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A street cook ladles beignets from a stuffed boiling pot into a strainer.
Beignets fried streetside.
Yasmine Fofana

The 17 Essential Dakar Restaurants

Grilled prawns on the beach, grilled meat skewers at a smoky local’s hangout, and more of the best things to eat in Dakar

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Beignets fried streetside.
| Yasmine Fofana

Located at the westernmost point of the African continent, Dakar is the largest city in Senegal, where colorful markets and great beaches are bustling year-round. Locals aren’t too busy to be friendly, though; the Senegalese capital has a reputation for being exceedingly welcoming, thanks to a deeply embedded culture of teranga, or hospitality. The cosmopolitan city keeps reinventing itself too, so there’s always something new to check out. In the last few years, Dakar has added a prominent new museum, the Museum of Black Civilizations; a new regional express train connecting the surrounding area; and new gathering places, like the Diamniadio Olympic Stadium.

Dakar’s multicultural food scene is an exploration of international cuisines, including a number of spots serving Cape Verdean cuisine, from the archipelago just 400 miles out to sea to the west. But one should really travel to Dakar to dive into the complex flavors of Senegalese specialities, like thiéboudienne (ceebu jën in Wolof, the most widely spoken language in Senegal). A point of national pride and the most popular local dish, the mixture of tomato-vegetable broth with broken rice and marinated fish was added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list in 2021. Even as Dakar has rapidly modernized, the culture remains deeply rooted in its traditions, constantly reflected in its food.

While some Senegalese will tell you the best dishes are savored only in a local’s home, many restaurants have adapted homey flavors for visitors as well. Look out for ancient grains such as millet or fonio, as well as lots of rice; locally grown vegetables like green beans, radish, and cauliflower; grilled meats, especially beef and lamb; and of course tons of seafood from the Atlantic Ocean all around.

A culinary content creator, Yasmine Fofana launched the first food blog of Côte d’Ivoire in 2012. Her mission is to shift the African narrative through the various cuisines and flavors of the continent.

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Mrs. Kodjo

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A vendor simply known as Mrs. Kodjo has been selling the most delicious beignets on the streets of Dakar for the past 20 years. Located in the Ouest-Foire neighborhood, her stall attracts a mixed crowd of locals. As you approach the stand, you’ll spot the energetic matron rolling balls of batter with her palm and dropping them in blisteringly hot oil. Crunchy on the outside, yet sweet and airy on the inside, the beignets are absolutely delicious. By Kodjo’s side, her two assistants cater to customers’ various other orders, such as akara, black-eyed pea fritters, and small turnovers filled with fish known as pastels or fatayas. 

A street cook ladles beignets from a stuffed boiling pot into a strainer.
Mrs. Kodjo’s famed beignets.
Yasmine Fofana

La Pointe des Almadies

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Tucked away at the far end of Les Almadies, this restaurant was a hidden gem a decade ago, but its reputation has spread all over the city. While the place is popular for its seafood paella and dishes from the wood-fired grills, check out the Thai beef with red curry and coconut milk, or the crab and shrimp gratin. Visit on the weekend for brunch and a dip in the pool.

A tower of brunch items topped with a slice of watermelon, overlooking a pool.
A brunch spread by the pool.
Yasmine Fofana

Le Carré

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This atmospheric spot buzzes with a relatively young crowd, partly thanks to the stunning views. The sunset calls for inventive cocktails like the sweet-and-sour Maad, a crowd-pleaser made with a local favorite fruit of the same name (also known as saba Senegalensis). Expect a mix of Senegalese and European cuisines, including slow-cooked lamb shank and mango curry prawns.

A whole fish beneath a layer of chunky sauce beside potato wedges.
Whole fish at Le Carré.
Yasmine Fofana

Le Cabanon

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Le Cabanon is located on the Petite Corniche, the road to Les Almadies, guaranteeing fantastic views of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s an evocative setting for the luxurious menu from chef Joshua Dobson. Start with the roasted goat cheese granola and beetroot salad, or the braised ox cheek with herbs. Then it’s onto the Provencal king prawns with pastis or the Angus rib-eye, before finishing with the creme brulee or the pain perdu. The restaurant is family friendly and open all day.

