I love to eat at African restaurants so I thought I’d tell you about a couple of my New York favorites.
Madiba (195 Dekalb Ave; 718.855.9190) in Fort Greene is a longstanding favorite, a convivial South African spot with wooden benches, colorful paintings and quirky folk art. I’ve been going there since it first opened in the late 1990s in a tiny front room that now houses the bar. The owner has since moved to Miami and opened a South Beach branch of Madiba. More recently, the Brooklyn flagship updated its menu. Apart from curry and stew mainstays, offbeat food options include ostrich carpaccio and prawns peri-peri. If entrails are your thing, don’t skip their spicy chicken livers. I was at Madiba the night before the inauguration and the party was on, with live music and lots of people celebrating.
A couple of months ago, I fell in love with A Bistro (154 Carlton Ave, 718.855.9455; closed Mondays), an intimate Senegalese spot where the ambiance is down-home and communal and the food a real pleasure to your taste buds. The actual menu is small but the daily specials are extensive and include a lot of great fish options and mouthwatering desserts (don’t skip their banana shortcake!). The portions are on the small side but the interesting flavors make up for that. The only thing is: the restaurant is BYOB so make sure you pick up a bottle of wine or some beer along the way. They do have great and quite unusual juices, served warm or cold.
When I have a craving for Ethiopian, I usually head to the downtown branch of Awash in the East Village (338 East 6th Street; 212.982.9589). The food served here is great for sharing – the combo dishes are best, all served with the spongy injera bread. The decor is nothing to write home about but the atmosphere is low-key and unpretentious. And it’s so much fun to eat with your hands! Plus I really like the sweet Ethiopian honey wine they serve. The uptown branch (947 Amsterdam Avenue; 212.961.1416) is apparently worth trying too, if you’re in that neck of the woods.