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Great African restaurant?

I know its unsophisticated to ask for African recommendations, since food in Ethiopia has little in common with, say, food in Senegal. But does anyone have recommendations for really great African restaurants? Preferably not Ethiopian, since that's pretty easy to find. But I'll go anywhere in the five boros.
Thoughts?

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  1. I haven't been there for about a year, but if it's still there, restaurant Le Dakar in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, is wonderful. The food is Senegalese, cooked with a light hand. There were two dishes on the menu--one with a porgy in a lemony tomato broth with rice; the other was roasted chicken and onion confit. Both were delicious. I also loved the tart on a thin, buttery crust layered with apples and mango.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Claire

      I visited Dakar on Grand St the other night. Delicious food and friendly staff.
      Nice place to go on a date.

      http://www.dakarcafe.net/
      (The menu I recall has a few other dishes that I do not see on their website or menupages.com. For example, we had the soupe kanja, a kind of seafood gumbo over white rice.)

      1. re: racer x

        Sounds great. We will try it soon. Just note that it is on Grand Ave. (Grand St. is in Williamsburgh)

        1. re: bobjbkln

          Bumping this thread 'cause I just noticed the Le Dakar chef is nominated for an IACP book award - in the category First Book/The Julia Child Award, Pierre Thiam for "Yolele! Recipes from the Heart of Senegal"
          (Go Brooklyn!)
          Review of the book:
          http://www.latimes.com/features/food/...

          Grand Ave is in Clinton Hill BKLYN, between Lafayette and Greene Aves, about 12 blocks from BAM

          1. re: pitu

            walked by Le Dakar last night at around 8 pm (admittedly Monday) and it was totally empty, chef sitting on the sidewalk. Looks like they need some love!

    2. Wet Towel: Search this board carefully. A few years ago, there were a few threads about African restaurants. About midway between the Grand Concourse and Yankee Stadium, you will find a neighborhood with several authentic African restaurants, including a Ghanian restaurant that makes outstanding fufu. In fact, I think the Voice food critic, Robert Sietsema, did a walking tour of this neighborhood. In addition, in West Harlem, you will also find some authentic African places, also mentioned in posts on this (and the Manhattan) board a year or two ago.

      here's a link or two to start you off:

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/2485...
      http:/chowhound.chow.com/topics/441333#2946806

      Oh, and here's the link to Sietsema's tour of West African restaurants in the Bronx:

      http://www.villagevoice.com/2004-07-2...

      Finally, soon-to-be-reopened Korhogo 126 in Brooklyn has an Ivoirian chef who fuses French and African cuisine. Bon appetit.

      5 Replies
      1. re: famdoc

        A wonderful, small restaurant in Fort Greene called A Bistro serves food that is a fusion between Senegalese and French. It's BYOB, too. Creative, delicious food and a welcoming atmosphere. And be sure to try the desserts! Carlton Ave. between Myrtle and Willoughby.

        -----
        Abistro
        154 Carlton Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11205

        1. re: starfish

          i second a bistro. it's just a great place to be (and eat.)

          1. re: starfish

            mmmm, abistro... daydreaming about the trout.

            1. re: starfish

              I'm a big fan of A-Bistro. Bold and stand-out flavors - not sure about its authenticity but it was a great night out. And you can't beat a BYO joint for price.

            2. re: famdoc

              Papaye (183rd and Grand Concourse) and Ebe Ye Yie (Jerome Ave and 184th Street), as well as a large number of West African Markets (there is a new one at 188 and Webster Ave, one further north at Webster Ave and Bedford Park Boulevard and others dotting the GC) are all within walking distance of the 4 and D train stops at Fordham Rds.tilapia

              Both are very much worth the trip, but Papaye is outstanding. At Papaye, get fufu with tilapia and you will taste the fish like you never have before.

              http://turntableskillets.wordpress.com

              -----
              Ebe Ye Yie
              2364 Jerome Ave, Bronx, NY 10468

              Papaye
              2300 Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY 10458

            3. Has anyone eaten at the African restaurant (I think it's called something like African Grills and Soul Food) on Burnside and Davidson in the Bronx?

              7 Replies
              1. re: racer x

                I visited African Grill and Soul Food myself yesterday.

