The Gumbo Smackdown and the Rise of Black Food Culture in Austin

Gumbo from Wild Magnolia's

From Cajun to Caribbean to Soul Food, the diversity of Black food knows no bounds. The delicious and treasured recipes passed from generation to generation is what makes Black food so coveted.

Despite the many challenges facing the Black community in Austin, the city has seen a burst of chefs, restaurants, and events celebrating Black food.

All across town, you can find amazing Black-owned restaurants. Longtime classic favorites like Hoover’s CookingRoland’s Soul Food and Fish or Sam’s BBQ.

Some of the best fried chicken is being seasoned and served at The Rolling RoosterMidtown Live Sports Cafe, The Gossip Shack, and Mr. Catfish & More.

You can savor some of the city’s most soulful soul food places like and Y’all’s Cafe or Fowler’s Smoking Soul Food.

There are so many wonderful Black-owned restaurants in Austin that it’d be tough to name them all, but you should patronize as many as you can.

One of the best parts of enjoying a meal is getting to experience it with others. If you’re looking for a Black food community, you can join We Be Grubbin or Black Foodies of Austin Facebook groups. Members post the delicious dishes they’ve tried around town or meet up to try new places together. Husband and wife foodies Lewis and Nicole Conway also share restaurant video reviews via their ATX Food Bloggers page. 

It’s the perfect way to meet other Black people in town and find some new favorite spots to eat. Foodies unite! 

Emojis Grilled Cheese Bar

Did we mention the food trucks? There’s no shortage of Black-owned food trucks in Austin, and new ones open all the time.

You could grab collard greens from My Granny’s Kitchen, pressed plantains from Kreyól Korner, artisan grilled cheese sandwiches from Emojis Grilled Cheese Bar, or poboys from DA “Boot”; there are a plethora of options available. And Austin’s newest Black-owned food truck – Sassy’s Vegetarian Soul Food – is racking up rave reviews 

With the support of the community, some of these food trucks have even been able to expand into brick and mortar establishments, such as Dirty Glove Midwest BBQ and Wild Magnolia’s.

Still can’t decide what to try? Well, if you want to enjoy multiple Black-owned food trucks at once, you should definitely plan to check out Soul Food Truck Fest. This mouth-watering food festival began in 2017 and will be returning this fall with an impressive lineup of food trucks from all across Texas. In addition to the 10+ trucks, the festival features arts and crafts vendors, live music, games, beverages, desserts and more.

There is also the monthly ATX Food Truck Fest and the inaugural Encore ATX Food Truck Fest.

Taste of Black Austin

These festivals are among many exciting Black food events happening throughout the year. 

Austin Justice Coalition, a grassroots, activist-led organization, hosts Black Food Week, which highlights a Black-owned food establishment for community members to visit each day.

The Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce hosts an annual Taste of Black Austin, an intimate reception that focuses on Black food history and features Austin’s top Black chefs. 

Be sure to get your taste buds ready for the upcoming Wild Magnolia’s + soulciti + Soul Food Truck Fest presents The Gumbo Smackdown: Mark Henry vs Wild Magnolia’s

Chef Darrell Owens over at Wild Magnolias, Austin’s hottest Cajun restaurant, brags that his spot serves up the city’s best gumbo.

However, this has often been challenged in a friendly debate by Olympic weightlifter, strongman, and retired professional wrestler, Mark Henry, who now resides in Austin.

On Saturday, Feb. 16, they’re going to settle the gumbo debate once and for all, and they’re inviting Austin out to join.  

From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., attendees can sample these two amazing gumbo dishes while enjoying music and more fun.

It’s $3 to sample both gumbos and cast your vote or $7 to purchase a full serving of your choice. A portion of the proceeds benefits Mark Henry’s Strong Kids Organization.

The event will also feature some of Austin’s premiere chefs, entrepreneurs, and activists as guest judges.

  • Joi Chevalier, The Cook’s Nook
  • Nefertitti Jackmon, Six Square Austin’s Black Cultural District
  • Martin Eason, Desire Catering
  • Eli Wells, soulciti
  • Meme Styles, Measure
  • Eric Byrd, Measure
  • Greg Grove, Kicking It Atx
  • Kunstance Dawson, Three Chicks Soulfood
  • Dee, Hometown Team Realtors
  • Jane Claire Hervey, BossBabes ATX
  • Jese Webb The’Loctician, Chandelier Catering

Be sure to come out to the event on February 16 at Wild Magnolia’s.located in Pflugerville next to the Cinemark 20 Theatre. 

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