>> Berber Street Food | Eat the World NYC

27 September 2018

Berber Street Food


Without a ton of experience in Northern and Western Africa, one is likely to think of the Sahara Desert when you imagine Berber culture and people. Morocco and Algeria have the most, but traveling through the region finds that there is a spread east as far as Egypt and south down through Mali and Niger to Burkina Faso.

This spread of culture and people is part of the theme of Berber Street Food, a tiny new spot in the West Village run by a chef originally from Mauritania but interested in the foods of all its neighbors. Sometimes these dishes are related to and/or inspired by Berber peoples, but sometimes they take further steps to places like Nigeria or the Caribbean. It is almost a small thesis on how all this food has expanded and grown through centuries of movement and forced displacement. In one visit it is impossible to explore it all, although it makes me think of an expanding array of chefs that are proud to show off not just their own foods to our city, but those of their entire continent. It is an inspiring and exciting time in New York City.

A decorative bowl of scotch bonnet peppers, ubiquitous in West Africa.

On one wall, a photo collage of many African countries seen through the eyes of the chef looks over the space and offers a glimpse back to where much of this inspiration comes from. Her country of Mauritania is there, but many others share equal footing. They are all there on the menu as well, with Moroccan tagines, Senegalese jollof, Nigerian meat skewers, and North African shawarma.

Most interesting to me on the first visit was obviously the Berber feast ($24, below), four hour roasted leg of lamb that is served with couscous, grilled peppers and gourds, a sweet onion gravy, and three spices that bring various levels of heat.

The foods served defy the fast casual counter order setup of the place, as does the concern of Chef Tandia who works the front of the operation and makes sure everyone that sits down has exactly what they want.

While I was seated during the lunch rush, every other customer came in for her Afro-fusion express bowls or sandwiches, which make for quick $10 meals. I heard oohs and aahs while others ate them nearby and do not doubt their deliciousness, but somehow the more traditional foods of the "House Specialties" menu are probably the main attractions from this talented chef.

Berber Street Food Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


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