I recently returned home from an eight-day vacation in Senegal, West Africa. I booked this trip last April with a travel company who promotes group trips. I didn’t know anyone on the trip but left with lifelong friends.
One of the main reasons I decided to book Senegal was because of the food. I knew there would be a ton of fresh, local seafood and the fact that jollof rice was invented in Senegal made it easy for me to choose this country as my first visit to the Motherland.
I went with very high expectations for the food and thankfully, they were met. I enjoyed a number of incredible meals during my stay and am happy to share everything I ate with you. But before we get started, let me just say that if you want authentic, Sengalese food, you have to be prepared to eat out of a communal bowl. I was not prepared to do this so the food I ate likely wasn’t as authentic, but was delicious and in my opinion, close enough.
We stayed at the Radisson Blu while in Dakar and due to its location, ate at the restaurant pretty often. My first meal in Africa was at this restaurant and I opted for the Catch of the Day, which was Dorado. It came with vegetables and a Mediterranean relish.
When It came out, I was surprised because I wasn’t expecting a whole, deep fried fish. I never order whole fish because bones freak me out. But I decided to put my fears aside and eat this fish, which looked and smelled amazing.
Honestly, it was the best thing I ate the entire trip. The fish was perfectly cooked, well seasoned and the relish was super vinegary which paired well with the fried fish. I had this dish a few more times and honestly fell in love with it.
This is a gorgeous restaurant directly above the water, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Seafood is the specialty here and there were many, many options. I opted for Spanish Style grilled catch of the day with vegetables and fries. The fish was grilled perfectly but lacked a bit of seasoning. The fries on the other hand were perfect. Actually, the fries were on point at every single restaurant in Senegal. Must be the French influence.
While the food didn’t blow me away, the setting is gorgeous and I imagine it would be fabulous to eat here at night while the sun sets. There is also a beach club where you can laze away for the day.
This was the restaurant I was most looking forward to eating at while in Dakar. We were supposed to have our farewell dinner here but ended up coming on our second night.
The menu had a ton of great options: pasta, lots of seafood, steaks, burgers and more. I decided to order the Catch of the Day and they offered me Grouper, Dorado or Thiof, a senegalse fish. I decided to try the Thiof.
This fish was grilled and topped with a garlicky, herb butter served on top of thinly sliced potatoes and tomatoes. It blew me away and was on par with the fish at Galuchat. It was also huge but since we had such a long day, I inhaled this entire fish and washed it down with a crisp, cold glass of Minuty rosé. In fact, I had rosé almost daily.
The vibe here was fantastic with great music and a lively outdoor patio. The service wasn’t the best but it was fine. I would definitely recommend it and come back next time I’m in Dakar.
Chez Poulot on Goree Island
This casual restaurant was my first experience with jollof rice. More specifically, Thieboudienne, which is Senegalese Jollof Rice and Fish, the national dish of Senegal. I took one bite of the jollof and started to dance. It was stupid wellllll, as we say in Bermuda, meaning very good.
The flavours were spicy, rich and just so well seasoned. The fish we enjoyed was Barracuda Steak. It was firm like wahoo (a popular meaty fish in Bermuda) and just so well seasoned and perfectly cooked. The veggies on the side included carrots, cassava, eggplant, cabbage, okra and a green tomato. I highly recommend trying Thieboudienne if you get to Senegal. I’ll be recreating it this weekend.
Every meal I had here was very tasty. The first meal I enjoyed was lunch and I decided on Chicken Yassa, another Senegalese specialty which is braised chicken with caramelized onions served with rice. So savoury, so flavourful and honestly super delicious.
The onions were the star here along with the super soft carrots and potatoes. The chicken was moist and well seasoned as well. I felt like I was eating the food from someone’s grandma’s kitchen. I’ll be recreating this dish as well.
I also enjoyed Thieboudienne here, which was prepared a little different than at Chez Poulot but still delicious.
Fish and Chips is something I rarely order, but I decided to try it here since I knew it wouldn’t be British-style. The fish was pan-seared Captain Fish and the chips were homemade. It was served with salad on the side. Lots of flavour and something I really enjoyed.
We dined here for our farewell dinner on the last night of the trip. This restaurant is unique because it’s at the base of a large lighthouse and overlooks the entire city. We were seated on the rooftop, which was perfect for spectacular views and seeing the band.
The menu was very French and included seafood, beef, tapas and many vegetarian options. I decided to enjoy steak instead of seafood for my dinner. It ended up being a bad choice because the menu said tenderloin and we got ribeye. I had to send my steak back as it was overcooked. I also got really sick later that night. Not sure if it was the food or what.
So I can’t recommend the food, but the vibe was great and I could see this being a fab late night spot. The band was great but the main singer, not so much. There is an entry cost here – 5,000 CFAs (about $8 USD), but it includes a drink so I wasn’t bothered.
Overall, I had amazing food in Dakar. I had very high expectations and I felt like they were met. And yall know I would never recommend anywhere I didn’t enjoy myself, so save this post if you find yourself in Senegal.
I‘m Mikaela, an island girl in Bermuda who’s obsessed with sharing gourmet food, fantastic wine and luxe experiences. If you love all things food and wine, click here to join my email list to get awesome recommendations.