A jerk chicken wrap at Litehouse Whole Food Grill, where Lauran Smith kicked off her 3rd annual Chicago Black Restaurant Week on Sunday
Chicago Black Restaurant Week returns with some of the best Black-owned food joints across the Chicagoland area. Pig out while you can – it ends Sunday, Feb. 18. Photos by Olivia Obineme

On Sunday, Chicago Black Restaurant Week kicked off its third year of celebrating Black-owned eateries at Litehouse Whole Food Grill; a Hyde Park cornerstone where organic meets jerk salmon fettuccine alfredo bowls, jerk chicken tacos and tofu wraps.

Lauran Smith, a Memphian-turned-Chicagoan, is the mastermind behind Chicago Black Restaurant Week. She created the week because she didn’t see a fair share of Black restaurants represented during Chicago Restaurant Week, a city-backed affair where participating restaurants such as the West Loop’s Blackbird and the Gold Coast’s Margeaux Brasserie offer discounted menus.

“I created it [Chicago Black Restaurant Week] while sitting at a Love Cork Screw cigar and wine event in the summer of 2015,” Smith explains. “[While] seeing emails and Facebook messages about Chicago Restaurant Week, I checked around to see if there was a Black restaurant week and saw that there wasn’t. I decided that this needed to be done.”

Chicago Black Restaurant Week falls on the second week of February every year. This is an intentional move by Smith who simultaneously wants to highlight Carter G. Woodson’s “Negro History Week,” which later grew into Black History Month. There are 26 restaurants, caterers and Black businesses participating in Smith’s celebration this year.

According to Smith, food has always been a staple in Black culture. Family recipes are sacred and, in some families, can be traced back for two or three generations. It’s also a form of comfort – hence the southern-rooted variety, soul food.

“Black people are known for the way we cook. Our food is such a huge portion of who we are, how we were raised [and] where we come from,” Smith says. “Food is always a celebration and Black people are always ready to celebrate with good food.”

Food is so crucial in the Black community, Smith jokes, that it can be the determining factor on whether folks will attend a function: “Will there be food there?” Smith says with a laugh.

Bryan Lamar, a Litehouse investor, helped open the restaurant six years ago with his best friend from college, Eric “Rico” Nance. This is the second year Litehouse is participating in Chicago Black Restaurant Week.

The guys met Smith while studying at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. All three are members of Black greek-letter organizations – Lamar and Nance belonging to Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., and Smith to Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

“Litehouse is about healthy options,” Lamar adds. “Everything is freshly squeezed and grass fed.”

"Dessert Jars" from Love Krave Cake's pop-up shop at Litehouse Whole Food Grill on Sunday

Also at Sunday’s kickoff were Shynikqua and Latoya Rome, two sisters who founded Love Krave Cake, a bakery and catering business based on Chicago’s South Side.The sisters set up a pop-up shop at Sunday’s kickoff, including decadent dessert jars, cakes and cupcakes baked at home by Shynikqua Rome. She’s been baking since she was 12 years old.

“We want people to see us [and] taste our homemade cakes so we can get our storefront this year,” Shynikqua Rome says.

Here are the 26 restaurants participating in Chicago Black Restaurant Week, which ends Sunday, Feb. 18.

Hours: Sun & Mon, CLOSED | Tue-Thu, 3p-7p | Fri, 12p-7p | Sat, 10a-3p

Specials for CBRW: 10% off all Grab N Go’s

Hours: M-F, 8a-7:30p | Sat, 10a-6:30p | Sun, CLOSED

Specials for CBRW: Jerk Chicken Salad $8.18, Turkey Spinach Panini $7.18, Sweet Chicken Hoagy $6.18, Jerk Chicken Pita $7.18

Hours: Cupcakes are available Sunday (Feb. 11) from 10a – 7p, Wednesday (Feb. 14) from 4p – 7p, Friday (Feb. 16) through Sunday (Feb. 18) from 10a – 7p at Lakeview Kitchen & Market. **Times are very specific due to market hours**. For special orders, please send an email to info@intoxicakeschicago.com

Specials for CBRW: 4 Mini cupcakes (2 flavors)-$9.18, 12 Mini cupcakes (2 to 3 flavors)-$23.1812 Hennessy Vanilla mini’s-$23.18, PRE-ORDER ONLY (48hrs in advance)

  • Pizzazzed Plus | pickups can be made at Nadia’s Gourmet Grapes  841 W 103rd (Chicago) 

Specials for CBRW: 1 Dozen Dipped Pretzels-$10, 1 Dozen Chocolate Dipped Strawberries-$20, Chocolate Covered Strawberry Hearts-$15, Sweet ‘N Salty Mix (Pretzels & Strawberries)-$20. For special orders, please send an email to info@pizzazzedplus.com

Hours: M-Sat, 11a-8p | Sun, CLOSED

Specials for CBRW: Chicken Potato $8.18, Veggie Bowl $6.18,  Shrimp Po boy with chips and drink $9.18, Santa Fe Salad w/ Chicken $8.18

Hours: M-Thu, 11a-10p | Fri & Sat 11a-12a | Sun 11a-7p

Specials for CBRW: Mini Pork Tip -$5.18,  Mini Turkey Tip -$5.18, Thom’s Turkey Tip bowl w Dirty Rice-$4.18, 4 Wings (Fried, Jerked or Grilled)- $5.18

Hours: M-Sun, 7a-3p

Specials for CBRW: Peach Bourbon French Toast $6.18, Southern Benedict $9.18, Hangover $12.18

Hours: Sat & Sun, 1p-3a | Mon, 1p-1a | Tues, CLOSED | W-F, 1p-1a

Specials for CBRW: Mini JBL $10.18

  • Love Cork Screw | Various Locations, please visit website lovecorkscrew.com 

Hours: Please visit website for hours of the stores/restaurants that LCS is housed in.

