HUSH Social Club (Credit: Jackie Tran)

HUSH Social Club

Foodie Favorite:
Addie Ibarra

“Don’t be fooled by the seemingly lackluster facade — the nondescript entrance is meant to throw off the scent. The lounge is cozy!”

HUSH isn’t a typical speakeasy lounge, however — it has a minimal drink menu. Guests can sit at the bar top, scarlet red couches, or chic booths. R&B music plays in the background.

(Photo courtesy of Janet & Ray's)

Janet & Ray’s

Foodie Favorite:
a man wearing a hat

“My favorite Jerk Chicken in Tucson!”

Daily dishes include Jerk Chicken, Fried Catfish, and Fried Chicken but the restaurant is also serving daily specials every week. Therefore, there’s always something new to try at Janet & Ray’s! For instance, if you show up on Fridays, there’s a chance they’ll have Lobster Mac n’ Cheese or Whole Snapper on the menu.

Photo Courtesy of Ken's Hardwood Barbecue

Ken’s Hardwood Barbecue

Ken’s Hardwood Barbecue brought some serious southern cooking traditions to town with the Sadler family, who started with a soul food spot in Dixon, Tennessee. Four generations and a Tucson food truck later, the family still draws on its southern roots at its casual brick-and-mortar dining room but Texas hot links and St. Louis ribs are part of the smoked meat repertoire. Catfish is also a regular menu item, and don’t even get us started on their sweet potato pie and peach cobbler.

Kingston Kitchen (Photo courtesy of Tucson Meet Yourself 2023)

Kingston Kitchen

Formerly CeeDee’s Jamaican Kitchen, you’re instantly surrounded by the smells of traditional island spices when you step inside. Jerk chicken, oxtail, fry bread, goat, and many more classic Jamaican meals are what you’ll find on their menu.

Various barbecue meats at Mr. K's Original BBQ (Photo credit: Brielle Farmer)

Mr. K’s Original BBQ

This South Park Avenue spot is a long-time Tucson barbecue staple — owner Ray Kendrick has been delighting patrons with his no-frills approach to barbecue since 1997. Popular items on the small menu include beef ribs, along with the more typical pork. Our favorites include the hot links and brisket, but go for the Three Meat Combo and you can decide for yourself.

food on a table
Off The Hook Seafood (Photo courtesy of Tucson Meet Yourself 2023)

Off The Hook Seafood

Off the Hook’s fried fish is some of the best seafood in Tucson. They’re a food truck so they don’t have a physical address but you can keep up with where they’re parked by following them on Facebook. Warning: You’ll likely be “hooked” after you try chef Matt Kearney’s cuisine.

a plate of food on a table
Photo courtesy of On The Fly Kitchen & Prep & Pastry on Instagram

On The Fly Kitchen

If you are planning a party and Southern food is on the menu, look no further, this is the spot for you. You can also find them doing pop-up dinner events all over Tucson like at Prep & Pastry. So, they don’t have a phsyical address in Tucson but to keep up with where they’re popping up, follow them on Instagram.


(Photo Courtesy of Queen Sheba Restaurant & Market)

Queen Sheba Restaurant & Market

Back in 2018, Eritrea native Welday Gezehen opened Queen Sheba Eritrean Restaurant, sharing the cuisine of his homeland. Then in 2021, they announced the closing of its 5553 E. Grant Rd. location (where Amelia’s Mexican Kitchen currently operates) and relocated to 6470 E. 22nd. St. Gezehan and his family left the northeast African country Eritrea as refugees in 2006 and lived in the neighboring country Ethiopia for three years before moving to the U.S.


a bowl of food on a table
Spinach Dip at The Red Light Lounge (Photo by Isaac Stockton)

The Red Light Lounge at the Downtown Clifton

Walking into The Red Light Lounge at the Downtown Clifton Hotel is similar to entering a cozy room lit only by wicked firelight — where one isn’t too sure if this is a bar or a bistro. You’ll be happy to discover that it is indeed both. It’s angular, it’s dark, it welcomes whispers and singing alike and, best of all, the food is exquisite and the drinks are definitely on your side.


BBQ Plate from Smokey Mo (Photo credit: Dana Sullivan)

Smokey Mo

This no-frills spot on First Avenue produces some of the best barbecue in town. Takeaway is a good choice when it’s too hot to sit out on the back patio or in the small dining area near the kitchen, but if you want to keep inhaling those great meat aromas, you might want to stick around. The friendly chef/owner, who describes his barbecue as Kansas City style, is almost always on-site to greet customers if he’s not tending the grill.  Along with such standards as brisket and pork ribs, the pastrami and burgers are standouts.

(Photo courtesy of Sydney's Sweet Shoppe)

Sydney’s Sweet Shoppe

Local baker, Sydney Adams’ inspiration and love for baking derives from her grandmother and the recipes nestled inside of a cookbook, which carries recipes dating back to the 1940s. Seeing the joy that her grandmother received from baking is something she shares, too.

(Photo courtesy of Ube Bae Desserts on Instagram)

Ube Bae Desserts

FIlipino-American veteran and home-based baker, Brittany Gudino, combines her cultural background with ube-flavored cookies. See where you can purchase her treats by giving Ube Bae a follow on social media.

a sandwich filled with meat and vegetables
Urban Fresh (Photo credit: Hannah Hernandez)

Urban Fresh

Urban Fresh is known as a “Vegucational Experience” due to its fresh, natural ingredients and health and wellness education. This plant-based restaurant offers quick and easy lunch options such as smoothies, hearty salads, and daily specials. With its intimate café feel and sidewalk patio, Urban Fresh offers a unique and healthy downtown dining experience.

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