The hospitality industry has been one of the hardest hit during the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s now EVEN more important than ever to continue supporting small and local businesses.
I want to shine a particular light on some of the amazing black-owned restaurants, cafes and street food outlets in Leeds, who are continuing to serve delicious food during this time, whilst also using their platform and their food to support causes and bring people together. I want to encourage people to keep ordering from these places during these times and when COVID-19 is finally a thing of the past and our regular day-to-day lives eventually resume, I encourage people, including myself, to make a conscious effort to support these businesses on a much more regular basis – because they are amazing.
Obviously, this is by no means at all, an exclusive list – there are so many other businesses out there and so many street food/pop-up businesses who might be struggling during lockdown measures and the current restriction on outdoor markets. I want to continue to keep adding to this list and if you have a particular favourite you’d like me to add, please let me know!
Ever since I’ve been in Leeds there’s been one name synonymous with the best Jamaican food, always, and that’s the famous Maureen’s. She’s Leeds royalty and her place is an institution. Just look at the queues she attracts at every single Leeds West Indian Carnival – they stretch out for miles through Potternewton Park and hundreds of people will happily wait for hours just to taste some of her unbeatable jerk chicken and curry goat.
During COVID-19, Maureen has delivered free meals to community heroes (nominated by her followers) as a way of thanking them for the support they’ve provided to Leeds residents during this time. Not only that, but she’s also done the same for first time mums during lockdown, to bring them hot food and comfort during these testing times and let them know they’re doing a great job AND she’s also delivered free meals to elderly members of Jamaica Society Leeds. If anyone knows the power that kindness and food have on community spirit and bringing people together, it’s Maureen.
Fresh, healthy and delicious West African street food. Incredible jollof rice paired with marinated chicken thigh, parsley-stuffed Tilapia fish or jerk chicken, with sides of salad, veg and yummy plantain skewers.
During COVID-19, they’ve been using their platform to share petitions to sign, such as: testing frontline NHS staff for COVID-19 as a priority and urging the UN to ban the use of violence in developing countries for COVID-19 restrictions, as well as a Go Fund Me page for supporting Leeds African communities during this time. They’ve also shared a recipe on social media for their famous lamb maffe, cooked in peanut sauce, with vegetarian and vegan options available, with a cooking tutorial on its way! (check out their Instagram for a tutorial, already live, on how to make their jollof rice)
They serve traditional Ethiopian cuisine which consists of generously spiced lamb, beef, chicken, chickpeas and scrolls of injera: a sour, fermented flatbread with a spongy texture and the national dish of Ethiopia. The Abyssinia Special is a giant and colourful platter of a generous helping of injera and about fifteen portions of meat-based and vegetarian options.
They also perform traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremonies where the coffee is roasted live and served with popcorn!
Abyssinia recently announced they can now start delivery and takeaway.
Jenny’s Jerk Chicken
THE place to get your jerk chicken fix in the city centre. They recently partook in Leeds Kirkgate Market’s click and collect initiative where you could pre-order their famous Caribbean fried dumplings, patties, curry goat and BBQ jerk chicken, to enjoy at home.
During COVID-19, they’ve been sharing recipes online for their curry goat and dumplings, as well as sharing videos of their very own back yard chicken coop, banana bread inspiration and a teaser for their soon to launch tropical mayo.