AAPI-owned spots to support on your next date
May is here and brings us Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. A time to celebrate diverse cultures, support our communities, and honor the contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders that have shaped who we are today. And as a company founded by three Korean sisters looking to shake up both the dating and entrepreneurial world, it holds a special place in our heart.
So in honor of AAPI Heritage Month, we’ve rounded up some AAPI-owned businesses in Chicago, Seattle, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles that you can check out on your next first date – or third date or anniversary date or just when you feel like getting something good.
Coffee Lab and Roasters
Owners (and husband-and-wife!) Helen Kim and Peter Moon worked tirelessly to keep Coffee Lab afloat during the pandemic – and the shop remains a highlight of the Lakeview neighborhood to this day. Pop in for their specialty slow-drip cold brew and some light bites.
Siam Noodle and Rice
Looking for a date spot in Uptown? Head over to this family-owned spot that’s been serving Thai cuisine in the area for over 30 years – and don’t skip out on the sticky rice.
This bakery and Filipino restaurant offers you a few options for your next date: a casual coffee meetup in the AM, a first-come-first-serve lunch, or a 13-course tasting menu that definitely requires reservations well in advance. But no matter what you choose, it’ll be a date to remember.
Whether you’re in the mood for a casual brunch date or a classic dinner date, this Logan Square spot should be on your list. Owners Vicki Kim, Nate Chung, and Edward Kim have blended Korean, Chinese, and Japanese flavors to create a perfect spot for your next date.
Head over to Lincoln Park to introduce someone new to Plate Lunch at this family-owned Hawaiian spot. And a date here wouldn’t be complete with an order of SPAM musubi, so be sure to grab a few.
Chef and Owner Wes Yoo set out to bring the tastes from his childhood in Seoul to Seattle, and delivers in the form of modern yet comforting Korean food. Drop by for some after-work drinks and eats from 4-5:30 PM to catch happy hour.
Lucky Envelope Brewing
Going on a date with a fellow brew-lover? Co-founders Barry Chan and Raymond Kwan are the masterminds behind the culturally-inspired beers on tap here, like their Peanut Butter Cream Stout or Lychee Sour Ale.
Head over to Beacon Hill where Chef and Owner Melissa Miranda is serving up delicious Filipino dishes inspired by her childhood. Try fun cocktails, like rhubarb-infused bourbon, and split some plates of lumpiang shanghai and fried oysters.
Phởcific Standard Time
Grab some pho and experimental cocktails at this speakeasy hidden away at Pho Bac’s downtown location. And be sure to try Khoa Was Here, a pho-fat-washed shot of Jameson that comes with a bowl of pho broth, named in honor of the co-owners’ late brother.
Looking to spice up date night? Head to this hot pot spot on Jackson Street for some Sichuanese cuisine. Bond over a shared bowl – and be sure to hit the sauce bar so you can debate over who whips up the best accompanying sauce.
Valley Brook Tea
Like the energy of a coffee date, but not much of a coffee drinker? This one’s for you. Head over to this cozy and bright spot to have some good conversation over an even better cup of tea.
This date offers a little more than just dinner, seeing as how Maketto is a restaurant, coffee house, and boutique all rolled into one. Visit for Cambodian- and Taiwanese-inspired dishes to share, like pork steamed bao and wok fried yu choy.
Looking for a food experience? This spot offers what they say are harder-to-find Thai dishes – and seeing as how Chef Jeeraporn ”P’ Boom” Poksupthon draws cooking skills from her mother and grandmother, you know you’ll be in great hands.
Ice Cream Jubilee
Sometimes a sweet treat is all you need for a perfect date. Owner Victoria Lai’s love of family trips for ice cream led to several locations in the DMV area, where you can stop in for flavors like Thai Iced Tea and Honey Lemon Lavender.
If you’re looking for a bit more upscale option that still feels homey, this spot in Fairfax definitely delivers. Bond over Hunan, Szechuan, Hubei, and home-style Chinese dishes that celebrate all of the Chang women in this family-owned business.
San Francisco Bay Area
Sue’s Gallery Cafe
This mom-and-pop shop with coffee, tea, and pastries is the perfect spot for a casual coffee date. And bonus, you can browse their handmade ceramics while you’re at it.
Home Coffee Roasters
Owners Annie Cheng and In Hwan Heo know a thing or two about coffee dates, as they went on weekly ones together while dreaming of opening a shop of their own. Now, you and your date can follow in their footsteps.
Visit this Oakland spot for delicious Filipino fare and island-inspired cocktails, brought to you by owner and chef Janice Dulce who grew up in the Bay Area and Guam and is now bringing recipes learned from her family to the public.
To our non-meat eaters, this one’s for you! Family-owned and operated in San Francisco’s Mission District, this is a great spot if you’re in the mood for Japanese cuisine that’s entirely vegan, too.
Grab some Chinese bites, beer, and tea from this casual, family-owned spot – with a chef whose twenty-plus years of dim sum expertise hail from Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong.
B Sweet Dessert Bar
Looking for something less formal than dinner, but different from the standard coffee date? Grab something decadent, like their famous banana pudding, from this dessert bar owned and operated by Barb Batiste, who grew up baking sweets for her close-knit Filipino family.
Serving Asian American cuisine, co-founders Philip Wang and Eric Wang turned to bo, po, mo, and fo, “the Chinese ABCs,” to come up with the name for their cafe. Stop by for tea, espresso, matcha, and plenty of shareables perfect for a date.
Did you know that in Hawaii, “broke da mout” is used by locals to describe food so good you don’t even have time to chew? Owner and Chef Tim Lee, Korean by blood and born and raised on Oahu, serves up homestyle Hawaiian food for Los Angeles. But if you’re on a first date, maybe try to chew a little.
Pine & Crane
Looking for a casual spot? Head over to this Taiwanese spot in Silver Lake for some staples like beef noodle soup and loose-leaf tea. Emphasis on casual, as it’s first come, first serve.
You can’t go wrong with a classic coffee date at this spot in the Arts District. The name comes from native Korean San Ma Ru, which means “mountaintop,” to symbolize their high-quality coffee, as the best beans come from high altitudes.
New York City
Head to this Lower East Side spot, which means “coffee shop” in Hokkien, for a taste of Nyonya cuisine. Chef and owner Kyo Pang uses family recipes and traditions to introduce visitors to this blend of Chinese and Malay flavors.
In the mood for something sweet? Soft Swerve has two locations in NYC where you can cool off with Asian-inspired ice cream flavors like matcha and ube purple yam.
Take your date to try the best barbecue in town at this family-owned and operated Filipino spot in Woodside. You’ll find classic dishes from the Philippines, plus their specialty Kapampangan cuisine.
Pasteur Grill & Noodles
Looking for a spot in Chinatown? Head here for authentic Vietnamese food that’s the byproduct of generations’ worth of family recipes.
If the casual coffee date isn’t your thing, how about tea instead? This intimate spot in the West Village has a wide variety of teas sourced from Taiwan, plus Taiwanese food to pair with it.
Let’s support our communities together
We know this list is far from complete, so don’t hesitate to branch out and find other AAPI-owned spots in your area, this May and beyond! And if you have locations in mind and want to share with others, head over to our Instagram post and drop it in the comments.