If you live in New York City, the only problem when it comes to going out to eat is deciding where to go. And if you’re going out with your partner or organizing a brunch with the ladies, forget about it.
We tend to make our decisions on what kind of cuisine we’re feeling, but we’re proposing a different idea- who’s running the kitchen. Supporting women of color in the restaurant industry not only means eating delicious food and supporting badass women, but it also helps create space for future generations. Our buying power as consumers is a lot more valuable than we realize, so before you head to your go-to spot or hit “order” for the millionth time on Seamless (no shade, we do it too), check out these restaurants and cafes with women of color in charge.
Vinatería – Yvette Leeper Bueno
Vinatería is all about the good vibes. Owner and native New Yorker Yvette Leeper-Bueno want you to feel like you’re at home when you’re there, chilling out over Spanish and Italian dishes while enjoying a glass of wine. This isn’t the first business venture for Leeper-Bueno either, who also owned Leeper Kids, a kids clothing line. In 2015 the Financial Times names Vinatería as one of the best five Italian restaurants in New York City, and the NY Times featured the Harlem spot for its unique decor. Go for a glass of wine, stay for the food and atmosphere. And more wine, of course.
Mokbar – Esther Choi
Esther Choi opened Mokbar with the intention of sharing her Korean heritage with New Yorkers and making everyone fall in love with the flavors used in Korean cooking. She’s definitely working towards that goal with flying colors, recently opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Brooklyn. Bacon and eggs ramen for brunch? Yes please! Choi is often included on lists for top female chefs to know in NYC, and hosts a YouTube show for Eater.
When Nicole Ponseca moved to New York City to pursue a career in advertising, she noticed that there wasn’t a place serving authentic Filipino food. So she started working at restaurants in the evenings after her advertising job, putting in mad hours to learn about running a restaurant. She opened her first restaurant Maharlika in the East Village in 2011 with chef Miguel Trinidad, and then Jeepney a year later. These two Filipino eateries pay homage to cuisine influenced by tropical beauty and Asian and Spanish flavors. In October 2018, Ponseca and Trinidad released their first cookbook; I Am A Filipino, And This Is How We Cook, which was nominated for a James Beard Award in 2019.
Besides serving amazing, award-winning food, Daniela Soto-Innes serves up something else in her kitchens: respect. The Mexican chef is known for her personal wellness routines and how she treats her staff. She takes time to mentor her kitchen staff, listen to them, learn about their lives, and in an interview with Bon Appetit, said nights might end with blasting “I Want To Break Free” by Queen. Plus, she’s redefining how we think about Mexican food in America with fresh flavors and unique twists. You need to make your reservations now!
Tanoreen – Rawia Bishara
One of the things you’ll find that the restaurants on our list have in common is that the chefs and owners found inspiration from women in their lives. Which is right for Rawia Bishara, who describes her mother as having been “the most wonderful cook.” Her restaurant Tanoreen in Bay Ridge serves up Palestinian and Middle Eastern dishes that taste like home cooking influenced by time abroad and in New York. You’ll find recognizable dishes like falafel and tabbouleh amongst shawarma sliders and a Middle Eastern-style shepherd’s pie. This one’s for you, Bay Ridge babes!
Sol Sips – Francesca Chaney
If you’ve ever thought “vegan food isn’t for me,” you need to make your way to Sol Sips in Bushwick. Francesca Chaney grew up eating a plant-based diet and wanted to share that with her customers. Sol Sips is all about vegan food is accessible for everyone, no matter what community or economic background origins. It’s affordable, and on the weekend’s brunch is a sliding scale, meaning you can pay from $7-$15 to get your brunch on. The food isn’t masquerading as “healthier alternative, better lifestyle,” either. It’s traditional American, it’s comforting, and it happens to be vegan. People are taking note of Francesca Chaney and the hard work she’s been doing as a 23-year old restaurateur; Eater just named her one of 2019’s Young Guns.
New York is a diverse in culinary as it is in the people. So take a step away from your usual Sunday spot and support these amazing women.