African Restaurants and Food in Philadelphia

Kilimandjaro owner Youma Bah | Photo by Neal Santos

Kilimandjaro owner Youma Bah | Photo by Neal Santos

There are no two ways about it: African food is tough on dilettantes. It’ll confront you with vegetables you’ve never heard of, meat that runs from tough to tender to straight-up cow skin, and starches that bewilder your attempts to choose a utensil. And for eaters not seeking already-acquired tastes of home, Philly’s African restaurants can be hit-or-miss. But no other realm rewards the adventurous with more fascination and deliciousness.

Start baby-step-style at Kilimandjaro (4317 Chestnut Street, 215-387-1970), which despite its East African namesake serves Senegalese food, including a mustardy, sweet-onion-draped yassa chicken that’s among the best in town. Grilled lamb chops dressed with sweet peppers and onions are what to get at Sahara (6528 Woodland Avenue, 215-727-0812), where the cooking is Malian and the portions are huge. And now that you’re already smack in Philly’s Africana epicenter, try African Small Pot (6505 Woodland Avenue, 267-713-7603), run by a globe-trotting Mauritanian who does right by thiebou dien — which you could think of as paella with twice the concentration and spice.

Read more »

Tale of the Tape: Center for Culinary Enterprises

The Dorrance H. Hamilton Center for Culinary Enterprises, the new food incubator from the Enterprise Center, was ceremonially opened just last week at 48th and Spruce Streets. As and HiddenCity are reporting, the large property will be home to multiple commercial kitchens for food entrepreneurs and small business to use in order to launch or accelerate their businesses. State of the art equipment and high tech facilities mean Philly has a breeding ground for its next generation of food industry leaders. Read more »

International Food Around Philadelphia

View The World on Your Doorstep in a larger map
In the magazine’s January issue on food neighborhoods we also highlight neighborhoods in Philadelphia for the best ethnic foods. From Injera and Kitfo to Baklava, Tom Kha and Tempeh, here’s where to score Philadelphia’s best ethnic dishes.

Check out our accompanying Google Map where there is much more detail on each Indian restaurant, Vietnamese spot and ethnic grocery mentioned.

World at Your Doorstep [Google Maps]

Kaffa Crossing

Brian Freedman hits another ethnic restaurant, this time it’s Kaffa Crossing, an Ethiopian spot in West Philadelphia where the injera is the thing.

The backbone of the experience, however, is injera, the spongy, pliant Ethiopian bread that plays a crucial role in many meals. At Kaffa, it’s an addictive miracle, hearty but not heavy and kissed with a vaguely sour note that brings even more life to food scooped up with it.

Look Both Ways at Kaffa Crossing [Philadelphia Weekly]

Ethiopian At Kaffa Crossing

Kaffa Crossing
Craig LaBan discovers a coffee shop where home-spun Ethiopian food is the star. Kaffa Crossing in West Philadelphia is a hit for the 7,000 Ethiopians in the area as well as local adventure eaters like LaBan and company.

But the real double-take came when we asked for our kitfo to be left raw. Essentially, kitfo is Ethiopian steak tartare, a mince of lean raw beef blended with spiced butter. But most local restaurants begin cooking their kitfo, usually without asking, the minute an American places his order – and then it’s little more than a hopped-up sloppy joe.

Tasting the kitfo raw is the ultimate barometer for the level of an Ethiopian kitchen – where the true quality of its meat and the chef’s mastery in spicing are put on naked display. And Kaffa’s kitfo was an adventure eater’s delight. The finely chopped beef, mounded over injera next to some pleasantly bitter steamed collard greens, was so fresh it was almost like an exotic melon. Glossed to a deep ruby hue by clarified butter infused with a musky spice called “mitmita,” a complex and traditional seasoning blend, each bite rang with shades of ginger, cloves, cardamom and a finishing snap of chile spice.

Two Bells – Very Good

Kaffa Crossing [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Kaffa Crossing [Official Site]