                Most of the customers, all of whom appeared to be African men (save one African woman), were ordering takeout from the steamtable, although there are a number of tables for dining in, three of which were occupied.

                A large flat-screen tv on the wall in the back showed what appeared to be an episode of an African soap opera; the sound from this program was carried on speakers throughout the dining area. A smaller flat screen up closer to the steam table was showing CNN, but the sound was not audible.

                The restaurant was very clean, but did not seem to be particularly new. I asked one of the friendly servers how long the restaurant had been there, but she was unsure, having only recently been hired herself. Regardless, the restaurant was very bright and, with its open steamtable, much more welcoming than some of the other West African restaurants I have been to in the Bronx and other boroughs in the past (where the food is served from behind thick bulletproof plastic barriers).

                The food is mainly Ghanaian. There were a number of stews on the steamtable, such as palmnut, egushie, and "light soup" (I confess I don't yet know what this one is -- please chime in if you do), as well as fried sweet plantains, blackeyed peas, jollof rice, various fried fishes, and fried Guinea fowl. Mounds of fufu and other West African starches in Saran wrap were also available. The menu also lists a number of other dishes, such as suya meat (African spices steak), lamb meat (chichiga) on a stick, kebab with pepper and onions, moi moi (black beans dumpling), abolou with fried fish and hot salsa pepper, rice ball polenta, eyon (with goat meat or cowfoot) pounded yam, amala, tuwon zafi (corn flour) polenta, ...

                I opted for wachei with gari and a beef stew, and okra stew over white rice. Both were very tasty and had me looking forward to trying some of the other dishes. The only quibble for the American palate might be that some of the beef bits were rather tough, but all the more authentic for it.

                Enough food to feed 3 or 4, all for about $14 with tax.

                2041 Davidson Ave (at Burnside), Bronx
                (718) 584-8300

                1. re: racer x

                  Could you tell us what "wachei with gari" is? Thanks! Nice report!

                  1. re: fredid

                    Wachei (perhaps more commonly spelled waakye) is a kind of rice and beans dish. The gari (or garri) was finely-ground powdery cassava.

                  2. re: racer x

                    any thoughts on this place (AG&SF), racer x, as to weekdays versus weekends, or lunch versus dinner? thinking to hit this on a thursday or friday night for dinner; wondering if some of the food will be run out by then. or . . . takeway as another option?

                    1. re: bigjeff

                      Bigjeff, I only went there once or twice two years ago, so I couldn't say. Who knows what the place is like today?
                      Most of the action was takeaway from the steam table, and I only visited in the evening (my post above was from a visit on a Thursday night).

                    2. re: racer x

                      hey racerx x;

                      this place (african grills and soul food) is now called Accra and I just ate there last week:
                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3737...

                      delicious!

                    3. re: racer x

                      thanks, sounds great (and very close to the 4 train). I'll hit this place up.

                    4. Le Grand Dakar and A Bistro are both fine options in Brooklyn. I've visited both on a number of occasions and have always enjoyed my meal. FYI - the service at Le Grand Dakar is pretty slow so only go if you have time on your hands.

                      -----
                      Le Grand Dakar
                      285 Grand Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238

                      Abistro
                      154 Carlton Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11205

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: chewbie

                        Chef @ Le Grand Dakar in Ft. Greene is from Senegal and his cuisine can be described as Senegalese-French fusion. Didn't experience any service problems when I was there and found the food delicious. Two members of our party had spent time in Senegal and thought the food was very authentic.

                        -----
                        Le Grand Dakar
                        285 Grand Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238

                      2. The food at Mariam's in Brooklyn used to be really good. Not much atmosphere in the restaurant, but good eats. However, on my last attempted foray there about 3 months ago, the place was closed. From yelp reviews, it looks like there's a new restaurant in operation on the premises called "Adama."

                        I've never been to Abistro, so no comment on how the food tastes. However, their menus from what I've seen online seem to have only the barest connection to traditional Senegalese-style food.

                        Glad to hear Le Grand Dakar is still popular. I haven't been back there in more than a year, after having had a very poorly cooked meal -- must have been a bad night.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: racer x

                          A new Senegalese spot named Aicha Restaurant opened a little over a month ago on Nostrand Avenue just south of Atlantic. Good food & friendly owners.

