BOSTON (CBS) – The Black Restaurant Challenge is underway in Boston, with the goal of encouraging diners to try something new or support old favorites. About 70 restaurants from Boston neighborhoods are rolling out the welcome mat. It’s a delicious way to broaden your culinary horizons and support local businesses.

It’s a busy lunch time at Soleil in Roxbury’s Nubian Sq. Cheryl Straughter is the owner. Her restaurant is part of this year’s Black Restaurant Challenge. “This is a way to get to a broader community, and to let folks know we’re out there and we have great food,” she said.

This is the third year of the challenge, held during Black History Month. It kicked off over the weekend at Darryl’s Corner Bar and Kitchen on Columbus Ave. “We’re just encouraging everyone to visit someplace new, someplace you didn’t think of. Learn a little bit about our food and our culture, and celebrate community with us,” said Nia Grace the restaurant’s owner.

Darryl’s Corner Bar and Kitchen (WBZ-TV)

Soleil and Darryl’s are among the 70 restaurants involved in the promotion. “This challenge really allows people to learn of new restaurants they never knew existed, travel to different neighborhoods that they may not think to visit,” said Bernadine Desanges, a Soleil customer.

The restaurant business is a tough one, with narrow margins and intense competition. Access to customers and capital isn’t always equal if the ownership is African American or another minority. So the challenge is hoping to give those businesses a boost.

Meal being prepared at Soleil (WBZ-TV)

“I think it’s great. I think it’s something that should happen throughout the year, not only during February,” said Renee Omolade, a Soleil regular.

“Go a little bit further. Put on the brakes and stop and check us out,” asked Cheryl Straughter.

For the first time there’s a passport card available. If you get four punches throughout the month of February by going to one of the restaurants, you’ll be entered to win free catering from one of the participating businesses.

Here’s a list of restaurants that are part of the Boston Black Restaurant Challenge:

Dorchester
Bon Appetit
Bred Gourmet
Cesaria
Down Home Delivery
Food for the Soul
Family Affair Restaurant & Catering
Island Style Jamaican Restaurant
JP Roti Shop
Juice and Jazz Cafe
Levi’s Restaurant and Lounge
M & M BBQ
Murl’s Kitchen
Natif Natal Restaurant
Next Step Soul Food Café
Oasis Café
Oasis Vegan Veggie Parlor
One Family Diner
Only One Jamaican Restaurant
Raphael Caribbean Cuisine
Singh’s Roti Shop
Taste of Eden
Vaughan Fish & Chips
Wingz & Tingz

Downtown
Larry J’s BBQ
Savvor Restaurant & Lounge

Hyde Park
D Coal Pot
Wingz & Tingz
Zaz Restaurant

Jamaica Plain
Blue Nile Restaurant
Jamaica Mi Hungry

Mattapan
Au Beurre Chaud Bakery
Blue Mountain Jamaican Restaurant
Cafe Juice Up
Golden Krust
Le Foyer Bakery
Lenny’s Tropical Bakery & Restaurant
Pit Stop Barbecue
Prestige Cuisine
Shea Butter Smoothies

Roxbury
Ashur Restaurant
Dayib Cafe
District 7 Tavern
Fort Hill Bar + Grill
Ideals Sub Shop
Maxine’s on St. James
Nos Casa Café
Silver Slipper
Slades Bar + Grill
Soleil
Suya Joint
Top Mix

South End
Darryl’s Corner Bar + Kitchen
Lucy Ethiopian Cafe
MIDA
Wally’s Cafe Jazz Club

Multiple locations
Ali’s Roti
Flames Caribbean Restaurant
Fresh Food Generation
P&R Jamaican Restaurant

Greater Boston
Infused Kreyol (Malden)
Neighborhood Kitchen (Medford)
Pikliz International Kitchen (Somerville)
Rhythm N’ Wraps (Brookline)
The Coast Café (Cambridge)

Lisa Hughes

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