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i-Shebeen Madiba? Yolele? Keur N'Deye?

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Hello! I am trying to pick an African restaurant for a little celebration dinner, and I am totally in the dark (both about the cuisine and the BK choices).

We'll be a group of 8, and 4 are vegetarian. We're hoping for something lively, since it is a celebration, but great food is also a priority.

Any recommendations are welcome. We could easily go into Manhattan too.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Yolele is the best of the bunch. The same chef owns La Dakar in Clinton Hill that's also very good. Enjoy.

    1. Yolele was sadly papered up last week - I think it may be out of business...

      Keur N'Deye just recently reopened - I believe it may have a different name.

      Madiba is fairly expensive and has gone downhill in past years. However, they've just opened a South Beach outpost and perhaps a more competent staff has moved in to the NYC branch?

      3 Replies
      1. re: Lambretta76

        I'm sorry to hear that Yolele closed. Such a good restaurant and talented chef.

        1. re: Claire

          I think Madiba is the just about the most overpriced and overrated joint in all of Brooklyn. There, I said it!

          1. re: squinchy

            The above sentiment is so true it bears repeating. Madiba is offensively overpriced. I just ate there on the night of Friday, June 23, 2006, and while the atmosphere was unique and the food and service were decent enough, the number of dollars that left my pocket prevents me from recommending the establishment to anyone. It is especially irksome because the atmosphere is so casual and quirky, as if it was a roadside oddity on one's travels. But don't be fooled. I felt roped in like a tourist in Times Square.

      2. you could also try KUSH Cafe on Putnam and Fulton. The area isn't anything great, but inside the cafe the crowd and staff are warm and welcoming, and the food is unique, fresh, tastes great and you get lots of it!

        1 Reply
        1. re: emo

          Could you elaborate on what kind of food Kush serves?

        2. I cannot vouch for the place, but according to Robert Sietsema, the only West African restaurant (Ghanan, in fact) in NYC is the Meytex Lounge on Flatbush, between Lincoln & Maple.

          I can no longer find the Sietsema review on the Voice site, but other opinions abound:




          (I still can't find the original, but I did copy this from the Sietsema review when it came out
          )"Named after the textile business that gave rise to it, Meytex became the city's only West African resturant to serve booze after Myrtle Avenue's African Village closed last year. Hence the Guinean designation "chop lounge." The chop (food) is splendid, including some rarely seen mashes such as banku and omo tou, the latter made by smashing rice until it turns into a delicious mutilated version of itself. Soups feature combinations of stockfish, peanuts, goat, spinach, palm oil, peanut butter, escargot, tilapia and fresh ell, and you can wash everything down with an icy liter of Star Beer. Don't miss wache, the forerunner of African-American hoppin' john."

          1 Reply
          1. re: jmj

            I know that Sietsema has been in the Bronx because he's written about Latin American joints there, but there are a number of West African restaurants. I haven't been up there much lately, but I believe that Ebe Ye Yie (Ghanaian) is still on Jerome a few blocks south of Fordham Road and it used to compete with a place further down on University, and I have seen some other little places from other parts of Africa. Sietsema also wrote about a Nigerian Café called Aziza at 3716 White Plains Road in the Bronx. I'm sure there are other places around there because I went to a traditional Ghanaian party called an outdooring (akin to a baptismal party) on the 2nd floor of a place near there.

            And last I heard, Harlem was still part of NYC and West 116th Street has a block or two with a number of Senegalese and Ivoirian restaurants between Adam Clayton Powell and Frederick Douglass. I used to go to Africa Kine which now opened up a new place upstairs near the FD end of the block. There's also La Marmite at 2268 8th Ave at 121st, Senegalese, and there are lots of little places scattered around this area of Harlem, many of them Senegalese.

            I'm sure that there are many that we don't know about since none of these are areas that don't seem to be frequented by too many chowhounds from these boards. I've even read about a Nigerian Place in St. George on Staten Island.

          2. There is a review of Kush, as well as of other African alternatives, on the Voice site. (see below)

            Hope you post back on what you find.


            1. Sadly, Yolele has been closed for the last several months, a real loss to the neighborhood in my opinion.

              I must give a minority report on Madiba. While the food is not inexpensive, it certainly is not highway robbery. At least when I visited a couple of months ago, many entrees were under $20. The atmosphere there is very lively, the decor really interesting, and the food quite good. While I prefer Senegalese cuisine in general (Yolele and, I believe, Keur-n-Dye) I believe Madiba is the only South African restaurant in the city. If you go on a weekend book a table!

              1 Reply
              1. re: thesupersleuth

                I wish the food was better at Madiba since the music and ambiance were lively - when we went a couple years back (of course the chef could have changed since then), stuff like fish and salads tho rather pricy were better than the "traditional" south african fare - my husband and his brother described their meat stew in a bread shell as tasting like dog food, and the prices were far from cheap. Wine prices were also very high.

                Id be interested in hearing more recent reports, too.

              2. Any reports on whether the food has gone downhill (or, hopefully, uphill) since the opening of the sister branch in South Beach?

                1. I wouldn't recommend madiba. i agree that the prices are a bit high and the food is nothing memorable.

                  1. I haven't been to Madiba in a while, and I have had good dishes there in the past, although I agree with a lot of the negative comments about it here. If you crave some of the South African meals that are only available here, my recommendation is to go for brunch. The food is cheaper and you don't have your conversation drowned out with music. I always like the bunny chow (not a rabbit dish, but a big breadbowl with lots of tasty stuff thrown in) and bobotie, which is South African meatloaf. The pap und voers -- a sausage dish -- also makes for a good brunch. Also, as I recall, the bartender makes very tasty bloody Marys.

                    I agree that Yolele's closing was a great loss. It looks like there are other Senegalese restaurants on that vicinity of Fulton Street that I'll have to check out. Keur N Dye re-opened, but it doesn't look like they have any Senegalese dishes on the menu! (I used to like their yassa dishes). The last good Senegalese meal I had at an extant restaurant was at Keur Sokhna on 116th Street in Harlem.