Chicago’s first permanent settler, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, was a Black man from Haiti, who is now honored with a downtown bridge, an iconic lakefront road, and the nation’s first independent Black history museum.

Du Sable is just one example of how Chicago’s Black community has made a lasting impact on the culture and history of our city — and the nation. And that legacy is proudly displayed throughout Chicago, from our downtown streets to our vibrant neighborhoods like Bronzeville, Hyde Park, Pullman, and beyond.

Here are just a few ways you can experience African American culture in Chicago, from beloved Black-owned restaurants to historic landmarks and cultural institutions celebrating Black heritage.

Black-owned restaurants and bars in Chicago

Friends dine on the patio at Virtue in Hyde Park
Virtue in Hyde Park

Chicago’s thriving Black-owned restaurant community offers diners a diverse range of options, from authentic international dishes to Chicago-style barbecue to James Beard Award-winning cuisine.

Dig into heaping portions of traditional Ethiopian cuisine at vegetarian-friendly Demera Restaurant in Uptown. Carnivores can head to Lexington Betty in Pullman, where you can try some of the city’s most acclaimed Chicago-style barbecue.

In Hyde Park, James Beard Award-winning chefs serve elevated versions of traditional Southern recipes at Virtue. Another must-visit spot is Bronzeville Winery, where art, music, and cuisine collide in a chic setting.

For drinks, plan a stop at Turner Häus Brewery, Chicago’s first Black-owned taproom, or enjoy elevated cocktails in an inclusive atmosphere at Nobody’s Darling.

Finally, satisfy your sweet tooth at the acclaimed Brown Sugar Bakery, known for its incredible cakes and desserts, or Justice of the Pies, which specializes in handmade sweet and savory pies.

Explore more Black-owned restaurants in Chicago.

Chicago landmarks honoring Black history

Victory Monument in Bronzeville

Black history comes to life in the Bronzeville neighborhood, known as the city’s Black metropolis. the Monument to the Great Migration celebrates the historic movement with a striking statue near Chicago’s southern lakefront. The Victory Monument, enshrined in the National Register of Historic Places, was erected in 1927 to memorialize an African-American unit that served in France during World War I.

The two monuments serve as markers for the Bronzeville Walk of Fame, a path that honors more than 100 Bronzeville residents who have made significant cultural contributions, including civil rights activist Ida B. Wells, poet Gwendolyn Brooks, astronaut Robert H. Lawrence Jr., and more.

DuSable Black History Museum
DuSable Black History Museum; photo by Abel Arciniega :: @tequilagraphics

The DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center is the country’s first independent museum dedicated to the history of African and African American culture and one of Chicago’s principal cultural institutions. This dynamic museum boasts more than 15,000 artifacts, including priceless paintings, sculptures, and historical memorabilia.

Throughout the city, you can see the homes of some of Chicago’s most prominent African American citizens, including Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, and Ida B. Wells. In Hyde Park, check out the spot where Barack and Michelle shared their first kiss, memorialized at the Obama Kissing Rock.

In the historic Pullman neighborhood, the A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum showcases the legacy of the Black Pullman porters and the history of the African American labor movement. The only museum of its kind in Chicago, it’s located within the Pullman National Historic Park.

Black art and culture in Chicago

In an exhibit at Gallery Guichard
Gallery Guichard; photo by
Abel Arciniega @tequilagraphics

The South Side Community Art Center has been a catalyst for creativity in Chicago for almost 80 years and was named a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Little Black Pearl Art & Design Center offers diverse youth education programs, plus a robust event calendar that features poetry readings, musical performances, and artist exhibits.

Gallery Guichard specializes in works relating to the African diaspora. This inviting space is a cornerstone of the Bronzeville community, featuring both international and national exhibitions that span mediums, including paintings, sculpture, and even furniture.

Congo Square Theater is dedicated to producing transformative work rooted in the African diaspora. And the Black Ensemble Theater in Uptown is one of the most diverse musical theatres in the country, known for lively performances that will have you up out of your seat and singing along.

The city is also home to a wealth of dance companies that honor and explore African American dance traditions, including Red Clay Dance Company, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, Muntu Dance Theatre, M.A.D.D. Rhythms, and more.

Music venues and festivals

Buddy Guys

In the 1900s, the Great Migration brought thousands of African American migrants to Chicago, who introduced the city to jazz and blues and went on to create their own distinct versions of the genres. That legacy lives on today with Chicago’s many legendary music venues and events.

If you’re looking for somewhere to hear Chicago-style blues, Buddy Guy’s Legends is the place to be. The South Loop venue, owned by the legendary musician himself, features live music from fresh talent and famous acts every night of the week. The world’s largest free blues festival, the Chicago Blues Festivaltakes over Millennium Park each June.

For jazz fans, the Chicago Jazz Festival brings top acts from around the country to the city every Labor Day weekend. The rest of the year, catch shows at iconic venues like the Prohibiton-era Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, Winter’s Jazz Club, and Andy’s Jazz Club.

House music is another beloved Chicago-born genre. Developed by local Black DJs during the late 1970s and ‘80s, house exploded from an underground dance scene into a worldwide phenomenon.

The city pays homage to that history with annual events like the Chicago House Music Festival and Conference and the Chosen Few Picnic every summer. Or head to M Lounge, where local DJs spin house tracks every weekend.