If there’s one thing I love to do, its have a good meal with friends and debate African issues over jollof rice, Injera and some delicious Vinegar fries(not in one meal ofcourse). Having friends from so many different African countries has allowed my tastebuds to explore different foods and living in New York which is so cosmopolitan has expanded my options for where to eat African food.
I thought I’d share my two favorite restaurants in NYC and provide a few more African Inspired food options.
Madiba is a favorite of many Southern Africans and lovers of South African food. You can enjoy vinegar fries (my fave),samoosas (which are served with sides of marmalade and meat) and their drink menu includes a drink called “Sophiatown” which is a famous township that housed many creative artists and activists during the Apartheid era in South Africa. In the summer, Madiba has guests performers and you can people watch as you eat as they have seats outside. They have a little “tuck shop” as well where they sell spices and goodies like Weetabix in case you miss the taste of “home”.
QUEEN OF SHEBA (Ethiopian Restaurant)
I took my parents and sisters to Queen of Sheba three years ago to an event that was held there in conjunction with The Museum for African Art. I spent four years in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and fell in love with Injera so much that my friends and I ate it for lunch at school every day. I went there once again after with my family ,and I paid a visit there just this past week. I suggested that we go eat Injera so I could introduce it to Washington Roberts as he is showing at the Hub of Ethiopia fashion week in April,so what better way to get himself prepared than to eat Injera? My best friend Mwabange also joined us as we went to high school together in Addis and he hadn’t eaten Injera since leaving in 2008. Marie came as well because she loves Injera too. If you’re new to Injera,you may think it’s really sour,but once you acquire a taste,you’ll love it! My favorite dish is Quanta Fir Fir.They have a good selection of South African wines as well and please try the Ethiopian Spicy Tea for desert.Its sooo good!
OTHER RESTAURANTS TO CHECK OUT OUTSIDE NYC
I’ve heard great things about Swahili Village which serves Kenyan food in Baltimore, Maryland. I will be sure to make my way there the next time i’m in town.Try Nyamachoma and Chapati if you check it out. Nandos also has a branch there.Their peri peri chicken is to die for as well as the Lemon Herb Chicken.It’s really popular in my country too and one of the first things my sister and I did when we landed in Lusaka in 2010 was to go to Nandoos. Speaking of Nandos,did you watch this video Ad they did called the ‘Last Dictators‘ which featured Gadaffi, Mugabe and Hussein? It was eventually pulled by the company and created a lot of stir online.
If you’re still looking for more restaurants, to check out, here’s a video from CNN Inside Africa spotlighting Buka which is a popular Nigerian restaurant in Brooklyn, Jollof which is Senegalese spot also in Brooklyn and more. Here’s an interesting article on an Egyptian maid turned TV chef via CNN.
Lookout for African food Inspired events in your city. Last year, there was an African Food Festival held in conjunction with the Musuem for African Art (sad I missed it and hope it is held this year). I did attend a Street Food Pop up Festival during Fashion Night Out last year which featured Injera made by celebrity Ethiopian chef Marcus Samuelson who owns a Restaurant in Harlem called Red Rooster. Or buy a cookbook like the one recently released by Nelson Mandela’s long time chef and features the former president’s favorite dishes.There is a monthly event for the Taste of Africa series in NYC by Panla which usually includes African music. You can also pick up a copy of ” A Taste of Africa and the Caribbean” which is a booklet produced by Afrocarib marketing group and is a guide to lots of African and Caribbean restaurants in NYC.
I stumbled upon a project called the Afropolitan Chef which is hosted by Yetunde of Icy PR that you may be interested in checking out. I also like this search for the perfect Afropolitan cocktail.Food is what inspired my friend Mohamed Dione who is an actor,model,director and owner of his own film production company to make the film Maffe Tiaga which will premiere early this year. I cant wait to see it. The trailer is below.
What is you guys favorite African food and what are your favorite African restaurants? Do tell.