outside BJ Restaurant
BJ’s Market and Bakery Exterior

The Hungry Black Man’s Chicago Black Owned Food tour was delicious, cultural and informative. Missing our Miami sun, we stopped at Sip and Savor for coffee, Anita’s Gumbo for delectable seafood, unimpeachable brunch at Batter and Berries, and outstanding BBQ at Bear Down BBQ.

Then it was time to seek some good ole soul food. We dined at several soul food spots, but our first was Chef John Meyer’s BJ Market and Bakery located at 1156 W 79th Street, Chicago, IL 60620.

The eatery was very spacious and comfortable with cushioned seating booths that I prefer over chairs any day. A full-service bakery brandishing everything from delicious fresh baked bread to peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies to peach cobbler and an assortment of cakes is built into the restaurant! Lord have mercy, everything from the bakery was heavenly; however, it was the food that stole the show!

bj market spread
BJ Market and Bakery Hungry Black Man’s Table Spread

For starters, we ordered the Mustard Fried Catfish Dinner ($12.99). Each bite slowly revealed the cook as an usher board president/grandma in a 100-year-old Baptist Church throwing down for the post Sunday service dinner sale. Well-seasoned and crunchy where it matters, the fish was fried to perfection with a golden-brown exterior and a meaty tender filet under the tasty fried batter. Accompanying the filet were fresh veggies sautéed with a nice crisp and firmness that I appreciate, and Black family reunion approved macaroni and cheese.  This combination was the best thing at the restaurant in my opinion, along with the Salmon and is a definite MUST HAVE.

BJ Fried Fish
Mustard Catfish Dinner

Next came the Roasted Turkey Wing Dinner ($12.79) with homemade cornbread stuffing and candied yams. This experience was increasingly becoming #BlackThanksgiving!

Why the hell am I tasting low country cooking like this in Chicago? Better yet, who the hell makes Thanksgiving plates in the Spring? The incredibly flavorful wings were meat falling off the bone tender. They were served with a tasty cornbread stuffing and candied yams that were cooked to a perfect soft/firm balance having look for a wooden chair in starting off my Deacon’s Prayer. Yes Lord!

Black thanksgiving bj market
Turkey Wing Dinner

Impressed, I switched things up from Black Thanksgiving to Black BBQ and Cookout with the BBQ Rib Tips Dinner ($13.49), with a side of yams and string beans. In Miami, we don’t have rib tips, and from the taste of BJ’s, I think we need to start. The meat was tender and seasoned well enough to be satisfied, but at the same time welcoming a BBQ sauce to complete the flavor profile. The sauce was decent, but the flavor of the meat is what I appreciated the most.

rib tips
Rib Tip Dinner

Slowly getting full, I put in an order of their famous ½ Smoked Chicken Dinner ($10.99) smothered in a house gravy with a side of homemade mash potatoes and steamed cabbage. Unlike traditional white savory turkey gravy with hints of wine and aromatics, chicken gravy is often much blander – like that served at most high school cafeterias.

Chef did an amazing job because this gravy wasn’t your standard cafeteria gravy we are used to, rather, BJ’s gravy was packed with flavor and literally had me wanting to pour it over everything, including in my mouth. (Which I did when nobody was looking.) DO NOT JUDGE ME!

smothered chicken bj market
Smoked Chicken Dinner

Breathing heavily and steeped in gravy shame, I decided we should go lite with the Salmon Filet Dinner ($14.69) with a side of steamed broccoli and cabbage.

In retrospect, I should have eaten this and simply sampled everything else, but I was in my Game of Thrones mode and everything was getting destroyed! The salmon was one of the best things on the menu. It was cooked to an exactness and precision that salmon requires in texture and seasoned with a fresh herbal seasoning accompanied by a homemade dill sauce for dipping. Our sides were tasty and simple veggies. The salmon is a MUST HAVE.

salmon BJ Market
Salmon Dinner

BJ Market and Bakery truly impressed our team. There are three locations within the Chicago area, but we were only able to visit the 79th Street spot. I’d be surprised if the other locales did not boast the same deliciousness and acceptable service. I am greatly anticipating our next Black Chicago Food Tour so that I can find out for sure. BJ Market and Bakery is Hungry Black Man Approved. You can reach them at (773) 723-7000.

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Written by thehungryblackman

Starex Smith is an accomplished and experienced public administrator, fundraiser, foodie, and culinary business developer who has committed himself to maximizing the Black experience in the United States! He currently serves as Vice President of Strategy and Development for Black Tech Week with over twelve (12) years of experience in managing public/private partnerships, large scale events, and nonprofits. He has successfully raised over 20 million dollars in funding for various governmental entities, food companies, and individuals. Starex has assisted countless food industry businesses successfully obtain funding, taking mom and pop storefronts to scalable businesses. His success in working with restaurants sparked a passion for food and entrepreneurship which led to the launching of Sothern Bytes, a teaching platform food business dedicated to an ever evolving food industry with a focus on technology, culture and innovation. Having constantly run into stereotyping negatively affecting his dining and vacationing experiences, Starex decided to curate great destinations, restaurants, and discuss issues surrounding being a hungry Black man. Starex completed both his Bachelor’s and Master’s coursework in Public Administration at Florida International University where he served as president of the Black Student Union and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Incorporated, Lambda Tau Chapter


  1. The picture at the top of the blog (the exterior of the restaurant) is the 87th and Stony Island location. There should be a caption stating the location pictured is not the location you visited.


  2. They are good. Hopefully, on your next tour you will come in to “Chicago Smerqs” check out our page on Facebook and hopen to see you on your next tour


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