By Dana Givens

The African continent is home to myriad cuisines, and across the five boroughs, you can find restaurants that celebrate those many different culinary traditions. At these third places, or community anchors, you might feel like you are in the streets of Dakar, Senegal, or Lagos, Nigeria, especially after tasting their homestyle dishes, often made with imported spices and herbs and appealing to visitors, New Yorkers, and immigrants alike. These aren’t just places for eating – they are cultural hubs for communities to interact and connect over a shared experience and refuges for members of the African diaspora.

Here are a few of those restaurants worth seeking out and savoring.


West Harlem

In the heart of the West Harlem strip known as Le Petit Senegal is Pikine, one of the neighborhood’s most popular Senegalese restaurants. With its bright walls and intimate setting – there are only approximately 10 tables at any one time – Pikine carries on a family tradition for owner Amadou Ba.

“I was born into this business,” Ba says. “My father owned four [restaurants] in Africa. When he passed away 10 years ago, I said I’m going back into the restaurant business because I love it so much. We’ve got a lot of support from the community; they come from the [nearby] synagogue, and you’ve got [people from countries like] Mali and Nigeria – the whole African community supporting and then people from here [in the community], too. So many different people come together here for Senegalese food.”

What to order: Start with the national dish of the country, called thiebou djeun, a savory red fish stew filled with ingredients like cassava, eggplants, and white cabbage over rice. But don’t miss the traditional grilled dibi chicken.

Walk-ins only. 

Safari Harlem

West Harlem

Amongst the scattered restaurants in Harlem that are focused on West African cuisine,  Safari stands out as one of the only Somali restaurants in New York City and is run by Mona Birjeeb along with her husband and children.

“Somali food is full of flavors and spices, but not spicy or hot,” says Birjeeb. “Somali cuisine is aromatic and fragrant, and we use cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves to spice our rice and other meals. Hence, there is a whole new feeling to it when you eat our food.”

Do note that seating can be limited here; the restaurant only has two tables with an outdoor seating area during the summer months.

What to order: Hilib ari. “The roasted goat is our most popular Safari and Somali dish,” says Birjeeb. “People love hilib ari, and when we run out, customers ask if they can wait and how long it’s going to take, and we tell the customers it takes at least four hours to prepare this dish.”

Walk-ins only. 

Voila Afrique

Midtown East

Voila Afrique in Midtown East stands out, and that’s by design. Chef and owner Margaret Duncan wanted to make a statement by opening a restaurant in the very center of Manhattan that serves homestyle West African foods.

Though Voila Afrique does a healthy takeout business, there is one small table where regulars can eat on the go and enjoy food with a sense of community in a neighborhood where West African food is hard to come by.

“Because whenever you [think of] a place to eat, in most places in [Midtown] Manhattan, you’re talking about a very Western culture [when it comes to restaurants],” Duncan explains. “We really wanted to break through the cuisine culture of Manhattan to make a big difference and to give people more options.”

What to order: “Everyone wants jollof rice,” she laughs. “The next most popular dish is egusi soup and pounded yam or fufu.”

Walk-ins only. 

TATIANA, By Kwame Onwuachi

Lincoln Center

It’s “a lot of Afro Caribbean influence with the New York undertone,” chef Kwame Onwuachi says of the menu at this sleek Lincoln Center restaurant named for his sister. Located inside David Geffen Hall, the restaurant is just steps away from Alice Tully Hall, the Lincoln Center Theater, the Metropolitan Opera House, and the David H. Koch Theater, not to mention a short cab ride away from the bright lights of Broadway, too. Onwuachi, a native New Yorker who grew up in the Bronx, also spent some time as a child in Nigeria, where his grandparents lived, and his cooking often reflects influences from West Africa, his mom’s Creole roots, and, of course, New York.

What to order: Don’t sleep on the egusi soup dumplings made with Nigerian red stew; the honeynut squash piri piri salad inspired by the South African hot sauce, piri piri; and the short rib pastrami suya, made with West African spices.



Inside the Africa Center in Harlem, Teranga prides itself in creating a menu from “African superfoods,” primarily from West Africa. Customers can taste the richness and diversity of African cuisine from Teranga’s small counter, with only a handful of tables indoors with an outdoor area across the street from Central Park. Co-founder and executive chef Pierre Thiam collaborated with a partner and co-founder Noah Levine to open this fast-casual restaurant that emphasizes West African history and cultural significance through exceptionally executed dishes.

