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Food from home: 5 eateries to explore during Black History Month

February is Black History Month, a fine time to explore some of Charlotte’s Africa-rooted food traditions.

Charlotte today holds a rich array of African-rooted food traditions. February is Black History Month, a fine time to explore. Here are five different tastes that suggest the many strands in Charlotte’s black experience.

House of Prayer Cafeteria

Start close to home with church food at a United House of Prayer for All People. The denomination’s Charlotte history runs back to a summer-long 1926 tent revival by founder Charles Manuel “Daddy” Grace. The UHOP cafeteria near Panthers Stadium offers grilled or fried chicken, country steak in gravy, pinto beans, coconut pie for dessert. No need to be a worshipper nor wait til Sunday. It’s open to everyone seven days a week.

Server Deanna Young at the United House of Prayer cafeteria near Panthers Stadium.

Server Deanna Young at the United House of Prayer cafeteria near Panthers Stadium. (Photo: Tom Hanchett)

United House of Prayer Cafeteria
Monday – Friday 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Saturday – Sunday 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
1019 S. Mint St.
Charlotte, NC 28202
(704) 377 – 1835


Mert’s Heart & Soul

James Bazelle cooks signature dishes of the coastal South from South Carolina to Louisiana. Majority-black historically, the region is known for strong African American influence on cuisine. Order Mert’s red beans and rice, shrimp creole or fried chicken. Don’t miss the collard greens, nor especially the buttery cornbread, some of the best you’ll ever taste.

Shrimp creole with a side of cornbread at Mert’s Heart & Soul.

Shrimp creole with a side of cornbread at Mert’s Heart & Soul. (Photo: Tom Hanchett)

Mert’s Heart & Soul
Monday – Thursday 11 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Friday 11 a.m. – 11:30 p.m.
Saturday 9 a.m. – 11:30 p.m.
Sunday 9 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.
214 N. College St.
Charlotte, NC 28202
(704) 342 – 4222
www.MertsCharlotte.com


Mama’s Caribbean Grill & Bar

Owner Vinroy Reid and his mother Hazelyn Mills back in the kitchen bring authentic flavors from their native Jamaica. Whether you get spicy jerk chicken in rich brown sauce or a milder curry or stew, you’ll see rice and beans on the side. Historians believe that combo originated in Gambia on Africa’s “rice coast.”

Jerk chicken with rice and beans plus cabbage at Mama’s Caribbean.

Jerk chicken with rice and beans plus cabbage at Mama’s Caribbean. (Photo: Tom Hanchett)

Mama’s Caribbean Grill & Bar
Monday – Thursday Noon – 9 p.m.
Friday noon – 11 p.m.
Saturday noon – midnight
Sunday 1 p.m. – 8 p.m.
(704) 375 – 8414
1504 Central Av.
Charlotte, NC 28205
www.mamacaribbeangrill.webs.com


Cooking Pot African Kitchen

Discover cuisine straight from Mother Africa at this handsomely appointed Independence Boulevard spot. Nigerian-born Esther Ikuru cooks up jolof rice, oxtail, fufu, moi moi and more. New to these tastes? Try one of her flavorful stews over coconut rice.

Nigerian-born Esther Ikuru recently opened Cooking Pot African Kitchen on Independence Boulevard.

Nigerian-born Esther Ikuru recently opened Cooking Pot African Kitchen on Independence Boulevard. (Photo: Tom Hanchett)

The Cooking Pot African Kitchen
Monday – Saturday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Sunday noon – 7 p.m.
Independence Shopping Center
5622 East Independence Blvd., suite 129
Charlotte NC 28212
(704) 909 – 4000


Jamile’s International Cuisine

Vast Africa holds so many food cultures. Jamile Sheikh and her family hail from Somalia at the northeast corner of the continent. Mainstay of their menu is suqar (also spelled sukhaar): grilled chicken or beef stewed with onions and Somali spices. Scoop it up with griddle-made bread called canjera (also spelled canjaaro).

Jamile’s International Cuisine features the Somali favorite called chicken suqar.

Jamile’s International Cuisine features the Somali favorite called chicken suqar. (Photo: Tom Hanchett)

Jamile’s International Cuisine
Tuesday – Sunday noon – 8:00 p.m.
4808 G Central Av.
Charlotte, NC 28205
(704) 531 – 1180

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