From beef mafe to banku: 3 new places to savor West African fare in New York City

Berber Street Food. | Photo: Sam H./Yelp

If you've got jollof rice, okra stew or Ghanaian banku on the brain, you're in luck: we've found the freshest New York City eateries to quell your cravings. Here are the newest places to check out the next time you're in the mood for West African food.

Berber Street Food

35 Carmine St., West Village
Photo: Berber Street Food/Yelp

Berber Street Food is an African-Caribbean hybrid joint serving up take-out and dine-in meals from its space at 35 Carmine St. in the West Village. Chef Diana Tandia's Afro-fusion project features dishes from a variety of regional cuisines.

For instance, you'll find Senegalese empanadas with beef, chicken or vegetables; Nigerian sirloin skewers with cabbage salad; and herbed lamb meatballs with berber salad. (You can check out the full menu here.) The restaurant provides catering services and delivery via Seamless.

With a five-star Yelp rating out of three reviews, Berber Street Food has been getting positive attention in its early days.

"The flavor of the chicken had the perfect balance of smoky and spicy, without being overbearing. The curry in the chickpeas and potatoes were mellow yet complimentary to the chicken," wrote Richie G., who was the first to review the new fusion spot on September 7.

And Yelper Sam H. added, "The Suya Brochettes (Nigerian sirloin skewers) were a perfect savory bite, served alongside a delectable hot sauce with a hint of habanero."

Berber Street Food is open from noon-9 p.m. on weekdays. (It's closed on weekends.)

Mama G African Kitchen

1322A E. Gun Hill Road, Allerton
Photo: Hadassah B./Yelp

Mama G African Kitchen is a cash-only West African spot located at 1322A E. Gun Hill Road in the Bronx's Allerton neighborhood. This is the second location for the family-owned joint, which specializes in Ghanaian cuisine.

On the menu, look for jollof rice with beef and plantains, grilled red snapper and spicy kebabs, as well as banku-- a Ghanaian specialty of cooked fermented corn and cassava dough, served with stew or pepper sauce. The restaurant provides takeout, delivery and catering as well as dine-in options.

With 3.5 stars out of three reviews on Yelp, Mama G is still finding its feet, but it's early days yet.

"I enjoy their service and friendly atmosphere," wrote Yelper Barbara S., who reviewed the new joint on August 19. "If you're a newbie and don't know what to get I'd say get the waakye cooked rice and beans. My favorite thing on the menu."

And Yelper Hadassah B. noted, "I ordered the jollof with beef and plantain. I enjoyed my meal for the most part. I just think the chef is a little heavy handed with the oil. Overall nice flavors."

Mama G African Kitchen is open from 11 a.m.-2 a.m. daily.


51B Willoughby St., Downtown Brooklyn
Photo: Ellyn V./Yelp

Medina is a Senegalese spot serving buffet-style food priced by the pound. The family-owned counter-service restaurant is located at 51B Willoughby St. (between Lawrence and Jay streets) in downtown Brooklyn.

Customers can expect to find dishes like the red snapper stewed in tomato sauce with eggplant, carrots, cassava and cabbage, served over jollof rice, and the beef mafe: pieces of beef and veggies in a peanut sauce, served with veggies over rice.

Medina currently holds 3.5 stars out of six reviews on Yelp, indicating fair reviews in its early days.

"The food is delicious and the portions are huge! It is buffet style, quick and easy," said Nicholas M. "You get a lot of food... enough for two meals."

However, a few Yelpers complained of lackluster service and confusion over pricing changes. Rivya S. noted, "The selections are not labeled so if you are not familiar with the cuisine you have to guess what many things are, as the persons who work there don't seem to be bothered enough to answer."

Medina is open from 10 a.m.-9 p.m. and 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday. (It's closed on Sunday.)
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