“We pay really close attention and make a really conscious effort to source many of our ingredients from West Africa [through] smallholder farmers [and invest] local communities,” says Levine. “We also want to educate our customers on the history of [these] African foods has had an impact on the rest of the world.”

Teranga also has a location within Midtown food hall, The Hugh, as well.

What to order: The Yassa Yassa Grilled Chicken Bowl is one of the most popular entrees but take the opportunity to customize your bowl to sweeten the experience.

Walk-ins only.  

Berber Street Food

West Village

A countertop serving takeout specials with a handful of small outdoor tables for a quick meal on the go, Berber Street Food is always worth stopping by. While its name may suggest a more North African fare, the small restaurant focuses on highlighting different street foods across the African continent. Owner Diana Tandia was inspired to open the restaurant by her own travels to different countries.

“I traveled around the world, especially in Asia, and the more time I spent in [there], then I realized [a commonality] in Asia and Africa, which is my street food,” says Tandia. “Then going to Mexico, in India, and we all have something in common, which is street food.”

What to order: The Calypso Wings are a popular favorite from the menu at the moment, but the menu changes seasonally.

Walk-ins only.

Ras Plant Based

Crown Heights

In Crown Heights, husband-and-wife duo Romeo and Mika Regalli create a relaxing vibe with a smooth playlist of ’90s hip hop and R&B tunes with vibrant artwork on the walls, serving inventive, contemporary Ethiopian fare that’s also gotten the attention of the James Beard Awards. In fact, Romeo Regalli was named a James Beard Awards semifinalist for Best Chef in New York State in 2022. For him, building a sense of community around food was integral in opening his business with a mission to bring healthy, tasty food to customers.

“We had a whole purpose of the existence of Ras for it, for the community. It’s really not about me. I don’t see it as a business,” he says.It’s really about providing healthy food. We don’t skimp on [anything]. We use organic ingredients. We could use nonorganic ingredients, or unhealthy things, and still make them taste good. But that’s not providing for the community.”

What to order: The platters are the most popular with different plant-based toppings for groups and for starters, and the mushroom and ras tibs are a must.

Dept of Culture


In Bed-Stuy, chef-owner Ayo Balogun translates his desire to teach people about Nigerian food with the Dept of Culture. The reservations-only establishment has only one large communal table with a few seats at a countertop for a four-course meal that’s a delicious cultural lesson about his home country. Along the walls, you’ll find photographs of his family and life back in Nigeria. “The food I grew up eating as a kid in Nigeria was served with dignity,” explains Balogun. “People always look at food of African descent or of the [African diaspora] as pedestrian. We don’t do takeaway; we are a dine-in place. We approach our dining experience with dignity.”

What to order: The multi-course prix-fixe menu changes seasonally.

Book your reservations here.



In a small shop in Queens, Nigerian chef Beatrice Ajaero decided to take a chance to introduce her neighborhood to the foods you’d typically find in a West African household, creating a menu that features a blending of West African cuisines that stands out even amongst Queens’ diverse neighborhoods.

“It was really important for me to speak to the truth of the cross-sections and the commonalities within cuisine from countries that are along the same vegetation pathways,” Ajaero says. We thought that a regional presentation of West African food would highlight the commonalities not just within our own region of West Africa, but also speaking about neighboring countries and regions around the world.”

What to order: Most customers get the fufu with the spicy goat soup or the egusi soup.

Walk-ins only.



Also in Astoria, you’ll find a small strip of restaurants that specialize in Egyptian cuisine. One that sticks out is Mombar. Inside, you’ll find a community of locals and food-obsessed patrons feasting on traditional Egyptian foods like pyramids of fluffy couscous, grilled liver appetizers, and beef shank braised in an aromatic tomato sauce.

What to order: “Lamb shank,” says owner Moustafa El Sayed. He also suggests pairing the lamb shank with Mombar’s famous couscous pyramid. Pro tip: Mombar is also BYOB.

Walk-ins only.

Hav & Mar


Hav & Mar, the latest restaurant from Chef Marcus Samuelsson is a celebration of contemporary Black cuisine, drawing culinary influences and traditions from across the African diaspora, including Samuelsson’s own Ethiopian heritage. The restaurant’s name is symbolic: “Hav” means “ocean” in Swedish, a tribute to where Samuelsson grew up, and “mar” is the Amharic word for “honey,” a nod to Ethiopia.

What to order: Says Samuelsson: “The Swediopian is berbere-cured salmon and obviously brings my two sides together. We have a tartare dish that stems from my wife’s tribe in Ethiopia.”

Dana Givens is a New York-based travel and lifestyle writer. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter. Follow @Resy, too.