Like whistle tones in an Ariana Grande song, West African restaurants are a staple in Brooklyn’s restaurant scene. But if you’re specifically in the mood for Senegalese dishes like chicken yassa or thieboudienne, this guide has five of our favorite spots where you can find them in the borough. Some of these restaurants work best for a date night with someone who doesn’t mind getting up close and personal with an onion breath cutie like yourself. Others are casual enough for a weeknight dinner on a sidewalk patio or on your TV dinner tray at home. But they all serve the kind of excellent Senegalese food that’ll have you singing chart-topping ballads about peanuts sauce.
Le Baobab Gouygi 2
The second location of Le Baobab, one of the best Senegalese restaurants in Harlem, is a great place to pick up lamb and fish in okra-thickened palm oil sauce, fish balls stewed in tomato sauce, and more. The one dish that you need to prioritize, though, is lamb mafe, which has a ton of peanut butter flavor, along with the smokiness of a chargrilled lamb chop. We also love their thieboudienne for its crispy, salty skin, and their tender chicken yassa smothered in a lemony, onion-heavy sauce. There isn’t much room to sit down inside, so we suggest grabbing a to-go order and walking over to Herbert Van King Park for a picnic.
Cafe Rue Dix is where you should meet friends for dinner and drinks before a night out in Crown Heights. This French-Senegalese spot is covered in West African masks, the bar is painted with geometric patterns that look like Senegalese textiles, and loud afrobeat music is always playing. It’ll be hard to not dance a little while you order the nutty and creamy beef mafe or crunchy whole branzino.
If you’re looking for a spot to eat mafe yapp, dibbi, and beignets while hanging out with a friend or two in Bed-Stuy, check out Joloff. The mural-covered restaurant sits on the quieter end of Bedford Avenue just south of Fulton Street with a big sidewalk patio, and we can’t think of a better place to people-watch in the neighborhood when its nice out. You can’t go wrong with any of the lamb dishes on the menu here, and don’t forget to order some fried yuca on the side.
Park Slope’s Le Succulent isn’t exclusively a Senegalese restaurant. They actually serve a bunch of different Afro-French dishes like chicken alloco, salt codfish fritters, and a whole braised fish with a side of joloff rice. But when it comes to Senegalese chicken yassa, Le Succulent is one of the best places in the borough to eat this braised chicken dish that’s tossed in caramelized onion. The juicy meat dish tastes like it’s been swimming in a pool of its own fatty liquids for days, and we like to use all of the rice on the side to sop up every last drop of chicken jus on the plate. Come here for a big night out with someone who likes moist meat, crispy fish, fluffy rice, and talking lovingly about all three of those things at a dinner table.
Le Paris Dakar (Atlantic Av)
There are two locations of Le Paris Dekar in Brooklyn, and they just so happen to be right around the corner from one another in Bed-Stuy. When you’re in the mood for a salmon, cream cheese, spinach, and capers crepe, fresh hibiscus juice, or a breakfast sandwich, this French-Senegalese cafe is one of the best options in the neighborhood. The location on Bedford is the best place to sit outside and people-watch, while the location on Fulton is much less busy and easier to stop in for a quick meal on your lunch break. It’s a fun bistro in the neighborhood that works well for brunch on weekends, breakfast on weekdays, and all of the daytime meals in between.