Savor the Derby: 5 Black-Owned Restaurants to Visit During Kentucky's Celebrated Race

From soul food to innovative cuisine, enrich your Kentucky Derby adventure with delicious culinary stops.

The Kentucky Derby, often called "The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports," is steeped in rich history and tradition. Dating back to 1875, this iconic horse racing event occurs annually at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. Interestingly, the Derby's early years were dominated by Black jockeys, who won 15 of the first 28 races, showcasing their vital role in establishing and shaping the sport. Legends like Isaac Murphy, the first jockey to win three Kentucky Derbies, are celebrated for their skill and pioneering contributions.

As you immerse yourself in the thrilling atmosphere of the Kentucky Derby, it's also a perfect opportunity to explore the vibrant culinary scene in Kentucky. Here are five must-visit Black-owned restaurants that offer delightful dining experiences, each bringing its unique flavor to the table during the festivities:

Shirley Mae’s Café (Louisville)

Step into this cozy spot for some authentic Southern comfort food. Shirley Mae's is renowned for its slow-cooked ribs and warm, buttery cornbread.

Big Momma’s Soul Food Kitchen (Louisville)

For a taste of home-cooked soul food, Big Momma’s is the place to be. Don’t miss their fried chicken and collard greens, a perfect meal to energize you for the Derby.

Barry’s Cheesesteaks and More (Louisville)

Known for its friendly atmosphere, Barry’s serves up some of the best cheesesteaks west of Philadelphia, along with a selection of classic American fast food.


The Black Italian (Louisville)

Offering an intriguing fusion of Italian and soul food, this restaurant delivers a unique dining experience with dishes like spaghetti and meatballs.

Dasha Barbours Southern Bistro (Louisville)

Dasha Barbours is a gem for those looking for genuine Southern cuisine. Their fried catfish and hush puppies are a must-try.

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