African cuisine is underrepresented in the U.S. — a fact that is reflected expertly by the need for the blanket term “African cuisine,” which seeks to represent an entire continent with 54 countries and innumerable regions, all with their own regions and flavor profiles. However, the rise of African restaurants in foodie-central urban hubs around the country gives us an inclination that change is on the horizon to bring African fare into Western mainstream. African cuisine is typically vegetable and grain heavy, and fits the bill for increasingly health-conscious and adventurous American diets. Whether staying true to its roots or modernizing traditional dishes for new audiences, we’re starting to see a spotlight shone on African cuisine through new restaurants and celebrity chefs.
Bringing Biltong Back
Atlanta-based gastropub, Biltong Bar, serves up South African street food including their namesake biltong. A favorite food of late night host Trevor Noah, biltong is a traditional South African air-cured meat snack, similar to beef jerky. Expanding from Atlanta’s trendy Ponce City Market to luxury retail complex Buckhead, Biltong Bar is securing South African cuisine’s place in the ATL.
Fusion of Flavors at Kith and Kin
Storytelling through food comes easy for Kith and Kin head chef Kwame Onwuachi. His fusion of Afro-Caribbean flavors and methodologies brings an unorthodox approach to African cuisine — uniting flavors from his upbringing in the Bronx with his family’s Nigerian, Trinidadian, Jamaican, and Creole heritage, finished with European techniques picked up from his training at The Culinary Institute of America. The Eleven Madison Park alum and Top Chef competitor Onwuachi delivers inspired meals at the Michelin-reviewed restaurant, with dishes ranging from West African jollof rice and Nigerian suya, to Creole shrimp and Jamacian oxtail.
Marcus Making a Name for Ethiopia
Celebrity chef Marcus Samuelson is a purveyor of Ethiopian food in the United States. The Ethiopian-born, Swedish-raised chef and TV show host celebrates his roots through culinary experiences. During his visit to DC for his show “No Passport Required,” Samuelson shed light on the area’s expansive Ethiopian community, the second largest outside of Africa, visiting Ethiopian restaurants, markets, and cafes. Owner of a slew of restaurants scattered across the world including Red Rooster, Marcus Montreal, and Marcus’ Bermuda, Samuelson cites classic Ethiopian dishes like shiro and beef kitfo as the dishes that made his career.
The culinary world is hungry for new tastes and experiences — open to explore flavors that not only please the palate but also improve health — and African cuisine is starting to see its moment in the limelight.
For Streetsense updates, follow us on social media or sign up for the Word on the Street newsletter.
BACK TO LATEST