Where To Get Food From The African Diaspora In Philly

Jollof rice, cornbread, and everything in between.

Philly's African, Afro-Latinx, Afro-Caribbean, and Southern restaurants showcase the links within African diasporic cultures and honor distinct traditions. But the food from the African diaspora also plays a key role in bringing Philadelphians together, whether you've got a friend who keeps a mac and cheese recipe on lockdown like it's Rihanna’s next album, or the only way your family gets through a cold night is by making a bowl of fish tea. Head to one of these 17 restaurants to see that interconnectedness in action, and to eat something that will be the highlight of your week.


West African

Northern Liberties

$$$$Perfect For:Quick EatsQuiet Meals
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As soon as you walk into this counter-service West African spot in Northern Liberties, you’ll get thumped with the scent of steaming jollof rice, plantains fresh out of the pot, buttery cornbread muffins, and chicken sizzling on the grill. It’s a sensation that we can’t put a price on—but they have, and it’s notably affordable (bowls cost around $13, and each one comes with a side). Come to Suya Suya for a quick meal before catching a train from the Spring Garden station, or if you want to pick up something for a Spades-filled game night.

photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO



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This Afrocentric grocery store and all-day cafe in West Philly sources as many products from Black farmers as possible, including the ingredients for Haitian-inspired tasso ham and pulled griyo sandwiches, spicy West Indian patties, and plantain snack cakes. If you're just getting one thing on the menu, go for the Dolla Hoagie. The benne seeds on the roll give each turkey-filled bite a bit of earthiness. Stop by the casual shop for something before your morning commute or after a walk in Malcolm X Park. Or book a spot at one of their $95 tasting-menu dinners in the shop for a special night out.

Stop by this Trini bakery in West Philly around noon, and you may find that the rest of the neighborhood has beaten you to all the flaky beef patties in the display case. Don't let this happen. (If it does, Brown Sugar also makes great, thin-crusted chicken curry patties as well as slightly sweet coconut rolls.) Head here when you want saltfish for breakfast, or on a Saturday for weekend-only doubles and curry goat platters.

The crowd outside of Southwest Philly’s Kingston 11 may be bigger than any dance floor when “Candy” by Cameo drops at a wedding. When you do get to the counter, though, make sure you grab an order of oxtails and a side of mac and cheese. The oxtails have a bit of sweetness from the tamarind and a flicker of tanginess from the pimento berries, thyme sticks, and ginger they’re cooked in. As for the mac and cheese, it’s flowing with six mystery cheeses that we’re making it our life mission to uncover. Until then, we can tell you that this dish is creamy, smooth, and has us crossing a few parkways whenever we want some.  

For the picky eaters, we want you to know you're in good hands at Jamaican D’s. And even though the wait at this Chelten Ave. spot can get longer than a braiding shop on a busy day, a platter of jerk chicken, rice and peas, and cabbage is worth sticking around to eat. Plus, once you’ve ordered, they’re quick, so you don’t have to wait too long before biting into their chicken that’s dripping with jerk sauce. And to cool your mouth down, get their cinnamony sweet potatoes. They’re mashed, and after your first pillowy spoonful, you won’t want to eat anything else.

We’re pretty much going steady with Doro Bet on Baltimore Avenue. The Sami Dan music they play has infiltrated our dreams, the bright wall covered in African art is now our lock screen, and we’re thinking of proposing to the chefs after eating a plate of doro wot. This Ethiopian spot serves pillowy mac and cheese, smothered wings, and teff flour fried chicken. It’s a great option for a quick lunch or casual weeknight meal when we’re craving peppery stewed chicken that falls off the bone.

Good, slow-roasted pernil, and what's almost certainly the highest concentration of Puerto Rican flags in one Philly restaurant—that's Boricua 2 in Port Richmond, the larger sibling of the original Boricua in Northern Liberties. There's plenty of room inside to eat solid Puerto Rican classics like mofongo, beef and chicken turnovers, and pollo guisado. And while you're hanging out, you'll probably hear laughter from the kitchen and see the staff ask about the family members of at least four people who walk inside. Order your dish as a platter, that way it'll come with sides like evenly seasoned beans or thinly sliced plantains.

This neighborhood African spot on Lancaster Ave. has a menu with everything from egusi soup to jollof rice. But when we pull up to one of their red booths or take something home (and sneak bites between stop signs), we go with their beef in spicy red sauce. It’s a chunky mix of red peppers, habanero, curry, and tomato that you should order with a side of their softball-sized banku. Make sure you get a nice portion of cassava in each bite, as it adds a little sweetness to the roasted beef and mildly spicy stew.