                          Always get the "Sauce Claire." It's fantastic. A thick tomato sauce with chunks of potatoes, carrots and a mix of fresh fish and guedge (a type of fermented fish). Kassava leaves and spinach both contain a beguiling combination of fish and beef.

                          I've been twice so far. My first plate included the Sauce Claire, and most everything else. If they've got it, grab a few chunks of the excellent charcoal grilled chicken. I also got mafe-- a peanut stew-- but I'm not much of a fan.

                          Despite my lack of knowledge of Senegalese cuisine, I will make one suggestion: Get the hot sauce. It's great. They'll warn you about the heat, but you'll gain the cooks' everlasting respect if you can handle it, and it sharpens the flavor of each dish (especially in the Sauce Claire). I'm ashamed admit that I stopped at the bodega next door for a mouth-cooling chocolate milk after my last lunch. Instead, next time I'll try the sweet thiakry, which is basically a couscous pudding.

                          Worth checking out.

                          -----
                          Aicha
                          602 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216

                          1. re: ChiefHDB

                            You got fish in your cassava leaves? I'm jealous... mine just seemed to have beef. ;)

                            Seriously, Aicha is a pretty good spot. They didn't have sauce claire when I went (at least not at the moment I loaded up my plate), but the okra, cassava leaf dishes, and stewed chicken were all fantastic. I've had better mafe (peanut/groundnut stew) elsewhere, though--Abidjan in Bushwick is a favorite.

                            Aicha is also insanely cheap--I think I paid $4.38 for my entire meal. Good stuff.

                            -----
                            Aicha
                            602 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216

                            Abidjan
                            1136 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11221

                            1. re: UnitedNationsOfFood

                              Yeah, I must have gotten way more food than you, since I managed to spend $10 my first time and $7 the second (with a drink too).

                              Seems like they add whatever protein they have on hand each day. There was another dish, whose name I forget, that was chicken the first time and beef the second. I think that was the case with the vegetables too.

                              There's another Senegalese place on Fulton and Bedford that I haven't tried yet. Similar setup as Aicha. Anyone been?

                              -----
                              Aicha
                              602 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216

                              1. re: ChiefHDB

                                I love that Aicha is a little bit random and spontaneous with their food from day to day. I think that's a good sign that somebody is having some fun in the kitchen.

                                I'm definitely guilty as charged on the quantity, though: I didn't fill my plate up as much as I normally would. I was actually on my way to another restaurant on Nostrand, and stopped for a pre-meal meal, just because I was curious to try Aicha. The $4.38 plate actually filled me up pretty decently, though...

                                -----
                                Aicha
                                602 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216

                                1. re: UnitedNationsOfFood

                                  Unfortunately, I think Aicha may have closed. It was shuttered the last 2 times I walked by. Need to check again soon to know for sure...

                                  -----
                                  Aicha
                                  602 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216

                                  1. re: ChiefHDB

                                    Nooooooo! That makes me sad... though I'm partly to blame, since I haven't eaten there since spring, either. Let us know if you see any signs of life on your next trek out there.

                                    1. re: UnitedNationsOfFood

                                      Forgot to update this. Yup-- Aicha is definitely gone for good.

                                      -----
                                      Aicha
                                      602 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216

                              2. re: UnitedNationsOfFood

                                Fresh report from Sietsema on Abidjan ... http://ny.eater.com/archives/2014/06/...

                          2. For turbo yummy South African food, my favorite in Madiba in Ft Greene. HANDS DOWN! I love to have brunch there (terrific bloody marys!) and then hit up the Brooklyn Flea on Saturdays in the summer.

                            -----
                            Madiba
                            195 Dekalb Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11205

                            Brooklyn Flea
                            176 Lafayette Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: CldSkndNdle

                              Maybe brunch is better, but I had a pretty crappy experience at Madiba... I thought the food was mediocre and massively overpriced for what it was. Tried pap and boerwoers, thought it was pretty OK, but not amazing; the bobotie sounded great, but was dry and lifeless. And tiny. I cleaned my plate, and still left hungry. Not cool for $16.