A closeup on a salad bright with sliced beets.
Salad at Le Cabanon.
Le Cabanon

Kéliba Cafe

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This family-run business, led by renowned Senegalese food blogger Aistou Cuisine and her sisters, prepares healthy, gluten-free, and vegan-friendly meals with fresh, seasonal ingredients, all while supporting local producers. Moringa, a plant known for its health benefits (vitamin C, potassium, calcium) is a star ingredient in several dishes, including moringa cookies and a moringa latte. Other options include Nioro du Rip — a wrap made with cowpea hummus — and Tekrour, a bowl made with shrimp, mango, corn, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and fonio, which adds a nutty flavor. Pair your meal with some refreshing baobab juice or a kinkéliba latte.

Skewers of meat presented on platters with various dips and breads.
Skewer platters at Kéliba.
Yasmine Fofana

Opened six years ago, Melo has built a strong following with its popular brunch and friendly staff, leading to an inevitable wait on weekends. Owner and pastry chef Anna Gueye Diagne brings in customers with appetizing baked goods like lemon pie and Oreo cheesecake, but there are plenty of savory items as well, including breakfast tacos, kebabs of tender and juicy roasted lamb, and vegan salads. Vintage touches like chandeliers and colorful velvet armchairs contribute a cozy feeling to the whole affair.

Deeply grilled fish meat from a skewer presented on a bed of chopped vegetables and shrimp.
The savory side of Melo.
Melo

Le Bazoff

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This bustling pub and restaurant is owned by Frederic Da Costa, a friendly Cape Verdean entrepreneur, who serves a range of Senegalese and African cuisines along with European dishes and vegetarian options. Start your meal with some light bites, such as marinated octopus with sweet pepper; seafood gratin with shrimp, prawns, and mussels; or a gizzard salad with poached egg. Then choose either the spiced ribs with honey or the minced meatballs. There are also Senegalese specials with creative twists, including a thiof (grouper) filet cooked with shrimp, and chicken yassa served with caramelized onions.

Lulu Cafe

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One of the most welcoming places in Dakar, Lulu is run by two cousins, the fourth generation in various furniture trades, and the place is named for their grandmother, who fell in love with Senegal 20 years ago. The eclectic space functions as a home goods store, a cafe for breakfast and lunch, and a coworking space for locals and expats. The daily menu brings treats like a jerk chicken bowl or sauteed prawns with herbs. Check out the deli/market area too, where you’ll find jams made with seasonal fruits, cashews, sourdough, and even some salt from the famous pink Lake Retba.

A sleek, airy, white-painted cafe interior with a chalkboard menu above the counter.
Inside Lulu.
Yasmine Fofana

Cassation

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Floodlights and fiery grills illuminate the beach between the Terrou Bi Hotel and the Court of Cassation, giving this group of seafood vendors its name. It’s a scenic place to dine on shrimp and prawns, as well as fresh fish such as sea bream or thiof (grouper). Pick out the vendor with the best-looking catch, select your meal from among the fish and seafood, and find your way to any of the available tables that line the beach while your dinner is cooked.

Skewers of shrimp and whole blackened fish on a bright coal grill.
Shrimp and fish on the grill.
Yasmine Fofana

Dibiterie Le Mboté

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Le Mboté is one of Dakar’s most popular dibiteries, a place specializing in dibi, the local grilled street meat of choice. This spot is relatively small, and as you step inside you are immediately welcomed by the warmth of the blazing fire in the roasting area, a giant hole in the wall. With sheep carcasses hanging overhead, cooks stay busy grilling meat seasoned simply with salt and pepper. Once cooked, the meat is cut into pieces and served with lots of onions and mustard in brown paper. Le Mboté has minimal seating, so you may wish to pick up your dibi to go.

A flurry of chopped grilled meat with onions on kraft paper.
Dibi at Le Mboté.
Najma Orango

Bante Yi

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Tucked into the Sandaga Market in Plateau, Bante Yi is famous for its barbecued skewers of meat and poultry. Streams of people and plumes of smoke come and go from the alley, where a handful of vendors are located. Inside, customers rotate on wooden benches set around various grills, as workers roast skewers of meat over strong charcoal fires. Accent your order with some mustard and a bit of kankan, a dry blend of several spices including ginger powder, chile powder, and pepper, which makes every bite of meat vibrant. Regulars will tell you that the Bante Yi experience is much better at night.

