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9 Best African Restaurants in the United States

9 Best African Restaurants in the United States

A child of Africa living abroad? We know all about the pains of craving for some traditional food like maman use to make it. #TheStruggleIsReal.

We’re on a mission to track down the tastiest African restaurants outside of the continent. We’re starting off in the United States of America [stay tuned for our list of Top African Restaurants in other parts of the world!].

Did you know the number of Africans living in the United States has increased dramatically between 2000 and 2010? It doubled from 881,300 in 2000 to 1,606,914 in the space of ten years. According to the U.S. Immigration Policy Center, the number of male African immigrants increased from 484,790 to 845,237 during the same time, while the number of women increased from 396,510 to 761,677. In 2010, Africans constituted 4 percent of the foreign-born population in the United States.

Africans are known for their love of their traditional food, and so it is no surprise that as the number of immigrants increase, so too the number of African-owned restaurants serving African cuisine but trying to modernize and adapt African cuisine to cater to individuals from the United States and other countries. African restaurants can be found all over the United States, with cities such as New York City and Washington, D.C., known for having many African restaurants.

Here’s a look at top African restaurants throughout the United States that offer African cuisine from across the continent:

Oasis Café & Grill in Atlanta, Georgia

Open since 2011, Oasis Café & Grill prides itself on offering African cuisine, including Senegalese food, and Jamaican cuisine, with nearly 20 different dishes. The restaurant has one big room with two different parts. One part consists of the restaurant and the other has Moroccan-style hookah.

Fili Koite, the restaurant’s owner, said the restaurant has been featured on Senegalese television and that people would not expect it to be a Senegalese restaurant, noting that it attracts a variety of people, including Americans, Senegalese, Ethiopians, Cameroonians and Nigerians.

“When you come here…everything you eat, I am the owner, I am the chef,” Koite said. “I prepare Jamaican food, Senegalese food.”

The Dish You Must Absolutely Try

The Jollof rice with grilled fish or grilled lamb, is popular among patrons, at $14.95. Also popular among customers is the thiebu jen ($10.95), chicken yassa ($12.95), fish yassa ($12.95) and attiéké ($13.95).

LOCATION: 350 Northridge Road, Atlanta, GA 30350

African restaurants throughout the United States

Tsion Café in New York, New York

The couple behind an Ethiopian restaurant in the Sugar Hill section of Harlem sought to bring fresh, healthy food to the neighborhood and support artistic talent.

The menu is influenced by the travels of co-owner Bee Jay Barhani, an Ethiopian-born Jew who moved to Israel at an early age. Barhani and her husband, Padmore John, a Dominica native, who are longtime Harlem residents, traveled throughout the United States to educate people about the experience of Ethiopian Jews and were inspired to start a café.

The Dish You Must Absolutely Try

The restaurant offers heavily Ethiopian cuisine influenced by the cooking of Barhani’s mother and aunt, but also provides Mediterranean and American fusion food. Highlights include Sheba Tej, a popular Ethiopian wine, and injera made on-site, with a choice of gluten-free or regular. The restaurant also hosts regular have open mic sessions for poetry, singers and and a wall space for local artists to showcase their work.

“We thought it was an opportunity for us to open a place where people can come and get healthy food,” says John said. “Together, we’re introducing Ethiopian culture. The concept behind Tsion Café is we are sourcing ingredients from local farmers as much as possible, healthy ingredients.”

You must try this dish: The vegetarian combo comes with chickpeas and various Ethiopian spices such as berbere, Atakilt (cabbage stew made with berbere and other Ethiopian spices). It costs $28 for two people and $16.50 for one person.

LOCATION: 763 St. Nicholas Avenue, New York, NY 10031

African restaurants throughout the United States

The Sahara in Greenwood Village, CO

This Moroccan and Lebanese restaurant has been serving authentic traditional Middle Eastern cuisine to the Greenwood Village community since 1993. Customers feel as though they are sitting at a table but feel as though they are in a tent, with henna lamps made out of goat or lamb skin hanging over each table. The restaurant, a good date destination, also has imported Moroccan rugs, pastoral, handmade old-country pottery and stylish décor. At night, the restaurant puts blue glasses on the table to add more color.

“What makes it unique is the atmosphere and the food and the flavors of the spices that we put in our dishes to give it a nice aroma,” says owner Mohammed Ettachfini. He comes from a big family and says they missed their own food with all the flavor and spices, which is what led to the opening of the restaurant.

The Dish You Must Absolutely Try

You must try this dish: The espetada, a traditional Portuguese dish with marinated beef and garlic butter, is popular at both locations. It is $39.

LOCATION: Peli Peli Vintage Park: 110 Vintage Park Boulevard, Suite P, Houston, TX 77070

African restaurants throughout the United States

Peli Peli in Houston, Texas

When co-owners Thomas Nguyen, of Vietnam, Michael Tran, also of Vietnam, and executive chef Paul Friedman, a South African native, started Peli Peli, they wanted to adapt South African food for all people to enjoy, combining the peli peli pepper with different fruits and flavors and pouring it with seafood.

Although the restaurant serves South African fusion cuisine, 20 percent of the menu is authentic, pulling from Dutch, Portuguese and Indian influences. The fine dining restaurant and special occasion destination is typically popular for first dates, with LED lights at the Galleria location and a 30-foot Acacia tree at the Vintage Park site. “We wanted to be the first South African concept to really tailor its menu to non-South Africans,” says Nguyen.

The Dish You Must Absolutely Try

You must try this dish: The espetada, a traditional Portuguese dish with marinated beef and garlic butter, is popular at both locations. It is $39.

