popular

Diaspora Eats: 9 of Chicago's Best African Restaurants

Here are some African spots to check out the next time you're in the Windy City!

The diaspora is brimming with a variety of restaurants that offer savory dishes that'll remind you of mom's cooking.


In our Diaspora Eats series, we highlight these many eateries, and offer recommendations for the best African food in whichever major city you might find yourself in.

Whether you're looking for options to fit your dietary restrictions or you're simply looking to stuff your face with quality eats, there's a spot in the city that will cater to your palette. Below are 7 African restaurants to check out while you're in Chicago.Check out some of the best African food in L.A, Houston, London, New York, Paris, and Washington D.C., Amsterdam, Toronto and Madrid and Los Angeles and Lisbon.

When it comes to African restaurants, Chicago is no Paris or London, where fancy eateries and humble spots coexist. Chicago's African restaurants are all still family-run businesses that to tend cater to Africans seeking an affordable taste of home.

The variety may be limited but Chicagoans take care of their most cherished spots. Most of the restaurants below have been open for 10 years or more and will surely see at least another decade or two.

Below we give you nine of the best African restaurants in Chicago. Enjoy!

1. Yassa African Restaurant

When I returned to Chicago in 2004, I spotted a Senegalese food stand dishing out yassa poulet (onion chicken) and Thieboudine (tomato, fish and vegetable stew) at the annual African Festival of the Arts. Senegalese food had finally arrived in Chicago. For the next decade I often trekked to the far South Side to Yassa's standalone restaurant. The neighborhood had seen better days but this didn't prevent people from seeking out the best African restaurant in Chicago. A couple of years ago, Yassa moved to a more gentrified black neighborhood. The dining is more refined but the food still tastes the same—damn good. Check out the live entertainment every 2nd Sunday.

2. Gorée Cuisine

Senegalese entrepreneur Adama Ba launched Chicago's third Senegalese restaurant right next door to his first African clothing shop. In the morning, locals come for pastries, coffee, and tea. By lunchtime, Senegalese dishes like maffé (peanut stew), thiou boulette (fish meatball), and yassa poulet (onion chicken) take center stage. His grandmother also runs a restaurant on the Gorée island.

3. Ethiopian Diamond

Ethiopian cuisine is plentiful in Chicago and Ethiopian Diamond is one of the best. The menu includes meat and vegetarian stews, all served on a platter of injera. The menu is naturally gluten-free, reflecting a cuisine noted as one of the world's most ancient and healthiest. The restaurant is able to cater to gluten-free folks, vegetarians, and vegans. Communal dining makes the restaurant a great date spot too.

4.Vee-Vee's African Restaurant

Vee-Vee's African Restaurant is often the first African restaurant that many Chicagoans come to know— it has been the only African restaurant at the Taste of Chicago culinary festival for the last 20 years. The jollof rice, sautéed goat and egusi are the best in Chicago. Like many African restaurants in Chicago, this one also serves Caribbean food, often jerk chicken and plantains. Sunday's all-you-can-eat-buffet draws a big crowd.

5. Denden Eritrean Restaurant

Chicago's lone Eritrean restaurant serves dishes that would be recognizable to fans of Ethiopian cuisine alongside Italian pasta dishes—as influenced by the country's Italian colonization. One of the most unique dishes is a chicken stew served with boiled eggs—derho. Diners say that Eritrean food has more herbs than Ethiopian food, making it taste fresher. Check this spot out and decide for yourself!

6. Demera Ethiopian Restaurant

Demera and Diamond Ethiopian restaurants compete with each for the title of best Ethiopian restaurant in Chicago and Demera appears to be winning. Visitors often claim that it's the best Ethiopian food that they have EVER had. Even the Michelin Guide recommends the restaurant. One of their best dishes is Ye-Shrip Wot, which comes with a whole, pan-fried fish seasoned with onion, garlic, jalapeño, awaze and a special Ethiopian spice. The owners recently opened up a nightspot called Safari Lounge on N. Clark St.