A stack of roasted meat skewers in front of a grill where more meat roasts.
Barbecued skewers at Bante Yi.
Yasmine Fofana

La Fourchette

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This iconic upscale restaurant was the first location for the Group La Fourchette, which runs several glitzy spots in Dakar. The place has been going strong for more than 25 years, but it has constantly reinvented itself over that time to keep customers interested. The menu is a blend of cuisines from all around the world, including Japan, Italy, Mexico, and France. The gnocchi with three cheeses and the seafood linguine are excellent paired with a lovely selection of wines.

Chez Loutcha

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Chez Loutcha is a family business in the Plateau area owned by Cape Verdeans, making a great place for comfort foods such as feijoada, a black bean stew often cooked with pork or lamb, and cachupa, a slow-cooked stew with hominy, dried beans, yucca, and salt pork or corned beef (the restaurant serves different kinds of cachupa, with or without meat, only on Thursdays). The portions are ridiculously generous.

Kotao Coffee

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It’s easy to become a regular at Kotao Coffee, especially since brunch is served every day. At two locations, one in Plateau and one in Les Almadies, the cafe offers relaxing vibes paired with fresh, homemade goods. Everything on the menu may sound tempting, but go for hits like the perky, savory waffle topped with avocado, turkey bacon, poached eggs, and creamy lemon sauce, or the bo-bun bowl with rice vermicelli, stir-fried beef, onions, and crushed peanuts. You don’t want to miss the banana bread with chocolate chips or the caramel macchiato.

From above, platters of eggs with potato and fruit salad, pancakes, and sausages.
Various dishes at Kotao.
Yasmine Fofana

Hotel Sokhamon

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The best side to a meal in Dakar is a breathtaking view of the Atlantic Ocean — especially with a refreshing drink by your side — at the open-air restaurant of the Hotel Sokhamon. The terrace makes an ideal spot to relax with popular Senegalese options such as mafé, a rich chicken stew made with peanut butter, as well as grilled fish, steak or chicken sandwiches, and ceviches. 

Le Beluga brings a taste of Peru to the heart of Dakar. The menu includes an array of ceviches and other seafood dishes depending on the catch of the day, but look for the ceviche criollo with aji amarillo (yellow Peruvian chile pepper) and anything with the restaurant’s truffle sauce. Salmon is a consistent star across the rest of the menu; try the spicy grilled salmon or the salmon poke with avocado and soy sauce.

A hand holds a small tray of three tacos filled with various fish combinations.
Taco trio.
Beluga

Oceanium de Dakar

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The Oceanium is a diving center and a bed-and-breakfast, but the bistronomy-focused restaurant is worth a visit on its own too. The kitchen team prides themselves in sourcing ingredients locally and supporting Senegalese farmers. Check out the fritto misto, Camembert roti, filet de kassaw (demoiselle) with passionfruit sauce, and gnocchis au pesto. 

Mrs. Kodjo

A vendor simply known as Mrs. Kodjo has been selling the most delicious beignets on the streets of Dakar for the past 20 years. Located in the Ouest-Foire neighborhood, her stall attracts a mixed crowd of locals. As you approach the stand, you’ll spot the energetic matron rolling balls of batter with her palm and dropping them in blisteringly hot oil. Crunchy on the outside, yet sweet and airy on the inside, the beignets are absolutely delicious. By Kodjo’s side, her two assistants cater to customers’ various other orders, such as akara, black-eyed pea fritters, and small turnovers filled with fish known as pastels or fatayas. 

A street cook ladles beignets from a stuffed boiling pot into a strainer.
Mrs. Kodjo’s famed beignets.
Yasmine Fofana

La Pointe des Almadies

Tucked away at the far end of Les Almadies, this restaurant was a hidden gem a decade ago, but its reputation has spread all over the city. While the place is popular for its seafood paella and dishes from the wood-fired grills, check out the Thai beef with red curry and coconut milk, or the crab and shrimp gratin. Visit on the weekend for brunch and a dip in the pool.

