According to Akin Akinsanya, it’s a good time to be eating African cuisine in New York City. “Chefs are getting a lot more creative and are trying new things,” he says. Which is why three years ago he founded New York African Restaurant Week. From May 31 to June 14, more than 30 restaurants from four boroughs will be on hand to offer three-course prix fixe meals, most priced at $28.95.
The event blossomed from its inaugural gathering of ten restaurants, all the while celebrating the best of African food, wine, and art. Akinsanya hopes eaters will explore, rather than stay too close to home. “I want folks to visit all of our participating restaurants, but we have a few hidden gems like Cafe Rue Dix in Brooklyn, Farafina Café in Hamilton Heights, Tagine in Hell’s Kitchen, and La Caye in Fort Greene. With the value the restaurants are providing, it will be possible for people to experience most of the restaurants on the list so that they can come up with their own favorites.”
Participating restaurants often get music and art into the mix, too, with belly dancing, Afrobeats, live art performances, and comedy shows, so the dining experiences “should be exciting and colorful,” Akinsanya says, as well as delicious.
Main events include the Ms. Iya Oge Food and Fashion Showcase on June 13, featuring a fashion show, appetizers, and drink specials. The Edible Bazaar Benefit on June 9 honors chef JJ Johnson of The Cecil in Harlem; Restaurateurs of the Year Sivan Baron Ouedraogo and Abdel Kader Ouedraogo of Yatenga French Bistro, Silvana, and Shrine; and Community Leader of the Year Yaf Boye-Flaegel of the ASB Foundation. Cocktails, signature dishes, African artisans, and a “surprise MC” round out the evening.
“Please just go out and explore the variety of restaurants and the various events that will be happening,” Akinsanya adds. “Africa influences everyday cuisine New Yorkers enjoy, so I hope the food, people, and the various events will excite and educate New Yorkers about how vast and colorful the African continent is. Tell your friends to come, share the table, and be part of the story.”
For a complete list of participating restaurants and events and to purchase tickets, visit NYARW.com