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beza vegan restaurant
Photograph: Beza Vegan

Chef James Cochran shares his favourite Black-owned restaurants in London

From Nigerian tapas to wood-smoked meat, 12:51’s James Cochran picks his favourite places to eat

By Time Out London contributor
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1. Kate’s Café

Tucked away in Plaistow, this simple spot is worth travelling to – and not just for its extensive list of tasty gin cocktails. The real draw? The British and Ghanaian fusion menu here is a mega who’s who of every African comfort carb: plantain, yam, rice, fufu – you name it.
174 Balaam St, E13 8RD.

2. Island Social Club

Island social club restaurant
Photograph: Island Social Club

Marie Mitchell and Joseph Pilgrim have created an inclusive space with Island Social Club. The duo run food projects around the city – from storytelling supper clubs to their bright and airy Haggerston pop-up – all with the aim of helping people connect to British Caribbean culture. And they serve up some great rotis too.
Various venues. See www.islandsocialclub.com for details.

3. Alhaji Suya

This Nigerian spot specialising in suya (grilled seasoned meat) makes a welcome change from the copy-and-paste chains you’re more likely to see in Greenwich. Its menu is small but succinct: you can choose between beef, chicken or ram suya – boneless or on the bone. You can also get kilishi here – a version of jerky that originated in Hausaland – if you’re looking for even more protein gains.
Unit 15, Angerstein Business Park, SE10 0RT.

4. The Tramshed Project

tramshed project
Photograph: The Tramshed Project

I met Dominic Cools-Lartigue around a year ago. He’s a pioneer of the street-food scene – he was the original founder of Street Feast – and he’s also an avid supporter of Black Lives Matter. That’s why I teamed up with him on this project. Tramshed is a socially distanced dining room in a massive gallery space. I’m doing some of the food and so is Zoe Adjonyoh (Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen) and a few others. Expect lots of fried chicken from me – plus co-working spaces and a bar as well.
32 Rivington St, EC2A 3LX.

5. Michael’s BBQ Kitchen

michael's bbq kitchen
Photograph: Michael's BBQ Kitchen

This Brixton restaurant is quite new on the scene but it’s doing awesome things. Chef-owner Michael cooks traditional smoked meats. Everything is smoked with natural wood (the proper way). He does my favourite smoked pork belly pieces in the city and some great jerk chicken too. Not into smoky stuff? The fried chicken is really banging too – but not quite as good as mine, ha!
292 Brixton Rd, SW9 6AG.

6. The Bash

There are no fancy Instagram flower walls enticing people in at Tottenham’s The Bash. In fact, unless you’ve been taken here by someone before, it’s unlikely that this unassuming gem would be on your radar – but it should be. It does really simple African and Congolese cooking that’s incredibly high quality. Its grilled fish and meat options are so tasty and the value is off the charts. I love that its customer base is powered by word of mouth: it really says a lot about the standard of its cooking.
71-73 West Green Rd, N15 5DA.

7. Smoke & Salt

smoke and salt
Photograph: Smoke & Salt

I first went to Remi and Aaron’s spot when they were in Pop Brixton and was blown away by what they were producing from a tiny kitchen. Now they’re in Tooting, for those lucky enough to live nearby. They offer an ever-changing menu of beautiful small plates created using traditional methods such as smoking, curing and preserving. But what I love most about them is that they try to make their food reflect the diversity of south London and the UK.
115 Tooting High St, SW17 0SY.

8. Beza Ethiopian Food

This Ethiopian joint does vegan food, sure, but not that you’d notice meat missing! Its vast sharing platters are made up of all kinds of vegetable and pulse stews – lentil, spinach, chickpea – that are served nestled into a giant injera. Really flavourful and addictive stuff. You leave feeling stuffed. It has an outdoor space, which is good news at the moment.
8A Sayer St, SE17 1FH.

9. Chuku’s

chuku's restaurant
Photograph: Rebecca Dickson

I’ve not been here yet, but I’m dying to go. The founders, Emeka and Ifeyinwa, are siblings and they combine the Nigerian flavours they ate as kids with tastes they found while living in Spain and Martinique. It’s great to see a brother-and-sister team doing what they love: capturing the spirit of their childhood eats and culture, and serving it up with flair. Would you expect anything less from Nigerians?
274 High Rd, N15 4AJ.

10. Kaieteur Kitchen

Now in Enfield, this street-food truck was one of the best in Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre (RIP). Run by chef Faye Gomes since 2003, it focuses on Guyanese food. The influence of India in the cooking here is great and pronounced: the rotis are something else, there’s amazing grilled chicken and an ace playlist.
750 Hertford Rd, EN3 6PR.

James Cochran is one of the contributors to ‘Community Comfort’, a cookbook featuring more than 100 recipes from Black, Asian and minority ethnic chefs, raising funds for BAME Covid victims. Find out more here.

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