Bissap Baobab

(Mission and 19th) This Senegalese restaurant is always busy, like it’s neighbors Cha Cha Cha and Charanga, so be prepared to wait. Senegalese cuisine is like that of other West African countries — starches, stews, and grilling things. There’s a DJ on weekends and some pretty tasty cocktails with ginger, hibiscus, and other “exotic ingredients.”

We started with fried plantains with a tamarind dipping sauce. Actually, according to our Senegalese companion, plantains are not native to Senegal, but to Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire, so that dish was not particularly authentic. We managed to ignore that on the basis of its tastiness. For the main course I had the Yapou Khar, which is a lamb stew with tomatoes and onions over rice. The lamb was tender, but I found the stew a little too watery — I wish they had cooked it a little longer or reduced the liquid more. The centerpiece dish is Thiebou Djen (or Djolof rice for those who know Ghanaian food). This is a spicy fish stew over red rice, and is hearty and tasty.

Bissap has managed to get less and less spicy every time I’ve gone there, and the prices seem to have gone up, so it’s harder for me to recommend it against some of the other places in the area. However, if you have a hankering for these flavors it’s still your best bet.