                              -----
                              Madiba
                              195 Dekalb Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11205

                              1. re: UnitedNationsOfFood

                                That was my take on Madiba, as well. But I haven't been there in a few years now.

                                1. re: racer x

                                  ditto, charming but the food wasnt worth it (few years back)

                                  1. re: jen kalb

                                    went last year during world cup and totally agree. wanted to love it, place is charming, but food is mediocre and overpriced. however, i get the sense that people don't really go there for the food--at least, the friends that took us didn't.

                                    tho I could see how brunch would be fine (tho not outstanding)--it's a completely different meal with different expectations and a different price point.

                            2. Madiba in Fort Greene.

                              There is supposed to be a really good Ethiopian restaurant in Fort Greene too.

                              -----
                              Madiba
                              195 Dekalb Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11205

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: sushiman

                                I have yet to read anything to convince me that the food at Madiba--as opposed to the excellent drinks and staff--has improved over the years.

                                The Ethiopian restaurant in FG, Bati, is okay if you absolutely need a local injera fix--and sometimes that's exactly what I need-- but I don't find it much better than that. There's not a lot of depth to most of the cooking. But then, I find that true of much of the Ethiopian in NYC, with the occasional exception of the Awash branch on Amsterdam/106th, which sometimes can really be great (and other times be fine but unexceptional). To be fair, haven't eaten at QOS in a very, very long time.

                                -----
                                Bati
                                747 Fulton St, Brooklyn, NY 11217

                              2. Since this is a revived, and somewhat wide ranging thread, I'll throw in my recommendation for Buka, a Nigerian place on Fulton near Grand or Classon (I think). Very cute place -- suitable for a date night -- friendly staff, cheap prices, and a pretty wide range of Nigerian food. I'm not at all familiar with these dishes, so don't have a benchmark for judging them. But we had a very good goat and black pepper soup, and some good sauces for dipping fufu. Worth giving a try.

                                -----
                                Buka
                                946 Fulton St, Brooklyn, NY 11238

                                1. Fatima, a Guinean-owned place on Franklin in Crown Heights, is also pretty spectacular. I have a mild obsession with their acheke and baked fish, served with an amazing, spicy onion sauce. Seems to draw a crowd of really nice, friendly people, too.

                                  An unnecessarily long-winded description of my first visit to Fatima can be found here: http://www.unitednationsoffood.com/20....

                                  -----
                                  Fatima
                                  789 Franklin Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238

                                  11 Replies
                                  1. re: UnitedNationsOfFood

                                    Is Fatima still open? Need to check it out.

                                    1. re: NewYorkNewHaven

                                      I walked past Fatima about a month ago, noticed that it was still open, drooled all over my shirt, and then kept walking... had lunch plans elsewhere in Crown Heights that day. So unless they closed in the last few weeks, you're good. Let us know what you think!

                                      1. re: UnitedNationsOfFood

                                        Checked out Fatima today. The place was pretty, particularly shabby with the typical dim lighting and Spartan design of West African joints. I didn't have much cash, so I stuck to a main stay (though that fish looked damnnn good): peanut butter stew from the steam table. I thought this was a pretty good rendition: creamier and more rounded then other versions I've had at Ghanaian restaurants. It was loaded with palm oil (love that red ring) and was served with chunks of greyish, somewhat bland beef--less of a win.

                                        Looking forward to trying their other dishes. Still, I recommend striking north for the Boogie Down!

                                        1. re: NewYorkNewHaven

                                          was looking for an african restaurant near Brooklyn Museum and stumbled upon this thread. Fatima is now closed :(

                                          There's now an Awash on Court St in Carroll Gardens, which is always a good Ethiopian fix.

                                          I'd been to South Africa twice and can honestly say Madiba is not very good - my South Africa expat friends concur. Braai, on 51st St in Manhattan is definitely much better. Their boerewors is great, as are their desserts. My only caveat is the ostrich - i didn't find their way of serving as a fillet very tasty.

                                          1. re: waxyjax

                                            Yeah, Madiba is ... disappointing. I really liked Bunny Chow on the LES, but I went early and apparently it went downhill quickly before it closed. (I'm dying for a quarter mutton.)