LOCATION: Peli Peli Vintage Park: 110 Vintage Park Boulevard, Suite P, Houston, TX 77070

African restaurants throughout the United States

Bravo Africa in Bronx, New York

In operation since 2014, Bravo Africa serves West African cuisine, primarily from Senegal, The Gambia, Senegal, Guinea and Mali. Patrons can try everything from Jollof rice to peanut butter soup to shawarma, and every meal comes with all sorts of sauces. The restaurant seats up to 30 people and has four different TV sets for people to watch sports, chat and have a good time.

The restaurant’s founder and owner, Mussa Jalloh, a Sierra Leone native, first opened an African grocery store that sells African products such as dried fish, seasonings such as maggis and baobab food as well as standard grocery items and American, Spanish and West Indies products. He decided to open the restaurant next door after his customers frequently asked him if he had ready-made food. He was even hired by Uber to provide African food.

Jalloh says their success is due to their hospitality. “The customer service is good so people like that and also the fact that the foods, we make sure that everything is done in the right way,” says Jalloh.

The Dish You Must Absolutely Try

You must try this dish: The grilled chicken, grilled lamb and grilled fish are especially popular among customers. It costs $13. The chef makes his own seasoning by mixing green peppers, red peppers and small quantities of fresh ginger, mustard and vinegar and uses a specific grilling technique. YAnd you can choose from one of these side orders: salad, French fries, fried plantains, couscous, vermicelli, rice, beans and attiéké.

LOCATION: 1473-1475 Westchester Avenue, Bronx, NY 10472

African restaurants throughout the United States

Café Rue Dix in Brooklyn, New York

Café Rue Dix, a restaurant that offers Senegalese and French cuisine, opened in July 2013. The couple who owns the restaurant, Atlanta native Nilea Diagne, whose parents are Caribbean, and Senegalese native Lamine Diagne, noticed that there was a dearth of Senegalese restaurants in the area and that a French restaurant had recently closed. The couple would often eat traditional African food in Harlem and were inspired to start the restaurant, which was named after Rue Dix, where Lamine grew up in Senegal.

Nilea describes it as “a true Franco-Senegalese environment.” The restaurant,, which draws an international crowd, is in French café style, with small tables containing African print.

The Dish You Must Absolutely Try

You must try this dish: The Branzino Grille, which costs $18, consists of grilled sea bass, onion confit, sweet plantains and a side of either rice or couscous. Another choice is the Thiebou Jen, the national plate of Senegal at $16, is stewed fish and vegetables over rice.

LOCATION: 1451 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11216

African restaurants throughout the United States

Drelyse in Columbus, Ohio

In operation since 2007, the restaurant serves West African and East African food. When customers enter the restaurant, they are greeted by burning candles and hand washing bowls are brought to the table, inspired by the experiences of the chef and owner, Lisa Bannerman, in her native Ghana.

Bannerman, who has a degree in culinary arts from the Bradford School’s Columbus Culinary Institute, said she was born into the food industry as her grandmother and great grandmother were both caterers and her aunt owned a restaurant.

“We make sure we give the African hospitality, like you’re home, to make it different,” says Bannerman.

The Dish You Must Absolutely Try

You must try this dish: The tilapia, which costs $16 to $17 depending on the size, is grilled to order which takes up to 60 minutes, but it well worth the wait. . Other popular dishes include Jollof rice and the goat stew that comes with rice, salad and chimichurri, both of which cost $12.99.

LOCATION: 1911 Tamarack Cir N, Columbus, OH 43229

African restaurants throughout the United States

Farafina in New York, New York

Farafina Lounge and Café offers traditional West African dishes such as the maffé, chicken yassa and the lamb dibi with a modernized touch from Ivorian chef, Clement Dobo.The restaurant also offers dishes served across the Spanish region such as the lobster empanada and American-style food such as calamari and bar foods.

The café, open since July 2013, draws individuals in their 30s and 40s and the lounge, which opened in July, attracts a younger crowd. The spot draws a mix of people with diverse backgrounds. “I think we embody new ideas of what America can be and the melting pot of New York City I think we embody here,” Steven Abreu, the restaurant’s general manager, said.

The Dish You Must Absolutely Try

You must try this dish: The poisson à la braise is braised whole tilapia with tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions and green and yellow peppers and is served with plantains or attiéké. The meal costs $18.

LOCATION: 1813 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10031

African restaurants throughout the United States
Appioo African Bar & Grill in Washington, D.C.

Situated in the heart of Washington, D.C.’s historic black Broadway/Shaw neighborhood, the Appioo African Bar & Grill is known for Chef Prince Matey’s renowned home-cooked Ghanaian cuisine, African beverages, sports at the bar and live bands and DJs during the weekends.

The restaurant has a food bar and a mural on the wall featuring an individual relaxing at a beach at an unspecified African country, giving the restaurant an African presence. Matey, a Ghanaian native, said his technique is using natural spices, fresh ginger and fresh garlic to prepare his food.

“The atmosphere here is cozy,” says Matey. “We’re in the basement. We offer live entertainment on weekends, especially every Friday we have a reggae band here, so we entertain diners here while they enjoy their dinner.”

The Dish You Must Absolutely Try

You must try this dish: The spinach fish, which costs $15, consists of sautéed vegetables and peppers in spinach and palm oil. It can be cooked vegetarian style or served with a choice of filet of fish, croaker fish, chicken, oxtail or goat meat.The sides include boiled green plantains, white rice, Jollof rice, fufu or banku. House specialties also include abunuabunu, kelewele ($6), goat kebabs and fufu, which is plantain flour mashed into dumplings ($14).

LOCATION: 1924 9th Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20001

African restaurants throughout the United States

*Special shout out to Akin Akinsanya, founder of the New York African Restaurant Week and Rafih Benjelloun of Imperial Fez Restaurant for their help in identifying the yummiest spots!

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