Kwanzaa venerates African culture and heritage in seven days of observance beginning on Dec. 26. The word itself derives from a Swahili phrase meaning “first fruits of the harvest.” On the year’s last day, a big feast called Karamu can be classic African-American soul food or dishes from every corner of the African diaspora. Cajun catfish, jerk chicken, rice and beans, black-eyed peas, collards, okra and sweet potato pie all make perennial appearances. Here’s a sampling of hotels savoring these bold flavors.
Motor City Casino, Detroit
Soul Food Sundays are a standard at Assembly Line, the award-winning, all-you-can-eat buffet at this 400-room casino hotel in the entertainment district; the restaurant sits across from 1,500-seat Sound Board theater, which books top entertainers. The hotel offers 67,000 sq. ft. of meeting and event space. The grand ballroom seats 1,500 banquet-style.
InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta, Georgia
Chef Art Smith at Southern Art and Bourbon Bar was Oprah’s personal chef for a decade, and he specializes in deeply comforting, down-south cooking with a contemporary twist. As in Addie Mae’s Soup, his family chicken and dumplings recipe, and side skillets of smoked tomatoes and okra with grilled crostini.
The Venetian Resort, Las Vegas
Soulful satisfaction is on the menu at Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, which serves up Bread & Butter Fried Okra and collard greens with cider vinegar and cracklins to go with its Shrimp ‘n’ Grits or fried chicken with honey hot sauce. Just steps from Sands Convention Center on Restaurant Row, it offers buyouts for groups of up to 300.
The Hermitage Hotel, Nashville, Tennessee
The city’s original restaurant in its original hotel, Capitol Grille has been serving the region’s classics since 1910, and now uses seasonal ingredients from its own Double H Farms. Crispy chicken comes with braised collards, and both pair deliciously with Anson Mills creamy grits with white cheddar and hot-pepper mash.