Trying Senegalese Food For the First Time at Kilimandjaro

Out in West Philly, next to an erotic dvd purveyor is Kilimandjaro, a restaurant specializing in Senegalese food. Africa is probably the continent whose food I am least familiar with, and despite my many attempts, Ethiopian food has never rubbed me the right way, but I was hopeful that the French influence found in Senegalese cooking  might appeal to me.

I liked the decor inside, there was African art but it wasn’t cheesy.

Meat patties are $1.50, so I had to try one. They came out hot, with a flaky triangle shaped crust and ground meat filling. It tasted home made, the beef didn’t seem to be that low quality frozen stuff.

The lunch entrees I ate came in a big tin and were accompanied by  Styrofoam containers filled with rice. I didn’t love the picture of the entrees in their containers, so I took additional pictures of what they looked like mixed over the rice. There was a dollop of very spicy sauce in the corner of my rice container, so look out, you don’t want to get a mouthful of it, mix it up.

The names of all the lunch dishes were very unfamiliar to me. First was Mafe, lamb cooked with peanut butter ($9). Though the flavors were sort of one note, I liked  the warm peanut butter sauce. I thought it would be spicy but it was not at all; use that sauce from the rice to get your spice fix. I enjoyed the lamb, it was pretty tender and not gamey, though it was hard to look out for bones with all that sauce covering it. And watch out for that palm oil, a key ingredient in the dish, it gets everywhere.

Yassa with chicken (for $9, though it could also come with fish or shrimp for more $) comes with a ton of sautéed onions, along with garlic, lemon, black pepper, habenero, dijon mustard, and carrots. What could be bad about moist chicken covered with soft, fragrant onions?

If you enjoy ginger in your beverages DO NOT skip the homemade ginger juice. They wouldn’t even tell me all that does into this multi ingredient concoction, but when I guessed pineapple they admitted that it was in there.  It is so refreshing on a hot day, but I could also envision adding some rum to it for a different experience.

My final verdict is that I prefer the more subtle Senegalese cooking to the abrasive  Ethiopian use of spice, but I still require more African food experience to really know what I am talking about.

THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • I want to try Senegalese food
  • Very different preparations of entrees to choose from

THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • Not very much vegetarian options
  • I want spice in my sauce, not hidden in my rice

Kilimandjaro, 4317 Chestnut St (@ 43rd St), 215 387-1970



  • Yes, I once had a delicious meal here. But it ain’t pretty food.

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    That stuff sounds really good, but the third picture down made me laugh.

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    I really need to get out to West Philly more. This all sounds great to me. My main cuisinic crush is, and always will be, that of the Maghrebim, so I suppose it’s only natural I should eventually venture a bit further south on the continent. A shame I haven’t done much yet, myself, either…

    This needs to change very soon!

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