Essence Festival New Orleans

March 7, 2022

Black Woman-Owned Restaurants to Dine at During Essence Festival Weekend New Orleans

Janet Jackson performing live
© J Vettorino, Creative Commons

Essence Festival New Orleans is back!

Essence Festival New Orleans initially started as a one-time event in 1999 to celebrate Essence Magazine’s 25th anniversary, luckily for everyone, it turned into an annual event. Essence magazine covers beauty, fashion, entertainment, and culture and is geared towards Black women, resulting in a festival celebrating Black culture in the United States. Essence Festival New Orleans is often labeled as a festival with a purpose. This year’s lineup includes big names such as Janet Jackson and Nicki Minaj, usually considered bucket list live shows.

Essence Festival New Orleans 2022 is a must-go-to. While you’re here, support Black women by frequenting Black woman-owned businesses.

Compere Lapin

Compere Lapin’s Nina Compton has it all as a chef and restaurant owner. She is a James Beard award winner, Top Chef season 11’s runner up contestant as well as the fan-favorite (voted by viewers), Food & Wine magazine’s 2017 best new chef, and her native St. Lucia’s culinary ambassador.

Described by restaurant guests as pure genius, Nina Compton’s Compere Lapin is described as one of the best dining experiences in New Orleans. Compere Lapin manages to provide an upscale dining experience without the pretentious vibes that follow these kinds of establishments.

Nina Compton’s Caribbean roots and formal training in French tradition at the Culinary Institute of America make for Compere Lapin’s Caribbean twist on French cuisine. Try out the curried goat and sweet potato or the red snapper. Reservations recommended. 535 Tchoupitoulas St, New Orleans, LA 70130

Vyoone

Vyoone Segue Lewis’s book of family recipes and knack for success resulted in her namesake restaurant, Vyoone’s. Vyoone Segue Lewis’s family is deep-rooted in New Orleans tradition, with four generations of Afro-Creole and French ancestors in New Orleans; so, the food is as authentic as it gets. Her dedication to bringing her visions to reality resulted in a laundry list of achievements: Dr. Lewis is a pediatric geneticist from Tulane University who was involved with the Human Genome Project, a formally NOCCA trained classical musician with expertise in clarinet and contrabass, a published science scholar, and a YWCA award winner due to her dedication to empowering women in Louisiana.

Vyoone’s, the downtown hidden gem, provides a unique experience for all, it’s perfect for both large parties and date night. As you enter, you’ll find yourself in a long golden hallway with lights, leading to a courtyard setting with indoor dining available as well. Vyoone Segue Lewis is usually present to greet you with guests raving about her presence being an important asset in the five-star dining experience, which is reminiscent of a true Parisian bistro. Try out their escargot, which has an excellent cream sauce. 412 Girod St, New Orleans, LA 70130

Bennachin

When Gambian businesswoman Fanta Tambajang came to New Orleans, she brought authentic Gambian cuisine along with her. Bennachin originally opened in Metairie before moving to the French Quarter as the restaurant became more established. It is now a household name due to the variety of West African cuisine available, accommodating those with all dietary restrictions without skimping on flavor. Try out their black-eyed fritters, plantains, lamb with gravy, or egusi soup. And of course, their namesake dish, the bennachin, which is jollof rice with spinach (and the option to add meat), locals describe it as a spicier jambalaya. 1212 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70116

Ma Momma’s House

After working in corporate America as a banker for two decades, Nicole Mackie took a step back for her wellbeing (self-care is important!) and partnered with her sister, Rene “Chef Reero” Poyraz who has over twenty years of restaurant experience as well as being a Take Fo’ recording artist, and husband, Earl, to open Ma Momma’s House.

The three divided and conquered with their skillsets to operate the restaurant that brought chicken and waffles to New Orleans, as well as a commitment to bring business to the New Orleans East area, an area that suffered a great loss from Hurricane Katrina, by having New Orleans East as one of their locations. Afterward, they opened another New Orleans location at Pythian Market.

Try their chicken and waffles or their red beans; after all, they were the 2018 Red Beans Madness champions. Pythian Market: 234 Loyola Ave, New Orleans, LA 70112. New Orleans East: 5741 Crowder Blvd. Suite A-3, New Orleans, LA 70127

14 Parishes

Owned and operated by Lauren Blake and her husband, 14 Parishes serves Jamaican classics in a casual setting that is adorned in colorful artwork with tables made of reclaimed wood that contribute to their rustic vibes. Named after the 14 parishes of Jamaica, this spot is authentic due to Lauren Blake’s husband Charles Blake’s Jamaican roots, with him being born in Spanish Town, Jamaica. Make sure you try out their juices while you’re there. Pythian Market: 234 Loyola Ave, New Orleans, LA 70112. Oak Street: 8227 Oak Street, New Orleans, LA 70118

Coco Hut

Owned by Pam Thompson, this Seventh Ward spot has served the people of New Orleans with authentic Caribbean food since 2000. Coco Hut’s cozy environment goes hand in hand with its colorful décor. Their jerk salmon dish is a must-have, as well as their salads which come with their flavorful homemade dressings. 2515 Bayou Rd, New Orleans, LA 70119

Lil Dizzy’s

This Baquet family restaurant, Lil Dizzy’s, owned by Arkesha Baquet and her husband, serves Creole fare “hot and straight from the pot” in Treme, one of the oldest Black neighborhoods in the United States. Try their famous golden fried chicken or the gumbo. Their side dishes, the real champions of southern fare, are great, as are the portions. 1500 Esplanade Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70116

Sweet Soul Food

Chetwan Smith’s vegan restaurant serves up plant-based and soy-free soul food infused with Cajun flavor. Sweet Soul Food provides affordable and healthy cuisine, without skimping on flavor, in a lively cafeteria setting. Those with a sweet tooth are in luck, Sweet Soul Food doesn’t skimp on sweets either, with many rave reviews. Try out their jambalaya, “cheesy” grits, or potato salad. 1025 N Broad Street, New Orleans, LA 70119

We hope you enjoy Essence Festival New Orleans

Looking for a place to stay during Essence Fest New Orleans? See our hotel recommendations here.