                                            While Jack's Wife Frida has some SA-leaning items (peri peri giblets, a vaguely Nando's-style sandwich), there's not much else SA in NYC.

                                            I have been meaning to try Kaia Wine Bar, which does have bunny chow and other more traditional SA items on the menu http://www.kaiawinebar.com/index.php/...

                                            Lastly, Meat Hook in Williamsburg makes boerwoers every once in a while -- I've never caught them fresh, only when they've been moved to the freezer, so I haven't purchased them. But someday I'll catch them and give 'em a shot.

                                            1. re: lambretta76

                                              lambretta - have you tried Braai? It's pretty good. Haven't tried Kaia yet though.

                                              by the way everyone, i just happened to pass by Fatima - and it actually is open! sorry, Yelp had listed it as closed - weird.

                                              1. re: lambretta76

                                                I don't mean to pile on to Madiba... but I'm going to. Twice in the last year DGF and I have tried to go to Madiba. Both times it seemed *moderately* busy, but not crazed. And we stood there. And stood there. And stood there. Staff walked by, seeming to avert their eyes. (Maybe I'm embellishing the averted eyes...)

                                                This happened twice, the exact same thing. Maybe there's some procedural error we're not aware of. It just seemed very strange that no one even acknowledged that we were standing there trying to catch someone's eye for 5-10 minutes.

                                                Both times we walked out and went elsewhere. I guess we made the right choice. I have friends who lived in the area about 10 years ago, and they always raved about Madiba. We don't live in Fort Greene, and don't get over there very often. Even before reading this, I'd given up on trying it.

                                                1. re: egit

                                                  For what it's worth, my wife is a recent transplant from South Africa and adores the food at Madiba.

                                                  According to her everything she had was authentic and comparable to most home-cooked fare from back home with the exception of the vetkoek (fried dough) which she said was "good but not great".

                                                  While I'm not the authority she is, and do feel it doesn't measure up to Joubert's in SF, I have to agree that it's true to most of what I had when living in Johannesburg myself.

                                                  While Braai in the city is far more likely to appeal to western palates and sensibilities, it was far less in line with the actual food I ate most places in South Africa.

                                                  All of that said, I must also admit that traditional South African food is simply not something I was much impressed with even in Johannesburg. The one exception being Cape Malay cuisine specifically, which is not something Madiba, Braai, or any NY based restaurant I know of really excels in.

                                                  1. re: NuMystic

                                                    i'm not knocking your wife's taste in food - but wanted to point out the contrast to that of the opinions of friends of mine who don't at all like Madiba and do prefer Braai...some of these friends are South African, others have spent a few years there. I've been twice to Cape Town and also spent 5 weeks traveling all over Johannesburg and up the coast to the Transkei.

                                                    but it is true that South Africa itself has a very wide spectrum of quality and styles of food. perhaps the places i enjoyed while visiting were geared toward foreign palates...and maybe that's what my friends also enjoy. who knows. i did feel the flavors at Braai more closely matched what i experienced at what i felt were legit places - down to earth spots in not-so-touristy areas like Port Elizabeth or the Transkei...although Braai's ostrich and their boerewors sausage kinda sucks - and maybe that's what she tried there?

                                                    Agree, Cape Malay is the most exciting stuff in South Africa and should definitely be better represented in NYC!

                                                  2. re: egit

                                                    service is going to be slow at any african restaurant. that's how it's done there, and if it's an authentic place with actual transplants doing the cooking (or anything else), that's how it'll be. le toukeleur went out of business for that reason, and i'm willing to bet that abistro did too.

                                                    1. re: egit

                                                      This is accurate. The service there is just not that great, though I wouldn't characterize it as surly or hostile.

                                        2. Le Dakar was closed when I walked by the other day. Papaye on the Grand Concourse is good.

                                          1. I'm not sure it's great, but Meytex Cafe in Prospect Lefferts Gardens is very good, interesting and fun. The availability of menu items can be hit or miss.

                                            1. One of the best I have visited several times last year is Uptown Africa, easiest from 174 on the 4 train.

                                              Ghana cooking, and really good.

                                              (Uptown Africa 13 E 175th St Bronx, NY).