May 25, 2009

Africana restaurant review

okra sauce, maffe (peanut sauce), tomato sauce
©Andrea's easy vegan cooking

In the distant past, we've been members of two different vegetarian dinner groups. The first one was a macrobiotic group, and we met once a month for a potluck, usually at our house. It was a lot of fun and the food was always wonderfully delicious and healthy. And I loved that our kids could take part, and see that yes, there were other people who ate like we did. After the demise of that group, we joined another one that alternated between potlucks and restaurants. It was organized by a woman who was upset that we wanted to bring our children. (always well-behaved) An informal vote was taken and everyone wanted the kids included except for the leader. We tried to compromise by only bringing them once in a while, but the leader eventually decided not to come anymore, and guilt caused me to assume the role of organizer. She'd said it was a lot of work to keep the group going, and she was right. There just weren't enough interested vegetarians around to have more than 8–10 people show up for events, and even that was hard. We didn't have the benefit of a Web site, and organizing an event involved LOTS of phone tag. Eventually I passed on the "leader" role to someone else, and he gradually gave up. Many of the regulars moved away and it was hard recruiting new members.

We finally, now that we're just about to move away ourselves, found a new veg group with lots of members. We read about it in the local paper, which just goes to show you how (almost) mainstream vegetarianism has become. We recently attended our first event — a dinner at Africana that attracted 50 people! Africana is a restaurant specializing in West African cuisine. The food was interesting and tasty but there were a few rough spots concerning quantity, menu substitutions and slowness. I think the restaurant staff may have been overwhelmed with serving so many diners at once. The main dishes were basically sauces with a few veggies, served over rice and/or couscous. There was a 45 minute wait between finishing the first entrée and beginning the second, which made for a very long weeknight event.

alloco (fried plantain)
©Andrea's easy vegan cooking

For an appetizer we had alloco, or fried plantain, which tasted good but was very greasy. Then we were served three saucy dishes with rice and couscous. There was maffe which is a peanut-based sauce with veggies, okra sauce, and a piquant tomato and onion sauce with veggies. The last dish to arrive (after a 45 minute wait) was a vegetable stew.

vegetable stew
©Andrea's easy vegan cooking

Everything was vegan, which is always a treat in itself. Would I recommend Africana? If you are dining with omnivores, it might be a good place to go because of the wide variety of interesting food choices, but it doesn't specialize in providing vegetarian food, meaning the meat dishes look a whole lot better than the vegetable ones! The dishes were tasty, but basically seemed like sauce over rice. There wasn't anything to compensate for the lack of meat, like chickpeas or other legumes, and the veggies were a bit scarce.

To make your own version of a delicious peanut stew, try Spicy peanut stew.

©Andrea's easy vegan cooking


  1. you must be Wingraclaire's friend. Seattle is really awesome for vegan food. you'll have to look me up when you get here.

    Africana sounds really good, though the waiting part is a bummer.

    There are lots of different types of vegan meetups in seattle. I go to this one:
    (kids are welcome :).

    There is also one called veg families, I know a few people that go to it and they like it.

  2. Thanks for the tips about the meetups. Once we get settled I'll have to look into them. Our kids are now grown and two of them live in Seattle, so bringing them along is not the same as when they were young and we were "crashing" the veg group here!

  3. That all looks fabulous! I am going to add it to the dining suggestions on and link to your review. Thanks for posting this!

  4. Thanks for adding my review to your list, Alisa.


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