EVANSVILLE, Ind. — In honor of Black History Month, we’ve rounded up food businesses owned by Black entrepreneurs in the Evansville and Henderson area.
Whether you’re looking for an elegant in-home dinner, a cooking class, barbecue, fun food truck fare, a vegan entrée or dessert, pizza, exotic Caribbean cuisine, homey comfort food or an upscale appetizer and a glass of wine, you’ll find someone on this list who offers it.
If we’ve missed one, let us know. Reach out to [email protected] and we’ll add them.
John Earl’s Ice House and Fine Foods
733 Martin Luther King Blvd.; 270-854-4798
John Earl’s, owned and run by John and Carmalita McFarland, is a tiny walk-up restaurant offering casual food favorites such as fried appetizers, burgers, wings, barbecue sandwiches, tenderloins, catfish and chicken salad. The house-made cole slaw is a favorite side. Soft serve ice cream may be enjoyed in a cup, as a sundae or in a thick milkshake with add-ins. No credit or debit cards are accepted at John Earl’s.
1526 N. Green St.; 270-830-0101
This pizza shop, owned by Karen and Earlie Rupert, is known for large and heavily loaded pizzas such as the 16-inch Big Daddy, the 18-inch Granddaddy and 20-inch Gutbuster with extra portions of all the house toppings. Double-decker pizzas are also offered, or, sure, you can get a regular-sized pizza with whatever you like on it. Have a stromboli or pizza oven sandwich, and, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings go by for the fried fish special. The fish is cooked fresh to order with your choice of two sides. When we’re not in the middle of a pandemic, the sides are offered on a buffet.
Taylor’s Grill on Wheels
130 N. Water St. Henderson; 270-854-4302
Right across the street from Henderson’s Audubon Mill Park, Carl and Maai Taylor’s carry-out barbecue spot is perfectly situated for grabbing lunch or dinner to eat at a picnic table overlooking the river. You’ll find pulled pork on sandwiches, on nachos or loaded fries, stirred into macaroni and cheese, and more. Smoked chicken breast, pork chops and occasionally ribs, brisket or mutton are on the menu. Watch for other specials such as soups and fried fish on Friday.
1010 S. Kentucky Ave.; 812-303-0631
If you love exotic Caribbean food, this is the only place in Evansville to get it. Frensen and Lorvens Cede, Meldy Devallon and Lovelie Francois co-own the business, which features the foods of Haiti. From mild oxtail stew to fiery pikliz relish which looks like slaw but contains habanero chilies; from fried plantain bananas to mounds of seasoned rice with red beans; from whole fried red snapper with all the garnishes to Hatian-style macaroni and cheese, if you haven’t tried this food it will open new doors for your taste buds.
Chef Adam Edwards
If you need an elegant in-home dinner party or a cooking class right in your own kitchen, Chef Adam Edwards is the man to call. A culinary graduate of Johnson and Wales University in Miami, Edwards has many years of experience in fine dining. He’ll work out a custom menu with you, but some of his recent offerings have been chili crusted beef tenderloin with sweet potato hash and chipotle crema, shrimp ceviche with avocado and ahi tuna tartare with avocado and edamame. Edwards comes by his cooking skills naturally — find his father, wine expert Walter Edwards Jr., downtown at Entwined Wine and Cocktail bar.
Dontae’s Highland Pizza Parlor
6669 Kratzville Road; 812-777-0016
Chef Dontae Hines has been making some of Evansville’s favorite pizza and creative sandwiches for years, and in 2020 he finally got his own restaurant. A Dontae’s, he’s cooking up crisp crust pizzas such as the Gurg with barbecue sauce, pulled pork, candied jalapeños and pineapple and the Hot Hawaiian with ham, bacon, pineapple, brown sugar and candied jalapeños. Have a stromboli or one of Dontae’s creative toasted paninis such as The Cluckin Pig with chicken, bacon, white cheddar, onion, roasted tomato and pesto; or have the Peachy Cow with brisket, peach reduction, cheddar cheese, pickles and onion. A second location will be opening soon.
Frank Jr.’s Catering Service
3012 Covert Ave #F; 812-475-9880
Frank Jr.’s is a longtime East Side Evansville barbecue spot known for great ribs and spectacular sauce with just the right blend of spice, tang and sweetness. Owner Frank Patton is doing catering only these days for groups of 10-300. Have his excellent barbecue or choose baked or fried chicken, meatloaf, ham, pork chops or another entrée with your choice of homemade sides. Frank’s wife Roxane bakes the pies, including chess, pecan, sweet potato and apple.
