Sitting at the westernmost tip of the African mainland, Dakar in Senegal is an elegant and cosmopolitan capital that encapsulates the Francophone glamour of the colonial period and the rich tradition of the Old World. Today, the city offers everything, especially in terms of eateries. Soak up the ambience of this bustling cultural hub in one of the top eight cultural restaurants in Dakar.
Restaurant, African, Cajun, Caribbean, Soul Food, $$$
A local favourite, Chez Loutcha serves up the best of Senegalese and Cape Verdean cuisine. It is centrally located, constantly busy, and offers a warm welcome. There is nowhere better to try your first taste of mafé: a delicious meat stew cooked in a thick peanut sauce and served with rice. With friendly service, no-frills surroundings and locally renowned food in generous portions, Chez Loutcha is a must-visit.
Restaurant, African, European, Caribbean, Soul Food, Street Food, $$$
A Dakar institution, it is safe to say that no visit to the capital is complete without stopping by Just4U
. Serving delicious, authentic food with particular emphasis on desserts, Just4U is equally famed for its live music, making it the perfect introduction to all things Senegalese.
Restaurant, French, European, Asian, Fusion, Seafood, $$$
La Fourchette prides itself on upholding the rich cultural history of Dakar. Dining in this elegant establishment, you would be forgiven for thinking that you had been transported to a restaurant on Paris’s Left Bank. The menu is sophisticated and European, with a twist of Asian fusion and is a nod to Senegal’s colonial past, whilst the live music and entertainment offer a welcome reminder that you are in the heart of West Africa.
Restaurant, French, African, Seafood, European, $$$
Malva pudding | © Meraj Chhaya/Flickr
is a refined place, offering visitors stunning views of Gorée Island on one side and the eastern headland on the other. The menu is packed with delicious fare, impressive desserts and tasty cocktails. Dining at Lagon 1 is a premium experience and the restaurant has catered for the likes of Jacques Chirac, Bono and Pierre Palmade to name just a few.
Restaurant, European, African, Soul Food, $$$
is to Dakar what the Chateau Marmont is to LA
: the place to see and to be seen in, frequented by Senegal’s high-profile socialites. The patio itself is a low lit, rustic outdoor space adorned with twinkling lights and palm trees. Le Patio serves a wide range of sophisticated dishes and the bar offers an extensive list of cocktails, which are best enjoyed later in the evening when the venue fills up and transforms into a lively nightclub staying open until 5am.
Restaurant, Seafood, Steakhouse, African, European, $$$
could easily be mistaken for a French beach resort with its wooden interior and pastel coloured tables. Dakar’s beaches are a closely guarded secret, but the arrival of restaurants and cafés such as Noflaye Beach are setting about changing that. Its seaside location guarantees fresh fish, but no visit would be complete without sampling the extensive range of crêpes, both savoury and sweet.
Restaurant, African, $$$
Its name translates as ‘question mark’ but there is nothing questionable about the cosy, down-to-earth ambience and hearty dishes that Point d’Interrogation promises. Point d’Interrogation offers the perfect combination of full plates at low prices and is a great place to rub shoulders with the locals. Its central location means that it is an ideal spot in which to recharge your batteries between periods of sightseeing in the bustling city of Dakar.
Market, Seafood, Street Food, $$$
Dried fish on a beach near Dakar | © John Atherton/Flickr
If you like the busy throng of traditional markets then you absolutely must pay a visit to the Soumbedioune night market. As the sun sets over Dakar, the crowds flock to the market to peruse endless stalls of freshly caught fish and seafood. Soumbedioune is as much a social experience as it is a gourmet experience; it is a point where locals, tourists, fishermen and food-lovers come together in the pursuit of delicious dinner and a festive atmosphere.