These black-owned independent bookstores offer a wide range of authors and literary genres, as well as provide an essential gathering spot for the local black community.
Eso Won Books: Located in the heart of Leimert Park Village, Eso Won Books is perhaps the most well-known black-owned bookstore in Los Angeles. Meaning “water over rocks,” Eso Won “provides fluid, safe, stirring opportunities that flow to a reservoir of knowledge for all people to experience.” In addition to its extensive book selection, Eso Won hosts author events that have previously featured Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, Maya Angelou, Misty Copeland, Spike Lee, Toni Morrison and Walter Mosley among many others.
Along with Eso Won, DoLA features these black-owned bookstores in their guide:
These vital black-owned coffee shops serve up much more than your daily caffeine fix.
Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen: Founded by LA natives Ajay Relan and Yonnie Hagos, Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen recently announced a partnership with actress, producer, and entrepreneur Issa Rae (Insecure). Hilltop's flagship location in Downtown Inglewood occupies the 3,500 square-foot space that previously housed Sweetie Pies, across from the iconic KJLH 102.3 FM radio station owned by Stevie Wonder.
Bloom & Plume: Neighboring their adjacent floral shop in Historic Filipinotown, Bloom & Plume Coffee is like stepping into a vibrant bouquet where the aroma is filled with fresh juice, salads, espresso, and good vibes. Brothers Moses and Maurice Harris, longtime HiFi residents, created a shop they envisioned as a comforting, eclectic place to hang out, sip lattes, and nosh on scrumptious waffles. Maurice stars in his show, Centerpiece, now on Quibi.
- Harun Coffee (Leimert Park)
- Hot and Cool Cafe (Leimert Park)
- Little Amsterdam Coffee Shop (Mid-City)
- Nimbus Coffee (DTLA)
- Obet & Del's (Thai Town)
- Patria Coffee (Compton)
- Silverback Coffee of Rwanda (Boyle Heights)
- Sip & Sonder (Inglewood)
- South LA Cafe (South LA)
- Undergrind (Beverlywood)
- VanillaBlack (Echo Park)
- Watts Coffee House (Watts)
From history to art and music, explore the full spectrum of the African American experience at these LA cultural institutions.
African American Firefighter Museum: The city's first segregated fire station, Fire Station No. 30 was built in 1913 and reopened in 1997 as the home of the African American Firefighter Museum. The two-story museum includes original poles and a vintage hose cart from 1890, as well as photos and news clippings, helmets, badges, vintage uniforms and more.
Band of Vices: One of the leading contemporary art spaces in the burgeoning West Adams Arts District of Los Angeles, Band of Vices was founded in 2015 by veteran actor and art curator Terrell Tilford.
CAAM: Located at Exposition Park in Downtown LA, the California African American Museum (CAAM) exists to research, collect, preserve and interpret the history, art and culture of African Americans. The museum's permanent collection houses 4,000 objects that span landscape painting and portraiture, modern and contemporary art, historical objects and print materials, and mixed-media artworks.
Charles Mingus Youth Arts Center: Part of the world famous Watts Towers Campus and named after jazz great Charles Mingus, the youth center gives children a safe and creative atmosphere for individual expression with guidance and direction from professional artists.
Dubbed the “Black Greenwich Village” by the late filmmaker John Singleton, the historic neighborhood of Leimert Park is widely regarded as the cultural hub for African Americans in LA.
- Art + Practice: Founded by artist Mark Bradford, philanthropist and collector Eileen Harris Norton, and community activist Allan DiCastro, Art + Practice (A+P) is a nonprofit foundation based in Leimert Park Village. A+P supports the needs of South L.A. foster youth and provides the community with access to museum-curated contemporary art.
- KAOS Network: Ben Caldwell founded the acclaimed community media lab, KAOS Network in 1990. Since then the institution has garnered a worldwide reputation with its signature program, Project Blowed. Co-founded in 1994 by Aceyalone and Abstract Rude, Project Blowed is renowned as the longest running open mic youth workshop in the world.
- The World Stage: Founded in 1989 by the late legendary jazz drummer, Billy Higgins and poet and community arts activist, Kamau Daáood, The World Stage is affectionately known locally as simply "The Stage."
Museum of African American Art: Hidden inside the Macy's at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, the Museum of African American Art was founded in 1976 by artist and art historian Dr. Samella Lewis and a group of community leaders. Over the years, the museum has amassed a significant permanent collection of art while also hosting temporary exhibitions.
Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum: Located in South Los Angeles, Tomorrow's Aeronautical Museum (TAM) is a living classroom that brings aviation history to life and empowers the dreams of underprivileged youth to literally take flight. TAM features interactive exhibits that explore racial diversity in the evolution of modern flight, as well as a Sky Lab computer center, Tuskegee Airmen Learning Center, and operating and static display aircraft.
