Portrait of child hiding behind grains. Senegal by World Bank Photo Collection via Flickr Creative Commons

Senegal’s official dish is a fish and rice concoction called thebou diene, accompanied by either white or red sauce, which locals usually eat with their hands around a communal bowl. A thebou diene variation called diagga comes with fish balls and extra sauce. The sauces are what make most other Senegalese chicken and fish dishes special, especially the onion and lemon sauce called yassa and meat cooked in rich peanut sauce known as maafe. These dishes are more safely sampled at Senegalese homes or restaurants rather than street vendors, who sometimes prepare their food in unsanitary conditions. Western cuisine can easily be found in Dakar, St Louis, and the Petite Côte’s hotel restaurants. Alcohol is easier to find than pork on most restaurant menus in this predominantly Muslim country.

Bars and Pubbing in Senegal

Palm wine as well as two local beers called Gazelle and Flag are the most commonly served alcoholic drinks at most Dakar watering holes, many of which host frequent live performances by Senegal’s most talented mbalakh artists. Giant palm trees are painted on one of the walls at the Vietnamese-themed Le Hanoi (108 Joseph Gomis Street, Dakar), while popular expat hangout Le Viking (Avenue Pompidou, Dakar) is best known for its pricy drinks and weekend live music nights.

The historic island at St Louis is the location of most bars in Senegal’s original capital, but mainland watering holes are generally cheaper. L’Embuscade (Rue Abdoulaye Seck, St Louis) is among the most popular St Louis nightspots, serving creative house made cocktails, offering, live music, and staying open well into the following morning. Another well-frequented St Louis bar, Le Comptoir (Quai Roume, St Louis) features a pool table and the city’s biggest bar within a seaside historic building.

Senegal’s seaside Petite Côte contains the country’s biggest amount of bars outside of its major cities. The bright yellow building of Le Soleil de Saly (Route de la Somone, Saly) is impossible to miss for most visitors to Senegal’s best known beach resort. The atmosphere inside this bar, which hosts three weekly music nights, is as bright as its yellow exterior. Another popular Petite Côte drinking spot, Auberge Le Treizeguy (P. O. Box 2360, M’Bour) includes both a beach bar and intimate indoor bar.

Dining and Cuisine in Senegal

None of Dakar’s numerous restaurants serve a greater variety of international cuisines than Chez Loutcha (101 Mousse Diop Street, Dakar), but its most recommended signature dishes come from the tiny island of Cape Verde. Le Bambou (19 Victor Hugo Street, Dakar), is one of Dakar’s finest French restaurants, while La Pizzeria (47 Abdou Karim Bourgi, Dakar) is the place to satisfy Italian food cravings in Senegal’s capital.

The island of St Louis contains most of the city’s restaurants. However, one popular mainland offering, Nice Burger (Malick Gaye Avenue, St Louis) serves some of the city’s greatest hamburgers. La Saigonnaise (Abdoulaye Seck Lodo Street, St Louis) serves the city’s best Vietnamese cuisine at the island’s northern tip, while diners can enjoy Moroccan or Senegalese dishes beneath an outdoor tent at La Restaurant Marocain El Falah (Jean Mermoz Avenue, St Louis).

Some of Saly’s most popular restaurants include the Le Zanzibar (Route de la Somone, Saly) tapas bar and the La Riviera (Route de Saly, Saly) Moroccan restaurant which holds Saturday Arabic dancing performances. Saturday is also live music night at the Safari Beach (Residence Safari Village, Saly) restaurant, where diners can enjoy lovely Atlantic Ocean coastal views along with their Italian, French, or seafood meals.

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