Have out of town guests Dec. 26 -27th - they gave me a list of different cuisines = South African being one of them - I've never had South African - any suggestions?
Gigi is well informed! I only know of three S. African places in NYC: the two Manhattan restaurants that Gigi mentioned in her post, which share the same ownership, and one in Brooklyn (Madiba).
Both Xai Xai and Braii have good wine lists and so-so food and both are probably somewhat overpriced for what they are. Xai Xai has a limited selection of small plates, simpler preparations than what you'll find at Braii. (The most distinctively S. African item on the menu is probably the Kalahari Plate, which includes biltong, droë wors, dried fruits and mixed nuts. They also used to have good boerwors, but I don't see them on the current menu.) Braii has a much more extensive, meat-heavy menu with some competent skewered / grilled meats, boerwors and other sausages, and Asian/Indian-S. African offerings (like biryani, samosa, etc...).
Xai Xai is a lovely, laid-back place to sit and watch the world go by when the weather is nice and the front windows are all thrown open.... but probably that won't be happening in December. :)
Oh, a word on the dates: I'd call ahead and make sure that the place(s) you choose plan on being open on the 26th and 27th.
cimiu, I agree that both Xai Xai and braii are over priced. I recall that cocktails were especially expensive. The wine, however, was wll worth it.
I only recommend Braii to people who are very adventurous eaters. I myself didn't enjoy the ostrich or venison dishes. Friends who had the seafood liked the ostrich in particular, but didn't like their seafood and rice dishes (something akin to paella). Dessert was also quite good, IIRC. The place is also incredibly dark.
Xai Xai, on the other hand is more up my alley. It's a pretty nice wine bar with a good atmosphere.
Calconscious, I have not been to any of the 3 SA restaurants in NYC, so can't directly comment on them, but whichever you do decide on, do not be disturbed by dishes that have "monkey gland sauce". It's a sweet sauce, often served on a burger, completely devoid of monkey glands of any type! I would also suggest trying something with Piri Piri - a wonderful spicy sauce made from birdseye chili, and very very South African.