The Underground Museum: Opened in 2012, The Underground Museum is the realization of the dream of the late artist Noah Davis to bring world-class art to Arlington Heights. Davis was a rising star in the art world who established a relationship with MOCA to exhibit works from the permanent collection. Although The Underground Museum focuses on contemporary African American art, a message at the museum's entrance notes, "This is a black space, but all are welcome."
FASHION & LIFESTYLE
It's a win-win when you support black-owned businesses that offer some of LA's best fashion and lifestyle collections.
45 Three Modern Vintage Home: Located in the Little Ethiopia district just south of Olympic Boulevard, 45 Three Modern Vintage Home is renowned for owner Staci Cain's collection of mid-century modern furniture, art and accessories.
The Barbershop Club: Dubbed "the most diverse barbershop west of the Mississippi," The Barbershop Club is a one-stop resource for actionable advice that covers every aspect of a man’s life: character, career, relationships, therapy, fitness, style, skills, and much more.
BENJAMIN Salon: Founded in 2012 by Benjamin Mohapi, BENJAMIN reinforces an understated and inclusive approach to simple beauty. In contrast to the aesthetic of many hair care brands, BENJAMIN carries the clear message that beauty is in everyone and it’s this that has given the brand its unique identity.
DIME Nails: Creative girls and guys get their nails art-ified here. Bright purple walls and customized Dime Nails Nikes on display give the salon an already electrified vibe. But you won’t be rushed out of here. Enjoy a glass of prosecco while you enjoy one of their unique services – all named after songs by female r&b and rap artists.
Logan’s Gardens: Family owned Logan's Gardens sells more than 1,000 varieties of rare and heirloom edible plants on Sundays at the Hollywood Farmers Market and Wednesdays and Saturdays at the Santa Monica Farmers Market.
Love Your Hair by Rachel Carter: After years in Brooklyn, NY working as a Colorist, Rachel Carter has returned to Los Angeles to continue her journey celebrating and cultivating diversity through providing elite style and service for all genders, races, and hair textures. She creates modern and classic styles using cruelty and chemical free products.
Post21: Post 21 was created by a Mother-Daughter duo who for years, wanted a comprehensive marketplace that focused on modern and design forward products from black-owned businesses.
Union: Opened in 1991 on the streetwear mecca of La Brea Avenue, Union continues to bring its customers a curated selection of up and coming designers mixed with off-the-beaten-path high-end brands from around the globe.
Vector90: Developed in partnership with the late, great, Nipsey Hussle and the District 8 Los Angeles City Council. Vector90 is a co-working community and incubator based in South LA that is focused on developing underrepresented entrepreneurs.
For more black-owned fashion and lifestyle businesses, visit the Los Angeles Times guide.
HEALTH & WELLNESS
Ride On! Bike Shop/Co-Op: Another key black-owned business in Leimert Park, Ride On! is a full service bicycle shop that offers repairs, sales and rentals. The Co-Op is a member run bicycle collective that provides tools, space and a community environment to facilitate bike repair education.
SÜPRMARKT: LA native Olympia Auset founded SÜPRMARKT in 2016 with the goal of providing 100% organic produce to "food deserts" in underserved communities.
Thrive Health Lab: Located in View Park-Windsor Hills, Thrive Health Lab is a boutique health and wellness facility that aims to encourage and empower communities through education, proactive programming, and holistic wellness.
As this guide goes live, the incredible list of black-owned restaurants launched by Kat Hong (@prosciuttogirl69) has grown to nearly 350 restaurants! Following are some of the plant-based restaurants across LA that are featured in Kat's list.
VEGAN RESTAURANTS AND POP UPS
AZLA VEGAN Azla is one of the only Ethiopian restaurants outside of LA’s Little Ethiopia district, serving up vegan eats inside Mercado la Paloma (3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles 90007). Look for traditional dishes like gomen, kik alicha, and misir as well as spicy tofu tibs - baked tofu with caramelized onions and pepper medley.
COMPTON VEGAN Former teacher Lemel Durrah first launched his start-up catering service through social media, tantalizing viewers with photos of his plant-based spin on traditional comfort foods with menu standards like jackfruit ribs, collard greens, Buffalo Chik’n & Mac and more - then offered delivery within a 10-mile radius. The city has since enjoyed his creations in pop-ups all over and now Durrah operates Compton Vegan in a permitted and professionally equipped kitchen at Colony (11419 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles 90025).
