With their generous servings of fresh grilled fish with Creole sauce, or sophisticated French or Lebanese-influenced dishes, Dakar’s restaurants will definitely tickle your taste buds. The dishes are often a feast for the eyes, as are the views offered of the Atlantic Ocean and its sweeping, surf-pounded coastline. Here are ten of the best spots in the city to dine in scenic surroundings.
Rooftop views at La Madeleine
Those in the know head to the Clinique de la Madeleine for more than medical appointments, they do so to enjoy the sun on its seventh floor rooftop café set. It’s one of the few, if not the only place to take in both views of the ocean and the old town’s colonial buildings from high above. Try a mixed salad with ingredients of your choice, or the daily lunch special, which varies from rich lasagna to Senegalese dishes such as yassa poulet (marinated and grilled chicken with an onion sauce, served with rice).
Beach life at Le Relais Sportif
On the Cornishe West beachfront − where people run or do calisthenics in the sand, in what is a daily display of Senegal’s sports-loving craze − lies one of Dakar’s great eateries. Popular with the Dakarois, Le Relais Sportif (au-senegal.com) is one of the few non-hotel restaurants in the area. With tables looking over the ocean it’s the perfect spot for a succulent monkfish skewer with a Gazelle (Senegalese beer), and for taking in the bustling beach life unfolding in front of you.
Boat dining at Le Lagon I
Built on stilts and reminiscent of a luxury boat, Le Lagon I (lelagondakar.com) offers stunning views of Gorée Island and the ocean. There is a wide choice of seafood, from king prawns to langoustines, and a large cocktail menu including some delicious non-alcoholic options. Chose an outdoor table if you'd like to dine to the soothing sounds of crashing waves beneath your feet and to enjoy a refreshing breeze even on the hottest days. In the evening, Le Lagon I and its surroundings boast a spectacle of lights.
Garden Oasis at Le Bideew
Le Bideew is a vibrant oasis and a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the old town’s crowded, dusty streets. Nestled in the garden of the Institut Français Léopold Sédar Senghor, with views of a big canopy tree in which colourful lizards are always busily doing push-ups, the restaurant offers both Senegalese and French-influenced food. The menu ranges from grilled fish to chicken burgers, or tempura veggies with guacamole. Come after enjoying a movie in the centre’s cinema or on a Friday or Saturday evening, when there is often a concert.
Art meets food at La Calebasse
La Calebasse (facebook.com/Restaurant-La-Calebasse) is an art gallery-cum-restaurant in Mamelles. Wander past collections of West African paintings, masks and life-size metal statues, and around a sweeping chandelier made out of countless calabashes (a gourd-like fruit) as you walk up the staircase to this top floor restaurant. Sit on the roofed terrace to sample some local dishes such as Senegal’s national favourite, the thieboudienne (seasoned fish served with rice in a tomato-based sauce, mixed with carrots, cabbage and eggplant).
Island vibe at Noflaye Beach
Not far from Le Ngor, Noflaye Beach restaurant (facebook.com/Noflaye-Beach) is an unpretentious place with an island vibe about it – think upgraded surfers’ shack set right on the beach. Here, a leisurely weekend lunch can easily stretch into late afternoon as you move from your table to the chaises lounges on the restaurant’s little private beach. Take a dip, bask in the sun with a good book, and continue to indulge in some fresh seafood, savory galletes or light crepes, all with your feet still in the sand.
Ocean views and cocktails at Sokhamon Hotel
Walk a few minutes towards the waterfront from the IFAN Museum of African Arts and you’ll find Hotel Sokhamon (hotelsokhamon.com), a bright building in Gaudí-esque style, with a Moroccan-meets-Mediterranean infused decor. On its terrace, lean back on the chunky but comfortable leather armchairs to enjoy a cocktail, nems (spring rolls) and fish skewers. Come in the evening to take in splendid views of the sun gliding into the glistening waters of the Atlantic behind the Îles des Madeleines.
A taste of the Caribbean and salsa
Set in the outer suburb of Sacre Coeur, New Africa restaurant (facebook.com/newafricarestaurant) is not the easiest place to find, but it’s well worth the effort. The cuisine is a mix of Caribbean, French and Moroccan influences. The decor includes a white piano, African drums and an intimate garden patio, which gets lively on Friday evenings with a salsa loving crowd. To avoid getting lost, instruct the taxi driver to head towards the nearby ‘Boulangerie Jaune’.
Sea-inspired wonderland at Le Ngor
Set on a beach road in Dakar’s expat haven of Almadies, where new bars and restaurants mushroom at a dizzying speed, Le Ngor is an old-time favourite. Here quirky, animal-shaped metal sculptures, shell adorned pillars, and blue and green walls offer a cozy backdrop. When you manage to take your eyes off the ocean stretching out in front of you and are ready to order, you’re met with a wide range of dishes, from seafood and big mixed salads topped with chicken skewers to fresh mango milkshakes and ice cream.
Poolside wine at Radisson Blue
Part of the Radisson Blue Hotel (radissonblu.com), this poolside restaurant and bar offers views of the ocean, live music at night and a decent choice of international food: pizzas, salads, hamburgers, as well as a variety of seafood dishes and an extensive list of wines. The cozy sofas on the edge of the pool are great for a pre- or post-meal glass of wine. In the evening, marvel at the bluest shades of the pool stretched out above the ocean, amidst a dance of lights.