Three amazing Black-owned restaurants that are a must-try

A photo of a plated dish from Yaya's Kitchen CREDIT: YAYASKITCHEN.CA
Visit Asmara Coffee House, Yaya’s Kitchen, and Casa Manioca for a taste of something new and something special.

London, Ont. is home to a wealth of varied cultures and with different cultures comes different incredible, authentic food. As we enter Black History Month, let’s look at a few Black-owned restaurants that should be on your radar.

February is a cold, bleak month. The bitter winds and grey skies chip away at the final vestiges of your strength, but there is a reprieve.

Asmara Coffee House

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The intoxicating smells of fresh roasted coffee with hints of mild citrus waft down York St.

Here, coffee isn’t just a pick-me- up, it is an art and a memory of home. Asmara Coffee House uses traditional roasting and brewing techniques from the African Country, Eritrea, which they do in house. Try any of their three fantastic blends, some light sandwiches, or my favourite: The Asmarino, a heavily caffeinated blend of coffee and espresso, resulting in utter perfection. Just don’t forget to ask for a sprinkle of ginger.

Yaya’s Kitchen

Need something more substantial? Tucked away just east of downtown on Dundas St. is a strange, tall building made of pale-yellow brick. Inside that building is a mishmash of odd shops from one that sells metal trinkets, to a great café, and rotating co-op bakery, but hidden in the very back lies something special.

Yaya’s Kitchen is a glimpse of the refined taste of the many flavours of the Sahel region in Africa. At Yaya’s elegant flavours and beautiful presentation meet in each and every dish. Rich, savoury cuts of meat are covered in an intricate blend of delicate spices and complimented by crisp fresh produce to create dishes so perfectly balanced that you will find yourself savouring the last bite.

Be sure to try their famous beef suya, a skewer of seasoned aged beef accompanied by a fresh vegetable medley slaw, and zobo, a refreshing spiced hibiscus drink. Don’t forget to complete your visit with a taste of their mandazi, African beignets dusted with zobo and baobab icing sugar.

Casa Manioca

Sometimes, you don’t have time for a full meal, but need more than a coffee to tide you over until lunch. Meet Casa Manioca, a Brazilian restaurant that specializes in snacks with so much flavour that you may find yourself abandoning traditional North American treats for good.

Casa Manioca has perfected the art of wrapping mouth-watering fillings in crispy dough and they do it in a few different ways. Firstly, the humble empanada. Spiced meats fill a delightfully crispy shell the shape of a crescent moon. It is similar to a savoury meat pie, but don’t be confused, there is a difference because they have those too.

If you want something more indulgent, they have fluffy cheese bread and cheese waffles, which would surely make the best chicken and waffles imaginable, but neither is their signature dish.

Casa Manioca specializes in coxinha, also known as Brazilian Croquettes. They are shaped like little crispy, golden pyramids, with their own intoxicating treasure of shredded meat, veggies and spices waiting inside. Cut them in half or embrace your true desires and take a bite but be warned that coxinha filling is somehow hotter than magma. Regardless, the burns on your tongue are a small sacrifice in the face of true culinary bliss.