Arts + Culture

Okayafrica's Guide To New York African Restaurant Week

Presenting Okayafrica's Guide to the bi-annual New York African Restaurant Week.


The second annual New York African Restaurant Week is officially underway! Produced by Panla and A Taste of Africa, the series features special promotions and events across the city from today through Sunday, May 4th. Over the course of the next week, participating restaurants will be offering 3 course Prix Fixe meals at various prices (starting at $16.95 for lunch and $24.95 for dinner). In the lead-up to this latest edition, we did some digging to get the low-down on how to make the most out of our restaurant week experience. We even caught up with some chefs who gave us the full scoop on why we should check out their restaurants. Without further adieu, scroll on for our full guide to NYARW.

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MANHATTAN

Farafina Lounge

Where: 1813 Amsterdam Avenue, 212.281.2445

Promotion: 3-course lunch and dinner prix fixe menu

Why: Apart from the food, Farafina is debuting their new Bissap Mojito! Wednesday nights are Open Mic Nights and Jazzy Thursdays comprise of 60’s, 70’s soul, funk, Latin, and funky jazz.

Tolani Wine Bar

Where: 410 Amsterdam Avenue, 212.873.6252

Promotion: 3-course lunch and dinner prix fixe menu

Why: If you’re looking for a date night location, this is your spot! Located on the Upper West side, end your long walk in Central Park at this South African inspired eatery. Said owner Stanton Du Toit, “We have the most beautiful restaurant in Manhattan! At our South African centric restaurant, patrons can enjoy international small plates as well as our secret wine garden.”

Queen Of Sheba

Where: 650 10th Avenue, 212.397.0610

Promotion: 15% off any 3-course dinner, 2-for-1 drink specials as well as a free cup of Ethiopian coffee

Why: The recipes have history. Chef and owner Philipos Mengistu gained his first culinary experience at the restaurant his parents operated in Addis Ababa in the early 1970s. Mengistu imports berbere, a spice mixture, directly from his own mother in Ethiopia, and uses only her recipe.

Accra Restaurant

Where: 2065 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd., 917.504.3098

Promotion: 10% off regular menu prices

Why: “It’s always good to have a different experience. We represent our people back home and our people here. Our food is a mix of West African and soul food. It’s a representation of coming together.” - Ahmed Abdallah, Manager

Lenox Saphire (aka Les Ambassades)

Promotion: 3-course lunch and dinner prefix menu

Lalibela Restaurant

Where: 37 East 29th Street, 646.454.0913

Promotion: 3-course lunch and dinner prix fixe menu

Why: If you’re one to pair food and drink, their extensive drink menu perfectly compliments the spicy, flavorful dishes. “We have a good reputation with our food from our lamb, our beef, our chicken and vegetarian options... On Fridays and Saturdays we extend our hours,” says Lalibela's manager Kassa.

The Sugar Bar

Where: 254 West 72nd Street, #1A, 212.579. 0222

Promotion: 3-course lunch and dinner prix fixe menu

Why: If you have a major sweet tooth, Sugar Bar can take care of that with its decadent desserts and sweet music. Start your meal off with their signature Sugartini and a selection of cultural appetizers.

Ponty Bistro

Where: 218 3rd Avenue, 212.777. 1616

Promotion: 3-course lunch and dinner prix fixe menu

Why: They combine Senegalese and West African cooking traditions with current culinary practices. Says co-owner/chef Cisse, “We’re the best restaurant in NYC! Our bistro is an upscale, fine dining fusion of French and African food... We stay open 9-midnight, 7 days a week, 365 days a year!”

The BRONX

Patina African Restaurant

Where: 823 169th Street, 718.378.7700

Promotion: 10% off regular menu prices

Why: Frequented by Nollywood stars, Patina Restaurant specializes in West African cuisine. And they deliver!

BROOKLYN

Buka

Where: 946 Fulton Street, 347.763.0619

Promotion: 3-course dinner prix fixe menu with a drink

Why: Buka has a great ambiance for socializing with friends, but if you prefer to dine alone, you can browse through their selection of books and magazines on African art, fashion, business and politics. This year Buka’s dinner prefix menu includes two new specials.

Bati Restaurant Kitchen

Where: 747 Fulton Street, 718.797.9696

Promotion: 10% off regular menu to patrons who use the code “African Restaurant Week"

Why: Owner Hibist Legesse is an Addis Abeba native who is aspiring to change the misconception of Ethiopian food being ceremonial food. To do so she has incorporated small but vital details into both cuisine and décor to create a day-to-day meal experience. “It’s great food and it’s fun!” she says.

La Caye

Where: 35 Lafayette Avenue, 718.858.4160

Promotion: 3-course lunch and dinner prix fixe menu

Why: An authentic Haitian cuisine with bottomless mimosa/bellini brunch Saturday and Sunday. *drops mic and exits stage left*

Café Rue Dix

Where: 1451 Bedford Avenue, 929.234.2543

Promotion: 3-course dinner prix fixe menu

Why: If you’re a visual person then you should definitely check out their website as well as their Instagram feed. You’ll be sold on that alone! “We do pasta, we do burgers, but our specialty is Senegalese dishes. It’s nostalgic to Europe and West Africa. If the music and décor don’t take you there the food will take you there.” – Lamine, Chef and Owner

Joloff Restaurant

Where: 1168 Bedford Avenue, 718.230.0523

Promotion: 3-course dinner plus a drink;

Why: Realizing that there is a huge demand and need for vegetarian food, their menu features an assortment of vegetarian and vegan options. Now in a new location, Joloff Restaurant is a West African restaurant specializing in Senegalese cuisine.

Madiba Restaurant

Where: 195 Dekalb Avenue, 718.855.9190

Promotion: 3-course dinner prix fixe menu

Why: Their concept is steeped in the tradition of the informal dining halls in South African townships. A percentage of their proceeds are reinvested in South Africa via Ubuntu Education Fund, Ethembeni School of the Blind and Achilles, as well as locally.

To really make the most of New York African Restaurant Week, dine smart! Be sure to visit restaurant websites as well as search reviews. Do practice the virtue of open mindedness, as restaurant week menus tend to be limited. And call ahead of time! Making reservations secures dining plans. Find out the details on Tuesday night's Edible Bazaar Benefit at Suite 36 along with a special NYAW edition of Cocktails & Conversations Thursday night and stay caught up with NYARW over at their facebook and official site

Music
Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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