Smalbert’s Comfort Food Catering
Smalbert’s is a new catering service by Melanie Albert. She specializes in meals prepared in her inspected kitchen and brought with full service to your home. She will even bring tables and decorate if needed. For holidays, she offers combo meals that customers may order ahead of time for pickup. Custom menus are Albert’s thing, but some entrée’s she’s cooked recently are Cajun salmon and shrimp pasta, Beef Bourguignon and Tequila and lime-marinated steak with rice and black bean salsa. Contact her through her Facebook page.
The Wine Down
8666 Ruffian Lane, Newburgh; 812-490-0066
The place for smooth Jazz, a glass of curated wine and elegant sharable plates is the Wine Down in Newburgh, owned by Chya and John Colbert. The Colberts search for unusual wines from around the world so guests can have a taste of something they’ve never experienced before. Chya is also the chef. On the regular menu she offers salads, a charcuterie board, flatbreads such as the Wine Down Hot Brown with creamy white cheese sauce, bacon, grilled chicken, roasted tomato and cheese and more. She also enjoys cooking up weekend special dishes, for example, a chicken tortellini soup in a tomato and basil broth, Chicken Alfredo pasta with broccoli and desserts such as apple cake with cinnamon pecans, caramel and cream cheese icing.
Wingz & Thingz
Shelly Black is serving up her chicken wings with signature sauces, Italian roast beef sandwiches, chicken and waffle sandwiches and more for private parties through her Wingz & Thingz catering service. If you need a party platter of wings or an enormous whole-loaf sub sandwich, give Shelly a call.
The Divas Cookin truck, owned by LaTonya Davis, has become well-recognized all around Evansville. The Diva fish sandwich is Davis’ claim to fame, with a big hand-breaded fish filet, spicy Diva sauce and all the dressings on a bun; make it with a chicken breast and it becomes the Sassy Chick sandwich. Fried fish strips, fried whole chicken wings and loaded fries are also on the menu alongside homemade desserts.
Fat Cat’s BBQ
You might have noticed Victor Henry with his big smoker and trailer on Washington and Kentucky Avenues last year when the weather was nice. Lately, he’s been sitting up more often at the
His menu changes occasionally, but you’ll find goodies such as pulled pork, smoked sausage, pork steak, meatballs, ribs and rib tips, smoked chicken and wings, pulled pork and burgers with a great choice of sides and desserts such as mac & cheese, greens, corn on the cob, baked beans, sweet potato pie, pecan pie and many more. You can even buy Henry’s homemade sauce in bulk to take home.
Random Justice Phillips can be found all around town in is big blue bus, where you can fill up on all kinds of fun and creative food. Phillips built his name on giant smoked turkey legs but changes the menu often with new creations. He’s added an extra-crunchy hand-breaded fried chicken sandwich, fried oreos and funnel cakes to the menu recently. Look for other goodies such as brisket egg rolls, potato soup, burritos, deep fried tacos in a hand-rolled shell, Chicago style sausage, fried catfish, burgers and much more.
It’s all chicken all day at Bryson and Tirita Hatchett’s Trappin’ Chick’n truck. You’ll find it in Henderson with a massive menu of wing selections with sauce choices from Korean BBQ to mango habanero to garlic parm. Chicken tenders are jumbo and hand-breaded. Have one on a Nashville hot slider or chopped on the loaded red potatoes. Nachos, loaded fries and more all are topped with chicken. For dessert, have chess pie baked by Bryson’s cousin Canaan Hatchett.
Tri-State Snack Shop
The Tri-State Snack Shop truck specializes in fried fish and chicken wings cooked up by husband and wife team Demetrius and Needra May.
If you’re not a catfish fan this is the truck for you, as the crispy curls of fish (perfect with hot sauce or the truck’s special mild sauce) are made with ocean perch, flounder or deep-fried salmon. If you are a catfish fan, try it anyway because those light little nibbles are delicious. Soon, the Mays will open the Tri-State Lounge in Henderson, which will have ticketed events with food by Tri-State Snack shop and will offer space for events rental as well.
Quintin Baltzell mans the smoker at QBs BBQ, which you can find at the Evansville downtown Market on Main on Wednesday mornings in the summer. Look for pulled pork sandwiches, ribs, pork chops and chicken. Cash only.
Vegan Eats and Treats
You don’t have to be a vegan to love the food from Tori Chapman’s Vegan Eats and Treats. Find her at area events, occasionally at Myriad brewery, or inquire about custom catering. You never know what will be on the menu but expect it to be delicious, from pho tacos to buffalo Chick’n eggrolls, loaded meatless burgers, Chick’n and waffles with stewed apples, fried green tomatoes and vegan bacon sandwiches, and every kind of cookie, cupcake and pastry you can imagine. You may find Vegan Eats and Treats pastries at River City Coffee + Goods on any day.