A tower of brunch items topped with a slice of watermelon, overlooking a pool.
A brunch spread by the pool.
Yasmine Fofana

Le Carré

This atmospheric spot buzzes with a relatively young crowd, partly thanks to the stunning views. The sunset calls for inventive cocktails like the sweet-and-sour Maad, a crowd-pleaser made with a local favorite fruit of the same name (also known as saba Senegalensis). Expect a mix of Senegalese and European cuisines, including slow-cooked lamb shank and mango curry prawns.

A whole fish beneath a layer of chunky sauce beside potato wedges.
Whole fish at Le Carré.
Yasmine Fofana

Le Cabanon

Le Cabanon is located on the Petite Corniche, the road to Les Almadies, guaranteeing fantastic views of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s an evocative setting for the luxurious menu from chef Joshua Dobson. Start with the roasted goat cheese granola and beetroot salad, or the braised ox cheek with herbs. Then it’s onto the Provencal king prawns with pastis or the Angus rib-eye, before finishing with the creme brulee or the pain perdu. The restaurant is family friendly and open all day.

A closeup on a salad bright with sliced beets.
Salad at Le Cabanon.
Le Cabanon

Kéliba Cafe

This family-run business, led by renowned Senegalese food blogger Aistou Cuisine and her sisters, prepares healthy, gluten-free, and vegan-friendly meals with fresh, seasonal ingredients, all while supporting local producers. Moringa, a plant known for its health benefits (vitamin C, potassium, calcium) is a star ingredient in several dishes, including moringa cookies and a moringa latte. Other options include Nioro du Rip — a wrap made with cowpea hummus — and Tekrour, a bowl made with shrimp, mango, corn, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and fonio, which adds a nutty flavor. Pair your meal with some refreshing baobab juice or a kinkéliba latte.

Skewers of meat presented on platters with various dips and breads.
Skewer platters at Kéliba.
Yasmine Fofana

Melo

Opened six years ago, Melo has built a strong following with its popular brunch and friendly staff, leading to an inevitable wait on weekends. Owner and pastry chef Anna Gueye Diagne brings in customers with appetizing baked goods like lemon pie and Oreo cheesecake, but there are plenty of savory items as well, including breakfast tacos, kebabs of tender and juicy roasted lamb, and vegan salads. Vintage touches like chandeliers and colorful velvet armchairs contribute a cozy feeling to the whole affair.

Deeply grilled fish meat from a skewer presented on a bed of chopped vegetables and shrimp.
The savory side of Melo.
Melo

Le Bazoff

This bustling pub and restaurant is owned by Frederic Da Costa, a friendly Cape Verdean entrepreneur, who serves a range of Senegalese and African cuisines along with European dishes and vegetarian options. Start your meal with some light bites, such as marinated octopus with sweet pepper; seafood gratin with shrimp, prawns, and mussels; or a gizzard salad with poached egg. Then choose either the spiced ribs with honey or the minced meatballs. There are also Senegalese specials with creative twists, including a thiof (grouper) filet cooked with shrimp, and chicken yassa served with caramelized onions.

Lulu Cafe

One of the most welcoming places in Dakar, Lulu is run by two cousins, the fourth generation in various furniture trades, and the place is named for their grandmother, who fell in love with Senegal 20 years ago. The eclectic space functions as a home goods store, a cafe for breakfast and lunch, and a coworking space for locals and expats. The daily menu brings treats like a jerk chicken bowl or sauteed prawns with herbs. Check out the deli/market area too, where you’ll find jams made with seasonal fruits, cashews, sourdough, and even some salt from the famous pink Lake Retba.

A sleek, airy, white-painted cafe interior with a chalkboard menu above the counter.
Inside Lulu.
Yasmine Fofana

Cassation

Floodlights and fiery grills illuminate the beach between the Terrou Bi Hotel and the Court of Cassation, giving this group of seafood vendors its name. It’s a scenic place to dine on shrimp and prawns, as well as fresh fish such as sea bream or thiof (grouper). Pick out the vendor with the best-looking catch, select your meal from among the fish and seafood, and find your way to any of the available tables that line the beach while your dinner is cooked.

