My favorite restaurants (#21)

People often ask for restaurant recommendations in Dakar. I’m a bit hesitant to do so simply because if there’s one thing that’s consistent about the food scene in Dakar, it’s that it can be inconsistent. So 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!.

Today we’re hearing from Raquel, a brand development advisor and cultural strategist, who has lived in Dakar since 2010. She enjoys talking art, culture and creative currency and currently developing Made From Cloth, a fashion business consultancy, and Young Art Collector, a journal highlighting the journeys of artists and collectors. Catch up with Raquel on Twitter (@raquelwilson) or learn more about her work at

Favorite pizza:
Since I call two places with serious pizza cultures home, finding good pizza anywhere outside of New York or Chicago is really not possible. I use to try, but I was always gravely disappointed. (I’m serious about pizza!) It’s been four years since I moved to Senegal and I have to admit that I’ve only eaten pizza here when it was offered as an only choice and I was never tempted to return. However, I recently learned that the owner of Sam’s Pizza is from New York, so I may have a reason now to trek all the way over to Mamelles! His bread is amazing, so his pies have to be at least equal if not greater than, right?

Favorite burgers and fries:
Eek…this is another sore spot for me. Hamburgers and french fries have become my favorite comfort food since moving here. So since, I don’t like pre-cut burgers or frozen potatoes, if I want a burger and fries, I usually make them at home. I tried Classic Burger en ville once, but I wasn’t too pleased with the burger or the bread. The potato wedges were pretty terrific though!

Favorite ice cream:
I am a recovering N’ice Cream diehard! Up until last month, it was the only place I’d buy ice cream in Dakar. Then a friend told me about Italia-bi, an Italian-owned gelato shop less than five walking minutes from my house, just across from the Diambalaye Brioche Doree. Let’s just say my nights have been heavenly. The only bad thing I’ve discovered about Italia-bi is that they open in the late afternoon (but stay open well into the night). Don’t share this with my mother, but I do sometimes like ice cream for breakfast.

Favorite Senegalese restaurant and/or meal:
No one will believe me, but there is a little restaurant on the side of the road going to plage de Ngor. It’s two small pieced together rooms, on the left of the road, where I have had the best Senegalese food. She serves three different “plats” daily and if you’re lucky the day you go will be mafé day! You pay 1,000 F CFA and get more food than a single person can consume in one sitting.

Favorite breakfast or brunch:
I’ve always do breakfast at home. I’m not a big breakfast person, so I usually skip it or have fruit (especially in mango season) or leftovers from dinner for breakfast.

Favorite little beach restaurant:
See favorite Senegalese restaurant above!

Favorite old standby:
Dibi! Seriously, does it get any better than mutton grilled to perfection with carne and moutard on the side!!??! I think not! That and the Italian gelato are all I really need to be happy. Figo in Ouest Foire and Seoul II in Sicap Karak are my two standby dibi places, but I need to find one closer to home. Especially since I could eat this for dinner daily.

Favorite splurge:
Ok, this isn’t a restaurant, but my favorite splurge has been Trio Toque, the monthly dining experience offered by three part-time chefs. It’s pretty much out of my pocketbook range, but I have started a monthly Trio Toque fund. Also, if you want a restaurant, I’d have to say Le Bideew at the Institut Francais (also called CCF). It’s quite costly for the type of food they offer, but their brochette with aloco and frites is another way I treat myself.

Favorite place to enjoy a good coffee:
Layu, the Senegalese-owned café on rue de Almadies (next door to the new CityDia), is where I take my lattes, macchiatos and frappuccinos. It also use to be my office for nearly two months when I was waiting for Senelec to turn on my electricity, but we are talking food and drinks. The best time to go is mornings. It gets pretty crowded in the afternoons after school. They have just opened a new location en ville aussi.

If I were stranded on a deserted island and could have only one of Dakar’s restaurants, it would be:
Gogo’s Cupcakes! Again technically not a restaurant, but Gogo was the first in Dakar to catch on to the cupcake culture that was sweep across the U.S. and she doesn’t disappoint. Right now you have to custom order, but her new shop will be opening in Sacré Coeur soon.

What is missing from the Dakar food scene?
Cuban food and real, authentic corn tortillas! Hopefully they are on the way.

Thanks, Raquel!


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