From Soul Food to African Delights

By Hywania Thompson | Pictured: Muriel’s Place; Photography by Shalicia Johnson

From food trucks to dine-in restaurants and catering operations, six local Black-owned food businesses are serving up meals to comfort and satisfy the belly and the soul.


This Willy Street staple owned by Markos Regassa specializes in East African and Ethiopian dishes, many made with a mix of cumin, curry powder, garlic and other spices. Some popular meals include the coconut curry chicken, vegetarian peanut stew and Dorowot — chicken, carrots and spices in red sauce. Meals are typically served over rice or injera, an Ethiopian flatbread. In typical Wisconsin fashion, Buraka offers a Friday night fish fry.


Named in honor of his mom, Muriel Pipkins, who died of breast cancer at age 46, Will Green opened Muriel’s Place last May. Folks can dine in at the cozy spot on East Washington Avenue, or buy frozen pizzas to go.

The restaurant serves Off the Block brand pizzas and salsa. The brand is an offshoot of the youth employment and entrepreneurship program born out of Mentoring Positives, also founded by Green, in which kids help produce the pizzas and salsa. The most popular pizza at Muriel’s Place is a pepperoni pie called the Gourmet Pepé. The eatery offers side salads and chocolate chip cookies as well.


Falbo Bros Pizzeria on Park Street may be known for its pizza with hand-tossed dough made from scratch. However, the restaurant has a variety of hot and cold sub sandwiches, salads and an extensive list of appetizers. Mozzarella sticks, cheese curds and Falbo’s famous cheese bread are just a few starters to kick off a meal. When it comes to pizza, Falbo’s offers a wide range of toppings and premium pizzas, like the Cajun Firebomb and Feta Fetish.


The name says it all — Sista’s Chicken and Fish is known around town for its fried chicken and catfish. Nisa and Freddie Carter pop up with their food truck in their usual spot on the corner of Wingra and Park Streets, at Dive Inn on Cottage Grove Road and other places around Dane County. The menu has a variety of chicken and fish meals, complete with French fries and bread.

The catdaddy catfish sandwich features a 5-ounce catfish filet accented with jerk mayo. They also offer two types of polish sausages — a Maxwell Street polish, which originated in Chicago’s Maxwell Street Market, and Leon’s Beef Polish.


Carmell Jackson opened her restaurant on Badger Road in 2010 and operated it for five years before transitioning exclusively to catering. Her crisp and juicy fried chicken cannot be passed up. The mac and cheese is also excel- lent — creamy, and baked to perfection. Melly Mell’s serves up other soul- food staples like collard greens, candied yams and more. Jackson also offers vegetarian, gluten-free and vegan options. Melly Mell’s will also be a vendor at the Madison Public Market when it opens.


What started as a catering operation and pop-up vendor when it opened in 2018, is now a restaurant on State Street. Just Veggiez owner and chef James Bloodsaw started his business after noticing a shortage of vegan food options in the city. Just Veggiez has a wide variety of salads, sandwiches, pasta dishes and pizzas. The Italian sandwich, chix sandwich and pizza are a few of the more popular items on the menu. For those with a sweet tooth, the menu also includes chocolate chip cookies, ice cream and milkshakes. Bloodsaw will continue to offer catering services and vend at pop-ups and vegan festivals, too.

More from Hywania Thompson
Ms. Milele Retires from UMOJA
After nearly 30 years at the helm, Milele Chikasa Anana, 85, retired...
Read More
0 replies on “From Soul Food to African Delights”