After a brutal winter filled with Covid restrictions and sheltering in place, it is finally summertime in Chicago. And if you didn’t know that summertime in Chicago, especially Black-Chicago, is a whole vibe now you know.
Chicago’s Black community has had a significant and lasting impact on the city’s culture. Today Chicago is home to so many amazing Black entrepreneurs and the city wouldn’t be what it is without them. From Hyde Park to Lincoln Park and everywhere in between, you’ll find Black-owned businesses doing amazing things and you should definitely show your support when you visit.
Now is the perfect time to plan a trip to the Windy City if you’ve been thinking about it. Covid numbers are down, lockdown restrictions are up and all my favorite places are open!
I kicked off my Chicago summer by supporting some amazing black businesses. And I’m excited to share all of these spots with you! Whatever you’re looking for these businesses will have you covered. I explored everything from art galleries to coffee shops. Each business listed here offers something unique and fun, perfect for a summer visit to the Chi.
For more Black-owned Chicago-based businesses click here.
For a breezy patio and yummy food: The Delta
If there’s one thing we love in Chicago, it’s restaurants with patio seating. If it comes with amazing food, even better. You get all of that and more at The Delta in Wicker Park. The menu is an ode to southern cuisine, and the mood is always right whenever I stop in.
There’s something for everyone with a taste for southern comfort food, even vegan options. There’s good music, and the space itself is beautiful. I’ve never been less than thrilled with anything I’ve eaten there, and the cocktails are on another level. You’ll be happy you ate here.
For a sweet treat: Brown Sugar Bakery
Yes, Navy Pier is a tourist trap, but it’s fun, so go anyway. You’ll get great photos. You may be able to listen to some live music while you look out over the lake. AND you’ll get to visit Brown Sugar Bakery.
Owner Stephanie Hart recently opened the Navy Pier location and those cupcakes are just as yummy on the lakefront as they are in Chattam. My favorite is the caramel cupcake, but if you decide a slice of German chocolate cake is more your style you’ll be in good company. Vice President Kamala Harris enjoyed her’s!
For the coffee addict: Sip & Savor
Trez V. Pugh opened Sip & Savor to bring high-end coffee to the Southside of Chicago, a traditionally underserved area. There are now three Sip & Savor coffee shops located around the city. My favorite is the Hyde Park location. The atmosphere is great, the food is yummy, and the coffee is delicious.
The location is another awesome space for so many things. You’ll love coming here. It’s the perfect place to get a little work done or meet friends for coffee while enjoying the fairtrade brews.
For the plant lovers: The Plant Salon
There are few things I find more relaxing than being surrounded by lush, vibrant greenery. Which is why you’ll usually catch me walking out of The Plant Salon with my hands full all year long. But this summer, filling my home with greenery and living energy was a MUST, so I’ve stopped by the store frequently.
If you’re in the area and have the urge to become a plant parent, you need to drop by The Plant Salon. They’ll help you with all of your plant questions. There are a range of price options, you can be the proud new owner of a number of plants for as little as five dollars! I loaded up on about $50 worth of plants and was able to turn my shower into a green oasis on a budget.
For the bibliophile: Semicolon
Chicago’s only black woman-owned bookstore also houses an art gallery dedicated to Chicago’s street art scene. Semicolon offers a great book selection it’s also a really great space to just hang out. Pre-pandemic the store’s gallery hosted an artist in residence twice a month. Artists often give talks about their work, and the book store coordinates, offering books in line with the theme of the artists’ exhibit.
Things look a little different at Semicolon right now. As of my last visit the store is still enforcing social distancing guidelines, so it’s less like the chill community space I remember, but the books are still great and the art is still interesting. Semicolon is doing amazing work for the community in Chicago. Last year owner DL Mullen started the #CleartheShelves initiative to promote literacy amongst CPS students. Semicolon continues to provide CPS with donated books, backpacks, and more. If you can’t come to shop in person check out the store’s website, they ship nationwide.
For a BYOB Brunch: Batter & Berries
Two words: french toast. There’s a reason Batter & Berries has been one of the most talked-about brunch spots in Chicago for years. The menu is creative, and Sunday brunch is always fun (side note: the waitlist in the Lincoln Park location fills up pretty quickly on Saturdays and Sundays. Be sure to grab your spot on the list early if you don’t want to wait hours for a table). The menu is frequently updated and changed, but for your first visit, you can’t go wrong with the flight of french toast. If you want to be a little more adventurous give the lobster omellete a try, I had it on my last visit and it was heavenly.
Since its opening in 2012 Batter & Berries has seen a lot of growth, and an expansion into the suburbs. Husband and wife team Craig and Dr. Tanya Richardson’s have opened many doors for Black-owned restaurants on the city’s northside, which had been difficult for Black restauranteurs to break into. It is one of the best restaurants in Chicago. It’s been raved about for a long time, it’s a must-visit for anyone looking for an awesome brunch experience.
A visit to Chicago is on so many bucket lists, and the spots I mentioned here are some of the most loved in the city. Supporting these businesses are key to supporting what makes Chicago the vibrant city it is. Don’t pass up the chance to see these on your visit to the city.
For more Black, Latinx, Indeginous, and Asian-Owned businesses visit the Blistey Directory.