One tear into the island wings at 48th Street Grille has us feeling better than the first time we look in the mirror after a fresh cut—the wings come in an order of 10 and have a smoky, charred taste highlighted by the orangey glaze. And they aren’t the only shareable thing on the Caribbean spot’s menu. The West Philly restaurant has braised oxtails and curried goat that can be passed around the table with a big group, and they even have a catering menu that’s longer than an Acme receipt for special occasions.

Abyssinia on 45th Street serves reliably good Ethiopian platters. Their stewed lentils, oniony sauteed greens, spicy beef tibs, and warm injera on their own are great, but when you want a big spread, go for the Abyssinia Special 1 combination platter. It costs around $20, it's large enough for two people, and the peppery berbere kick has us thinking about it late at night (oh, also, they’re open until 2am).

Sometimes you start planning your day around your next sip of sopa de camarones, or catch yourself thinking about biting into a slab of seasoned yuca at a red light. Mixto, a Washington Square Pan-Latin and Caribbean spot, has us daydreaming about both these dishes, as well as a maduro relleno stuffed with spiced Cuban-style beef and then coated with a layer of gooey mozzarella. This is also a great place to grab a drink and watch a game, since they have a big bar with a TV. 

Spring Garden’s South is the place to go when you want to try some catfish that’s as good as the live jazz coming from the stage. Out of all the Cajun and Creole dishes we eat while singing along to Sade, though, the buttermilk fried chicken is our favorite. The three pieces of chicken have a honey drizzle and come with creamy turkey collards, doughy drop biscuits, and a sweet and silky potato gratin. Head here on a date night when you want something more than dinner and a Spotify playlist. Even if things go bad, you'll still have some good food.

With seafood mac and cheese, blackened catfish, and stewed collard greens swimming alongside shreds of smoked turkey, this Baltimore Ave. spot cooks up a dinner spread significantly better than your cousin’s Thanksgiving spread. But for us, a trip to the Southern-inspired restaurant usually happens during their daily brunch (which runs from 10am-2:15pm). The creamy shrimp and grits, which come with spicy and nutty etouffee sauce, a sunny-side-up egg, and a bunch of shrimp, make for one of the best brunch situations in the city.

Like Philly Elmo or Iverson, the curry goat at Irie deserves the next shoutout on Abbott Elementary. The tender cubes of lamb come floating in curry sauce that’s oniony, peppery, and has a subtle ginger flavor. The portions are also so big that you can expect every main and side dish to spill over the edges inside of the takeout tray (they don’t have a dine-in option). But we’re not complaining—a curry goat, jerk chicken, mac and cheese, or rice mashup might be the greatest Philly combination since an open parking spot and a lawn chair. 

With island art on the wall, hanging chandeliers, and mannequins decked out in Trini carnival costumes, you would think Flambo is putting on a production you might find across the street at The Met. But unlike the opera house, you won’t have to keep reloading the Ticketmaster page to get your hands on an order of blackened shrimp sauteed in a buttery peppery sauce and stewed chicken drenched in a tomato sauce—they’re pretty open when it comes to reservations. When you stop by, go for the curry chicken dhalpuri. The takari dish wraps strips of chicken, chickpeas, and onions in a warm flatbread.

Parada Maimon can be a little inconsistent. Sometimes we stop by and are met by closed doors during their open hours or can’t get a call through on their phones. But when you’re lucky enough to get an order of their deep-fried red snapper, plantains, yellow rice and beans, and fresh-squeezed mango juice, it’s always worth the effort. The breading on the fish has a great crunch, not to mention the batter has a ton of fiery peppers mixed in—so you might need to have one of those juices, by the gallon, on standby.

If you want to eat Haitian food that’s tasty but also bound to have you reaching for a blanket and pillow after your last bite, head to Lawndale’s Fritay Lakay. Open as early as 8:30am daily, start your day with a plantain porridge, a yam mash mixed with nuts and dried fruit, or breakfast spaghetti that tosses in bell peppers, onions, and sausage in a tomato sauce. On days where it’s cold enough that you’d need Gritty’s fur to keep you warm, go for the bouillon. It’s a stew that blends thick cuts of beef with carrots, noodles, plantains, and a broth that’ll fill you with more warmth than that blanket and pillow combo ever could. 

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