Specials for CBRW: At checkout via the website, use code LOVE4 and get $10 off a quarter when purchasing the Wine Club Membership, plus get a copy of the LCS cookbook – special applies during CBRW ONLY

Hours: Please visit website at www.niassweettreats.net

Specials for CBRW: 10% off one dozen standard size cupcake orders; and cake slices 2/$5. Must ask for the CBRW discount when placing order for discount to apply.

Hours: M-Thu, 9a-8:30p | Fri & Sat, 9a-10p | Sun, 9a-5p

Specials for CBRW: PENDING

Hours: Sun-Thu, 6a-2a | Fri, 6a-4:30p | Sat, 5p-2a

Specials for CBRW: 20% OFF OF EVERYTHING ON THE MENU Feb 11-18th

Hours: Sun-Thur, 10:30a-1:30a | Fri, 10:30a-6:15p | Sat, 6:15p-4a

Specials for CBRW: 20% OFF OF EVERYTHING ON THE MENU Feb 11-18th

Hours: M-W, 9a-3p | Thu, 9a-8p | Fri & Sat, 9a-10p | Sun, CLOSED

Specials for CBRW: Catfish & Grits Sampler $7.18, Shrimp & Grits Sampler $7.18,  Grits Ya Ya Sampler $7.18,  Jambalaya Sampler (Choose from Shrimp $7.18, Chicken $7.18, or Crawfish $7.18)

Hours: Sun-Thu, 11a-10p | Fri & Sat, 11a-MIDNIGHT

Specials for CBRW: Fish or Chicken meal for two – includes fries & coleslaw, plus two beverages $20.18,  Meal of Wings (white, dark or fish), includes fries & coleslaw plus one beverage $7.18

Diamond’s Sports Bar | 1413 W 127th St (Calumet Park)

Hours: M-W, 4p-11p | Thur & Fri, 11a-2a | Sat, 11a-3a | Sun, 11a-11p

Specials for CBRW: Catfish $12,  Tilapia $10,  Jumbo Shrimp $10, 12″ Pizza $10

Hours: Mon, 5p-10p | Tu-Fri, 11:30a-10p | Sat, 10a-10p | Sun, 10a-8p

Specials for CBRW: Fried Catfish $13.18,  Braised Short Rib Mac and Cheese $13.18,  Shrimp and Grits $15.18, Pimento Cheese Burger $11.18

Hours: Mon-Thu, 9a-11p | Fri & Sat, 9a-12a | Sun, 11a-10p

Specials for CBRW: PENDING

Specials for CBRW: Dessert Jars Regular $8.18, Pound Cake Slices $3.18, Jumbo Cupcakes $3.18. FOR ALL INQUIRIES REGARDING SPECIAL ORDERS, PLEASE SEND AN EMAIL TO: lovekravecakes@gmail.com

Specials for CBRW: ENTIRE JUICE SELECTION IS 28% off; starting Feb 11, use code “CBRW18” to receive the discount. FOR ALL INQUIRIES REGARDING ORDERING AND NATIONWIDE SHIPPING, PLEASE CONTACT VIA EMAIL AT: info@juicedbyshic.com

Hours: M-Sat, 8a-4p | Sun, 10a-4p

Specials for CBRW: PENDING

Hours: M-Sat, 11a-11p | Sun, 12p-8p

Specials for CBRW: Small shrimp dinner that includes 14 shrimp coleslaw & fries OR spaghetti (ground beef in spaghetti) for $12.18


Hours: M-F, 8a-7p | Sat, 9a-5p | Sun, 9a-3p

Specials for CBRW: Cold pressed juices: $8.18, Smoothies $2.18 off, Acaì and Pitaya bowls $2.18 off


Hours: M-Sat, 10a-8p

Specials for CBRW: You MUST mention the website to receive the CBRW Discounts, which are as follows:

Turkey Ham Footlong $6, Oven Roasted Chicken Breast Footlong $6, Turkey Salami Foot Longs $6, All Veggie Foot Longs $6


Hours: Mon, CLOSED, Tu-Thu, 3p-9p | Fri, 3p-10p | Sat, 2p-10p | Sun, 12p-6p

Specials for CBRW: BOIL – Half Pound of Shrimp $9.18, Half Pound of Crawfish $5.18, Catfish Nugget Basket $8.18, Tilapia Basket $9.18


  • BR Bar | 18601 S Cicero (Country Club Hills)

Hours:  Sun-Thu, 4p-2a | Fri & Sat, 4p-3a

Specials for CBRW: ANGUS RIB EYE $30.18 – 18 ounce Angus rib eye, hand- cut & char-grilled, served with loaded “baked” potatoes mashed topped w/crispy bacon, grilled asparagus, homemade compound butter & house salad; BAR SALAD W/SALMON  (blackened) $19.18 – Lettuce with our premium salmon, smoked bacon, tomatoes, cheese, cucumbers, & croutons; WING ENTREE $9.18 – 5 whole wings, lemon pepper seasoning & blue cheese or ranch dressing; CHICKEN ALFREDO  $19.18 – Comes with a house salad, Texas toast garlic bread & parmesan; BR CHICKEN NACHO SUPREME $14.18 – Comes with tortilla chips, lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole, sour cream, hot peppers & nacho cheese