Skewers of shrimp and whole blackened fish on a bright coal grill.
Shrimp and fish on the grill.
Yasmine Fofana

Dibiterie Le Mboté

Le Mboté is one of Dakar’s most popular dibiteries, a place specializing in dibi, the local grilled street meat of choice. This spot is relatively small, and as you step inside you are immediately welcomed by the warmth of the blazing fire in the roasting area, a giant hole in the wall. With sheep carcasses hanging overhead, cooks stay busy grilling meat seasoned simply with salt and pepper. Once cooked, the meat is cut into pieces and served with lots of onions and mustard in brown paper. Le Mboté has minimal seating, so you may wish to pick up your dibi to go.

A flurry of chopped grilled meat with onions on kraft paper.
Dibi at Le Mboté.
Najma Orango

Bante Yi

Tucked into the Sandaga Market in Plateau, Bante Yi is famous for its barbecued skewers of meat and poultry. Streams of people and plumes of smoke come and go from the alley, where a handful of vendors are located. Inside, customers rotate on wooden benches set around various grills, as workers roast skewers of meat over strong charcoal fires. Accent your order with some mustard and a bit of kankan, a dry blend of several spices including ginger powder, chile powder, and pepper, which makes every bite of meat vibrant. Regulars will tell you that the Bante Yi experience is much better at night.

A stack of roasted meat skewers in front of a grill where more meat roasts.
Barbecued skewers at Bante Yi.
Yasmine Fofana

La Fourchette

This iconic upscale restaurant was the first location for the Group La Fourchette, which runs several glitzy spots in Dakar. The place has been going strong for more than 25 years, but it has constantly reinvented itself over that time to keep customers interested. The menu is a blend of cuisines from all around the world, including Japan, Italy, Mexico, and France. The gnocchi with three cheeses and the seafood linguine are excellent paired with a lovely selection of wines.

Chez Loutcha

Chez Loutcha is a family business in the Plateau area owned by Cape Verdeans, making a great place for comfort foods such as feijoada, a black bean stew often cooked with pork or lamb, and cachupa, a slow-cooked stew with hominy, dried beans, yucca, and salt pork or corned beef (the restaurant serves different kinds of cachupa, with or without meat, only on Thursdays). The portions are ridiculously generous.

Kotao Coffee

It’s easy to become a regular at Kotao Coffee, especially since brunch is served every day. At two locations, one in Plateau and one in Les Almadies, the cafe offers relaxing vibes paired with fresh, homemade goods. Everything on the menu may sound tempting, but go for hits like the perky, savory waffle topped with avocado, turkey bacon, poached eggs, and creamy lemon sauce, or the bo-bun bowl with rice vermicelli, stir-fried beef, onions, and crushed peanuts. You don’t want to miss the banana bread with chocolate chips or the caramel macchiato.

From above, platters of eggs with potato and fruit salad, pancakes, and sausages.
Various dishes at Kotao.
Yasmine Fofana

Hotel Sokhamon

The best side to a meal in Dakar is a breathtaking view of the Atlantic Ocean — especially with a refreshing drink by your side — at the open-air restaurant of the Hotel Sokhamon. The terrace makes an ideal spot to relax with popular Senegalese options such as mafé, a rich chicken stew made with peanut butter, as well as grilled fish, steak or chicken sandwiches, and ceviches. 

Related Maps

Beluga

Le Beluga brings a taste of Peru to the heart of Dakar. The menu includes an array of ceviches and other seafood dishes depending on the catch of the day, but look for the ceviche criollo with aji amarillo (yellow Peruvian chile pepper) and anything with the restaurant’s truffle sauce. Salmon is a consistent star across the rest of the menu; try the spicy grilled salmon or the salmon poke with avocado and soy sauce.

A hand holds a small tray of three tacos filled with various fish combinations.
Taco trio.
Beluga

Oceanium de Dakar

The Oceanium is a diving center and a bed-and-breakfast, but the bistronomy-focused restaurant is worth a visit on its own too. The kitchen team prides themselves in sourcing ingredients locally and supporting Senegalese farmers. Check out the fritto misto, Camembert roti, filet de kassaw (demoiselle) with passionfruit sauce, and gnocchis au pesto. 

Related Maps