Sun-Thu, 11am-11pm; Fri-Sat, 11am-midnight
C at Lafayette Ave.
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Madiba is inspired by the nation's traditional shebeens—makeshift watering holes filled with drinking and boisterous conversation. The woodsy décor hits the right note with scrapped miscellany (a tricycle hanging here, a wagon wheel hanging there), mismatched flea market tables, tribal and contemporary art hanging haphazardly on the walls. But its slapdash design is only the surface: Madiba maintains detailed focus when it comes to food and service. While South African cuisine may be daunting—many of the dishes combine hot spices—those who venture shouldn’t be disappointed. The ostrich carpaccio has a melting texture, as does the flash-sauteed chicken livers peri-peri, prepared with chilies and onions. The prawns are enhanced by a rich white wine and saffron sauce, and the characteristic South African stew potjie bredie, served in an elevated, cast-iron pot, brings a touch of ritual to the meal. The festive, party-friendly mood is fueled by African pop and sweet house cocktails, and winds down happily with parting smiles and handshakes at the door.Extra
The name "Madiba" pays homage to Nelson Mandela and is used by South Africans to refer to country's first elected president.Recommended Dishes
Ostrich carpaccio, $15; chiken livers peri-peri, $13; safari platter (cured, dried, salted meat with nuts and fruit), $14; potjie bredie (seafood or meat stew), $22