A smoky doorway in Dakar leads to one of the city’s great communal eating experiences.
In Sandaga Market, the bustling heart of downtown Dakar, smoke emanates from an unmarked doorway in a crumbling multistory building. Inside the dark and smoky interior is possibly the most interesting and least advertised restaurant in Dakar.
This is Bantyii, one of the best-loved dibiteries in Dakar. Dibi is Dakar’s top street food: simply marinated chunks of meat, usually from sheep but also including chicken and beef, skewered and cooked up over charcoal on basic metal grills and served with baguettes, onions, and mustard. This preparation is popular across the region and many Dakar dibiteries are run by foreigners, especially from the Hausa community in Niger. In fact, Bantyii is not a single restaurant but really a collection of six or seven grills run by different dibi experts from Niger, Mali, Guinea, and Senegal. The customers are just as diverse, from working people getting their day’s main meal to wealthy residents enjoying an appetizer before a fancy dinner.
Bantyii feels like a portal to the warm, tolerant heart of Dakar. Some people say this is the favorite dibiterie of Dakar’s musical legend, Youssou N’Dour; visit once, and you’ll understand why.
Know Before You Go
From the intersection of Avenue Place 52 and Avenue Jean Jaures, walk north up Ave. Jean Jaures past the large DISCOVER store and look for the smoky doorway on the right.
Bantyi is open late, until at least 11pm. Small sheep skewers go for under 50 CFA (10 cents), while more complex offerings like peanut-coated skewers, liver pieces, and big chicken chunks cost more.
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