Coming to Essence Fest? Visit these Black Owned Businesses
Essence Fest is my favorite holiday in New Orleans. If you’ve never been, it’s a must that you add it to your bucket list.
There’s nothing quite like the ocean of black love and beautiful melanated faces that throng the city every year for the 4th of July weekend. The colors, the styles, the eccentricity. In short, it’s lit.
One great thing about Essence is the slew of Black-Owned businesses available to support in New Orleans. Many local artists gripe about how massive the collective blackness is in our city during that weekend but how little of those festival funds actually land in the pockets of the people the Fest is catered to.
I can’t blame them because I’ve seen it too, but to be honest, most people don’t know which businesses to support. Our local hotspots are off the beaten path. If you want an authentic taste of New Orleans culture, all you really need to know is which corners to turn.
We can help you out with that.
When we were grilling out of the trunk of our car during festival season, one of the most common questions we got was “Where do y’all hang out?” Most visitors wanna go where the locals go.
Aside from the festival, here are some amazing businesses you should get into while you’re in New Orleans for Essence Fest weekend.
Take it from a local…
Your Black Owned Business Guide to Essence Fest Weekend
The weekend seems long but in reality it’s a few short days. To get the most bang for your buck and make lasting memories in this great city we’ve compiled a list of the most “authentically” New Orleans establishments that you just can’t miss.
Where the locals go for
The best coffee shop experience
- BlackStar Books & Caffe – 800 Belleville St., Algiers, La – A quick ferry ride from Canal St. in Olde Algiers Pointe you’ll find BlackStar Books & Caffe tucked away in a redesigned historic New Orleans corner house. My brother Baakir will be there to greet you with a boisterous “UHURU, Welcome BLACK home!”
BlackStar has climbed to the ranks of a “place to be” on the underground music scene and you just never know who you’ll run into within the Garvey painted walls. Enjoy a delicious iced coffee and a Soul Salmon sandwich, or feel the heat of the owner’s Algiers Jerk chicken sandwich. You can finish off your meal with a Buttermilk Drop. Sunday nights, you can catch the hottest open mic, with poetry, hip hop and soulful singers gracing the intimate ambiance of the caffe.
The best daiquiri
- Pelican Bay – 1701 Elysian Fields – Me and Hubz don’t even attempt to get daiquiris from anywhere else! We’ve tried every other shop and NOBODY beats the Mardi Gras Mashup or the Mary Jo Juana from Pelican Bay. The restaurant is super spacious and has enough booths to accommodate a crowd. Their daiquiris are a beast but their food is great too. The staff is friendly and on Friday’s you can catch 2 for 1 Happy Hour between 5-8 pm.
The best brunch
- If you missed getting tickets to the New Orleans Natural Hair Expo Brunch, you gotta try brunch at Lenora’s Grill. This sister-owned restaurant is located right on the golf course and has amazing views! The brunch is every Sunday from 10:30 am till 3 pm and touts delicious dishes like Homemade Chicken and Waffles, Bananas Foster French Toast and of course $2 Mimosas. Check her out at 6514 Congress St. and tell her we sent you!
The best culture shop
- Looking to pick up a quick dashiki to finish off your look? Maybe you need some incense to vibe out with. The boho chic shopper can’t miss checking out Jah Ghetto Beginnings II located at 913 N. Claiborne. Not even a hop and skip away from the Essence Fest action, Ras Boo and Empress Trish’s mom & pop shop is a staple in the New Orleans cultured community. They carry a little bit of everything and if you’re in town a day early, check out “Talk About It Thursday” where they open up the shop to community conversations about anything that’s on your mind.
The best food truck
- If you take no other advice from a local, hear this – French Quarter food is for rookies. The best New Orleans cuisine is found outside of the “common” parts. But if you’re staying in the area, try a local food truck. As far as food trucks go, Rollin’ Fatties is the best, hands down! If you’re on the stroll for Essence Fest and looking for quick, delicious food that gives you more bang for your buck – Rollin’ Fatties is it. The chicken fattie is the bomb but my all time favorite is the fish nachos! You can check out their Instagram account for updates on where they’ll be throughout Essence Fest weekend.
Those are a few of my favorite New Orleans hot spots. I visit them all at least once a week so I can totally vouch for the deliciousness and amazing environment of all these places. But, they’re not ALL of the black owned businesses in New Orleans. We’re a city of go-getters so there are black owned options for just about every service you need. From impeccable gel manicures by Nalo at Nola Nail Bar, to Magnolia Makeup’s super pigmented colors and complimentary makeup consults, to intimate items for husbands and wives at Hot Chocolate on Dumaine. Black owned New Orleans has everything you need to make your Essence Fest weekend unforgettable.