The best restaurants for West African food in London
Here’s where to find Senegalese soul food, jollof rice, baobab cocktails and much more
Social eating is at the heart of West African communities from Banjul to Lagos, and everywhere in-between. You’ll find that same ethos in action at the many restaurants and bars run by the West African diaspora community across London, where you can expect hearty portions of authentic dishes, accompanied by cocktails or stout and often set to a party soundtrack. Here are some of our favourites in which to get your fix of West African staples and innovations. And we’ll leave you to ponder that ongoing and very hotly debated question: which country makes the best jollof rice?
Chuku's match the big flavours with bold colours / Image: Adam Scott
Quite the spread at Chuku's/ Image: NAF CASTANAS @adashandasplash
With vibrant décor, pulsating beats and a menu of innovative tapas dishes, Chuku’s has been responsible for creating much-deserved hype around Nigerian food in London. The sharing plates menu includes moi moi (a savoury steamed bean, red pepper and onion pudding), sinasir and miyan taushe (rice pancakes with a pumpkin pancake stew), an egusi bowl (bitter melon seed stews with cassava dumplings), and – in quite a bold move – jollof quinoa instead of jollof rice. Wash it all down with a glass of palm wine, a traditional tipple used to toast social occasions.
274 High Rd, Tottenham, London, N15 4AJ
If dancing is just as much of a priority for you as dinner, south London institution The Gold Coast should be top of your must-visit list. This upbeat gastropub serves authentic Ghanian snacks, such as yam balls, kelewele (deep-fried plantain with roasted peanuts) and kenkey (maize balls wrapped in corn leaves), as well as a vast selection of traditional mains. It also boasts a cracking live music programme, showcasing sounds that are just as authentically Ghanian as the food, including a funky take on Ghanaian highlife from regulars King Kay and the Music Messiahs, plus DJ sets if party tunes are more your thing.
224 Portland Rd, South Norwood, London, SE25 4QB
This Senegalese pop-up gained a lot of attention from London crowds thanks to its multi-course supper clubs, buzzing market stalls and live music events tied-in to a music management agency also run by the Baobab team. Menus vary, but are based around Senegalese soul food and usually include homemade cocktails with baobab and bissap (made from the hibiscus flower). Look out for akara (white bean fritters) served with hot sauce, peanut maffe (a rich stew with rice and salad), soupe kanja (okra stew) and beignets à la coco (sweet coconut fritters).
Location varies across London
Nigerian-style snacking at The Flygerian's
The super-fly interior of The Flygerian's
Heavy beats, tasty eats and strong cocktails are the specialities of this vibey Nigerian bar in Peckham Palms, a space for businesses run by Black women. The Flygerian sisters are famed for their hot and spicy wings, but you also shouldn’t miss the naija beans (black-eyed beans cooked in a rich tomato sauce) served with fried plantain. And then there’s the jollof rice (a favourite of local grime rapper Giggs) served with efo riro (spinach stew), beef, fried fish or prawns. And the rum punch is sure to have you strutting your stuff on the dancefloor by the end of the night.
Peckham Palms, 14 Bournemouth Close, London, SE15 4PB
Presentation is everything at Akoko / Image: Food Story Media Ltd
A meticulously prepared dish at Akoko / Image: Food Story Media Ltd
Akoko explores the richness and diversity of West African cuisine through elevated dining based on live-fire cooking – a self-explanatory technique that’s something of a hot topic in London at the moment. Curated tasting menus combine British seasonal produce with umami flavours found across West African cuisine, all of which you can sample in a six-course lunch or nine-course dinner, with dishes changing seasonally. Headline plates include Guinness bread with a rich yassa butter, jollof rice with Ivory Coast-style aubergine sauce and carrot terrine, egusi with lamb and charred greens, and grilled pineapple infused with citrus and tamarind. A great spot for special occasions.
21 Berners St, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 3LP
For a taste of Sierra Leonean cuisine and culture, grab a table at this unpretentious south London restaurant and bar. Afrobeat blaring through the speakers and bright colours all over the walls help create a party atmosphere that perfectly accompanies the mouth-watering food. The menu features dishes synonymous with West African cuisine, including puff puff (fried dough balls) and beef suya (grilled skewers), as well as a speciality fisherman’s soup served with pounded yam, commonly known as eba. Ibb’s is much-loved around the local area, proven by the many regular customers who use the restaurant to cater weddings and birthday parties.
6 Arnside St, Walworth, London, SE17 2AP
Known for its welcoming atmosphere and generous portions, Connie’s serves up all kinds of Ghanian favourites like koko (millet porridge with ginger) alongside a vast range of soups, stews and rice dishes. If you do visit Connie’s, make sure you try the fufu – starchy balls of pounded cassava or plantain, popular across the whole of West Africa and served in a green soup made from blended cocoyam leaves.
5-87 Woodgrange Rd, Forest Gate, London, E7 0EP
Tasty African Food
One of the many treats on offer at Tasty African Food
Established in south-east London’s Woolwich in 2000, Tasty African Food has grown to over 20 locations, making it one of the UK’s largest West African food chains. The menus aim to promote African culture through authentic, affordable cuisine, which has helped it become a firm favourite amongst West African families. Graze on moin moin (a savoury steamed bean pudding), pies and crispy rolls or fill up on specials like grilled tilapia, Togolese beans (mashed black beans with spicy red pepper sauce) and yam pottage (a veg-packed soup or stew).
Multiple locations across London