Where to find good African food in Oakland?
I tried Lam-Toro West African restaurant (which serves Senegalese food) and Addis Ethiopian restaurant, both on Telegraph Ave (Oakland/Temescal), a couple of weeks ago. Absolutely DELICIOUS food at both places. I'm now hooked on African cuisine - where can I find the best in the Bay Area?
I just had lunch at Asmara, 5020 Telegraph Ave, today. It's only opened for lunch Fri-Sun, but dinner daily.
There were 2 of us and we ordered for starters a combination platter consisting of:
* Ziggni - strips of marinated beef cooked in berbere sauce & spice (very robust & chewy);
* Dorro Watt - menu said "hot, spicy chicken cooked in berbere sauce, serve with hard-boiled egg" (the egg seemed missing from ours);
* Ye-beg Alicha - cubes of lamb, stewed with curry & spices; and
A large entree of Tibsy Fit fit, i.e. pieces of Injera bread with beef strips, soaked in spicy tibsy (beef) sauce. It was the most delicious item in our lunch.
We had two glasses of Asmara's Comfort - a non-alcoholic drink which was said to consist of banana, coconut milk, orange juice, mixed fruits & honey, though it tasted just like a banana shake to me.
Asmara seemed to be very popular with the local Ethiopian/Eritrean community & the restaurant was very well-patronised.
Their food arrangement on the common sharing platter (very important in Ethiopian dining culture, from what I see on the Web) didn't seem as colorful nor as attractive as the one at Addis Ethiopian Restaurant (just a block further up at 6100 Telegraph Ave). I also thought I liked Addis' sunny dining room much more, although the service at Asmara is more competent & much friendlier.
Both Asmara & Addis were replete with beautiful handwoven rattan screens, African artworks & posters of Ethiopian scenery. But one thing Asmara's got in its favor, it's next door to Bakesale Betty so you can go & grab dessert there after lunch.
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1725 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94703
1101 San Pablo Ave, Albany, CA 94706
366 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA
In my experience, you can't beat Ethiopia Restaurant at Telegraph and Ashby for Ethiopian cuisine. Its even quiet and cozy enough for a date and you'll never get the cold or rude service common at the nearby Cafe Colucci.
2955 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley, CA
I highly recommend A Taste of Africa, which is in South Berkeley on Shattuck. www.atasteofafrica.net.
It used to be in a location right across from Ashby BART, and I was crushed when it closed down. I spent many happy evenings there, talking politics with the owner, drinking an incredible ginger drink, and eating delicious Cameroonian food.
I live in SF now so I am out of touch with the East Bay food scene, but then I discovered a few months ago that the owner has a truck that he sets up at the Ashby Flea Market. I was so happy to know that this food would once again pass my lips! Imagine my delight when I was walking down Shattuck one night a few weeks ago and found they have reopened at a new location! They were closing, and I was on my way to dinner at Herbivore, but I went in to talk to the owner for a moment and it's still the same charming, gracious guy.
So I can't recommend the food with any recency - I've never even eaten from the kitchen they have now, for example - but it is most definitely worth checking out. Here's a chowhound thread about the new restaurant: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/360390.
Do check it out and give a report! I'd love to know how you like it.
I second that recommendation- they have the best vegetarian sampler around, both in terms of variety (you get about 10-12 different dishes) and quality. The restaurant is actually:
Cafe Eritrea d'Afrique
4069 Telegraph (Telegraph and 40th St.)
Closed on Tuesdays (which for some reason is when I always crave it!)