>> Zoodo African & American Restaurant | Eat the World NYC

29 September 2017

Zoodo African & American Restaurant


Newark is not a secret for neighborhoods full of culture and cuisine, but most people from out of town head to the Ironbound section east of downtown that is home to many Portuguese and Brazilian people. To the west of Broad Street is a concentration of West African and Caribbean restaurants, catering to the residents with roots in these countries. West Newark still has a bit of an image problem, but sit down for a meal at one of these places and your mind will be changed instantly.

The satellite above the awning of Zoodo reads "Africa TV." Wall posters inside advertise long-past Burkinabé events around town and bits and pieces of African or general tropical decor do their best to spruce up a rather bare environment. Small, colorful plastic gardening buckets are cut and hung upside down to make light fixtures. Five tables with four chairs apiece allow for plenty of diners, but unless you say so, it will be assumed that your order is for takeout.

A brief look at the menu will reveal West African favorites, the list of available dishes reads much like their neighbors in Senegal. As in many similar restaurants, more is available at dinner than at lunch, so ask what they have before setting your mind to something. After placing an order to stay, the dining room is comfortable on a pleasant day. The music shifts from reggaeton to West African and back to Caribbean. Overheard were songs from Puerto Rican, Gabonese, and Guadeloupean artists.

Above is an order of mafe ($10), also known as sauce arachide or peanut butter soup. The "side" of white rice is actually an entirely full container seen in the back, far too much for one to finish. Hunks of tender goat meat on the bone accompany the sweet sauce made of groundnuts, peanut paste, and tomatoes.

As the stomach fills up, it is fun to flip through the available copy of the African Abroad newspaper, a bi-weekly that covers as many countries as possible for expats and has advertisements of various African stores selling products throughout New York City and New Jersey.

Zoodo is located at the former location of Mimi's African Restaurant, which occupied the spot since at least the mid-aughts. The current awning shows up in the June 2015 Google Street View photo, so this Burkinabé owner has run things since at least that point.

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