Polly has lived in Senegal for three years. She’s been a vegetarian for 1.5 years but her husband is not. One of the things she missed most about the States is trying a new restaurant every weekend. So I knew she’d be a great one to ask for restaurant recommendations.
In order to give a nice, well-rounded view of things, I’m asking readers to give their opinions as well. If you’d be willing to participate, please email me!
Favorite pizza: That’s a hard one. Caesar’s in Mermoz has a great vegetarian pizza, but it’s not necessarily consistent. Sometimes, maybe 80% of the time, the crust is the perfect thickness and flavor and other times it’s flat and lifeless. Le Baladi has a great cheese pizza, called Mananeesh fromage, which is just flatbread smothered in cheese and some olive oil (read not exactly healthy but oh so delicious!).
Favorite place for vegetarian treats: The veggie and fruit stands!! It’s amazing the variety you can find and what you can whip up in your own kitchen quickly! But if I’m eating out, my go to places are Mami Mia for their vegetarian sandwich with grilled eggplant and zucchini with pesto. Fan.tas.tic! Or Sweet Coffee, which has a great selection of salads and sandwiches, all which can be ordered without the meats! Just say “Je suis végétarien(ne)!”
Favorite ice cream: Xocco at Sea Plaza. I know it’s not most people’s favorite, but they have this citrus basil ice cream, which I love. So sour but flavorful with the hint of basil. They also have a great dark or milk chocolate and a great Fleur d’orange which when mixed together taste like this old Christmas candy. N’ice cream used to have a Cherry Mania type ice cream which is my all time favorite but they haven’t carried it in recent trips.
Favorite ethnic restaurant: Currently my favorite is Le Jardin Thailandais, but honestly it changes constantly! This restaurant not only has a HUGE selection of meals but they can also do almost all of them with tofu or all veggies instead of the meat! Needless to say, decisions may take a while.
Favorite Senegalese restaurant and/or meal: Mafe gerte (peanut sauce) has to be my all time favorite Senegalese dish. In many of the places we work, they can’t afford to put meat in the dish so it’s full of pumpkin, carrot, eggplant, cabbage, jakatu, and tons of other vegetables. Plus it’s a super easy dish to make with or without the meat (as my husband is not a vegetarian).
Favorite breakfast or brunch: Unfortunately I’m a night owl, which means that most of the time, my breakfast consists of a cup of coffee (hot or iced). But Times Café does have a great omelet, which I’ve gotten at other times than breakfast
Favorite little beach restaurant: La Cabane des Surfers in Les Almadies. Great atmosphere and great view! Their vegetarian selection consists of fries or eggs, but my husband loves their lotte brochettes and the view wins out in the end!
Favorite old standby: Mami Mia. I’m not kidding when I say that the grilled eggplant sandwich is amazing! I could eat that everyday for lunch or dinner! Or Saveurs d’Asie’s sautéed legumes with rice. Always a good mix of veggies and they are fast..relatively speaking.
Favorite splurge: Le Jardin Thailandais. When we are in Dakar, we always pick one night to eat here. My favorite dish is number #35 made with tofu. It’s a curry with pineapple and coconut milk and it’s served in a halved hollowed out pineapple. Great great dish!
Favorite place to order a good coffee:
Unfortunately I am a little
snobby picky when it comes to my coffee. Xocco has an okay espresso and café au lait. BUT I am hearing amazing things about Presse Café.
If I were stranded on a deserted island and could have only one of Dakar’s restaurants, it would be: Shady Shack probably. The smoothest most delicious hummus I’ve ever eaten and a great tabouleh salad.
What is missing from the Dakar food scene? More vegetarian choices! I can always find something to eat because most places in Dakar always have a vegetarian pizza, a three cheese Panini, and an omelet. But the selection is so limited. We need more restaurants that serve a wider variety of sandwiches with more than just lettuce and tomato or cheese. Get inventive restaurant owners! Use all the great produce at your fingertips and make some great vegetarian options for your meatless clientele.
Oh and a great Italian place… not just a place that may have one Italian dish, but a for real Italian restaurant.