In a video produced by Mercy for Animals, he states the goal was to “have an alternative to the everyday foods available in the inner city,” and was recently featured in Complex Magazine’s “No Beef: Why Hip Hop Went Vegan” video. Check @comptonvegan for what’s next.
DIVINE DIPS Located in Downtown LA, Divine Dips (601 S Los Angeles St, Los Angeles 90014) is known for their generous scoops of artisanal ice cream, made with a blend of organic coconut milk, cashews, nut milks, and other all-natural ingredients. Founder Diane Jacobs is the mastermind behind the shop and the brand available in pints at retail locations throughout the city. Check their Instagram for neighborhood fundraisers and fun meet-and-greets.
EARLES ON CRENSHAW While it's not entirely vegan, Earle’s on Crenshaw (3864 Crenshaw Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90008) is an iconic family-owned business that has offered an extensive vegan menu for years, with chili dogs, burgers, smothered fries and desserts guaranteed to make the mouth water. Don't miss the Lemon Cake.
JACKFRUIT CAFÉ Comedian/actor Angela Means, first known for her role as Felisha in the 1995 film Friday, now feeds hungry masses jackfruit tacos, cauliflower "wings," Super Soul Bowls, and healthy juice drinks at Jackfruit Cafe. The business started inside King’s Donuts in South LA, then moved into a food truck, and has lately found a home inside the shared space kitchens of Colony (11419 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles 90025) with options for drive through, dine-in, take-out, or catering. Means donates a portion of her Jackfruit Cafe profits to Love Always Sanctuary in San Fernando.
LARAYIA'S BODEGA LaRayia Gaston is the force of nature behind the fresh juices and whole food plant-based meals in her namesake bodega in Westlake (2713 W 6th St., Los Angeles 90057). Her heart extends beyond its walls to her non-profit Lunch On Me, which feeds thousands of vegan meals to homeless people in Venice, Watts and Compton at her once-a-month block parties.
Note: Besties Vegan Paradise (4882 Fountain Ave, Los Angeles 90029) is the only store in California to carry Lunch On Me's Love Without Reason drinks as well as Compton Vegan’s Ranch Dressing.
MISHA’S KIND FOODS Certified raw vegan/living foods chef Ian Martin first studied the art of vegan cheese-making at Juliano’s Raw and Matthew Kenney’s MAKE, then launched his line of creamy probiotic tree nut cheeses and schmears. Misha's Kind Foods is now beloved at farmers’ markets across LA, including Brentwood, Mar Vista, Sherman Oaks, Calabasas and Beverly Hills. Misha's non-dairy cheese spreads are available at retail stores like Besties Vegan Paradise, MillCross Coffee Bar & Kitchen (11050 Washington Blvd, Culver City), Larchmont Village Wine (223 N. Larchmont Blvd) and more. Misha's recently earned a kosher certification, as well.
STUFF I EAT Originally started as a catering business with a mission to provide “access to good quality, healthy food,” Stuff I Eat (114 N Market St, Inglewood 90301) is now a staple of Inglewood, known for its generous brunch platters, organic and gluten-free-friendly lunches, and astounding desserts by the effervescent soon-to-be-cookbook author Chef Babette.
UNCLE EDDIE'S VEGAN COOKIES The brown bags of delectable soft-baked cookies distributed across the country are actually made at Uncle Eddie’s Vegan Cookies, a family-owned and operated bakery in Glendale. Brothers Jeffrey and Robbie Jacobs are often seen repping the business at events like Eat Drink Vegan.
VURGER GUYZ The big food truck with the cartoon cheeseburger logo can be found on street corners all over LA. Friends Kori Vines, Kendall Patterson, Phillip Bennett, and Naeem Outler - all former NCAA athletes - they say their mission at Vurger Guyz is simple: “changing lives one bite at a time.” One bite of their Beyond Meat burgers and tacos will have eaters everywhere looking to get #Vurgerfied. Follow @vurgerguyz for their latest stops.
- BABA’S VEGAN CAFÉ
- BABY LOVE SWEETERY
- BEYOND VEGAN EATS
- CHARLIES BROWNIE
- COCOLUV COOKIES
- CAFE RUISSEAU
- HAPPY ICE
- KICK ASS VEGAN
- LETTUCE FEAST
- LOTUS VEGAN
- MIDWEST SOUL FOOD
- MUNCHIES DINER
- MY DADDY'S RECIPIES
- PUCKER UP LEMONADE
- RAHEL ETHIOPIAN VEGAN CUISINE
- SIMPLY WHOLESOME
- OH MY BURGER (Veg options)
- PLATE OF HUE
- T+T LIFESTYLE
- THE VTREE at Yamashiro
- VOODOO VEGAN