7. Grace's African Restaurant

A condensed menu of Goat, pounded yam, spinach stew, jollof rice, and plantains allow diners go travel to Ghana without the visa. This is Chicago's only Ghanaian restaurant and it's still a family affair.

8. Mogadishu Restaurant

Mogadishu Restaurant is a leftover from the pre-gentrification era of Near North Chicago. What is this hole in the wall restaurant doing in the middle of a street with designer clothes shops and whole foods? The restaurant originally catered to Somali taxi drivers looking to fill up on the cheap between shifts. But now well-heed locals often wander in. For $13, you can get a plate of Somali rice lentils, sauteed chicken, fried fish fillets, cabbage and salted carrots. Don't forget the banana.

9. Barwaqo Kabob

Barwaqo Kabob is located in a strip mall and offers a global menu that spans east African and the middle east. The menu includes flatbread, basmati rice, spicy chicken, lamb, canjeero (pancake-style bread that is similar to a crêpe), nafaqo (seasoned potato stuffed with hard boiled egg) and sambuusa (fried or baked pastry with a spiced potatoes, onions, peas, lentils). The watermelon juice is another delectable treat.

News Brief

Akon Confirms Agreement For His New City In Senegal, 'Akon City'

It's official, Akon is developing a new city in Senegal.

Akon is developing his own city in Senegal.

The musician and entrepreneur confirmed the signing of the agreement for Akon City earlier this week in an Instagram post. "Just finalized the agreement for AKON CITY in Senegal. Looking forward to hosting you there in the future," he wrote.

Akon had previously talked about his plans to launch a "Crypto City" in Senegal which would run on his own cyptocurrency, AKoin.

He's also been working on initiatives like the Lighting Africa Project, which aims to bring electricity to homes in West Africa through solar power.

Akon explained his plans in more detail last year in an interview with Nick Cannon: ""It's all renewable, the Akon-tainment solar city," he mentions. "It's a 10-year building block so we're doing it in stages. We started construction in March and stage two is going to be 2025."

Keep reading... Show less
News Brief
Image courtesy of NBA Africa.

Amadou Gallo Fall Named President of NBA's New Basketball Africa League

The Senegalese native, will lead the establishment of the NBA's newest league set to launch in 2020.

In February, it was announced that the NBA was establishing the Basketball Africa League (BAL), a new professional league based on the continent, in collaboration with the International Basketball Federation (FIBA). The new league will include 12 club teams from across the continent.

Ahead of its launch next year, it's been announced that NBA Vice President and Managing Director for Africa, Amadou Gallo Fall will act as President of the upcoming league.

Fall is a Senegalese native who began working with the NBA in 2010. "Amadou's efforts to grow basketball and the NBA's business across Africa have been extraordinary, and he is an ideal choice to lead the Basketball Africa League," said NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. "This historic initiative will not only further enhance the game in Africa but also provide new opportunities in media, technology and infrastructure on the continent."

Keep reading... Show less
Video
C Natty/emPawa

You Need to Watch C Natty's New Music Video For 'Ojah'

Video Premiere: Check out the striking first release from Mr Eazi's #emPawa30.

C Natty arrives in style with his new single "Ojah."

The track, which is the first release from Mr Eazi's new group of #emPawa30 artists, sees the Nigerian artist delivering a highly-infectious and grooving concoction over jazz-leaning afrobeats produced by Killertunes.

The new music video for "Ojah," which we're premiering here today, is equally as stunning and follows the story of someone who doesn't take others' advice. C Natty told us the following about the DK of Priorgold Pictures-directed video:

Keep reading... Show less
News Brief

South African Hip-Hop Producers Tweezy and Gemini Major Set for Instagram Live Beat Battle

Two of South Africa's hip-hop super producers Tweezy and Gemini Major will face-off in upcoming Instagram live beat battle.

After Instagram live beat battles such as Swizz Beatz versus Timbaland and Mannie Fresh versus Scott Storch amid the lockdown to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, it was only a matter of time until the hip-hop community across the world followed suit.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.

popular.