Spanning countries like Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal, the West African region offers an array of cultural cuisine that has inspired Caribbean and American soul food dishes today. Platters usually contain a foundation of starches — fluffy jollof rice, acheke, couscous or fufu — alongside stews, soups and whole grilled fish.
In Philadelphia, West African immigrants have established neighborhood blocks full of cafes, take-out spots and grocery stores. Read on for the best places for authentic West African eats in Philly.
Pro tip: Be sure to bring cash, as many of the restaurants below don’t accept credit cards.
Probably the most popular and widely known West African restaurant in the city, this Senegalese spot is best known for its Dibi dishes (roasted meat — usually lamb or chicken — chopped in small pieces and thoroughly spiced), grilled fish and fresh hibiscus ginger juice. Large portions satisfy big eaters and happy sharers.
Where: Kilimandjaro, 4317 Chestnut Street
Hearty lamb dishes, vegetarian yassa and fresh ginger juices are only some of the offerings at Kilimandjaro’s sister restaurant. The atmosphere is casual, and diners enjoy catching up with the staff and other customers while sitting in one of the restaurant’s multiple armchairs.
Where: Youma African Cuisine, 4519 Baltimore Avenue
Customers love this Malian spot’s fresh ingredients and affordable prices. Grilled fish is a favorite with regulars here, as are the delicious lamb dibi and acheke (a side dish made from shaved cassava).
Where: Bintou, 6515 Elmwood Avenue
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A post shared by Amadou (@darealtwin_94) on Oct 23, 2016 at 6:59pm PDT
The 6000 blocks of Woodland Avenue could fairly be called Little Africa. Multiple take-out spots, restaurants and stores carrying African grocery staples are located throughout this Southwest Philly neighborhood. African Small Pot is one example, owned by Abdarahmane Diop from Mauritania. Diop is a trained gourmet chef and serves a mix of West African- and other African-inspired seafood and kebabs.
Where: African Small Pot, 6505 Woodland Avenue
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A post shared by mzizi.media.™ (@mzizi_media) on Mar 6, 2018 at 10:19am PST
The menu at Le Mandingue reflects the diversity of its chefs, who come from all over West Africa, including Nigeria, Liberia, Guinea and the Ivory Coast. Specials are offered every day, and vegetarian substitutes are available for the entire menu. Lamb and attieke, jollof rice and salad with fish are only a few of the select dishes, and there’s always live music at the venue. The eatery was even featured in an episode of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern on Food Network.
Where: Le Mandingue, 6620 Woodland Avenue
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A post shared by Syreeta (Sa-Ree-Ta) (@sincerelysyreeta) on Mar 9, 2016 at 2:15pm PST
Wazobia serves authentic Naija (Nigerian) food, as evidenced by the Nigerian weddings and events the restaurant caters throughout the region. Amala (a mashed paste of yam) and fufu (another paste made of cassava and plantain flour) are both available here, along with vegetable stews and soups.
Where: Wazobia, 616 N. 11th Street
Emma runs the counter window in this intimate neighborhood spot, with a full menu of West African and Caribbean platters. Emma’s wedding announcement is displayed in the takeout window and customers exchange banter while waiting for takeout or dining in with the local news. A dish like tender meat in spicy cassava red gravy is only one of the spot’s menu highlights.
Where: Emma's Liberian Kitchen, 7201 Woodland Avenue
Within the orange walls of Angie’s Kitchen, patrons enjoy upbeat music and a daily menu of Liberian specialties, including sweet and moist plantains, flavorful rice and whole fried fish. The portions are generous, so be sure to arrive ready to eat.
Where: Angie's Kitchen, 618 S. 52nd Street
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A post shared by Kings & Queens LiberianCuisine (@kingsandqueenslc) on Aug 29, 2014 at 11:00am PDT
Kings and Queens Liberian Cuisine offers a mix of traditional Ghanaian, Liberian and Nigerian platters and even features a vegan dish of palm oil potato greens. The restaurant’s most popular orders? Whole tilapia and jollof rice.
Where: Kings and Queens Liberian Cuisine, 107 Fairfield Avenue, Upper Darby
This family-owned Malian restaurant is also a big part of the West African community in Philadelphia, catering special events and cooking African, African-American and Caribbean foods.
Where: Le Nile African Restaurant, 6735 Elmwood Avenue
Mafe (a dish of tender pieces of lamb in a peanut butter sauce) is one of Goree’s signature dishes. The restaurant proudly offers Halal food, made fresh and cooked to order. The large menu also contains soul food dishes and plenty of fresh juices.
Where: Goree, 5514 Rising Sun Avenue
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