Lucky diners will find Gorée Cuisine at 1126 E. 47th Street. Passersby may not take notice of the unassuming storefront, and most UChicago students may have never heard of it, but those fortunate enough to venture inside will be in for a treat. The responses of the numerous friends I have brought to Gorée range from expressions of pleasant surprise to those of sheer ecstasy, and everyone has become a returning customer.
Owner Adama Ba modeled Gorée Cuisine after a similar restaurant owned by his family on Gorée Island in Dakar, Senegal. The Senegalese staff are gracious and accommodating. The restaurant proudly displays Senegalese culture, with Senegalese paintings decorating the walls and TVs showing West African music videos and clips of Senegalese wrestling. There is even a clothing store, Gorée Shop, that sells Senegalese clothing next door.
Though originally unfamiliar with Senegalese food, I have tried every item on the menu by now, and can vouch that every dish is tremendous. My personal favorite is the maffe, a peanut-butter-and-tomato stew that comes with lamb (though there is also a vegetarian option). While initially skeptical about the combination, I was won over by the creamy, savory mixture that complements the white rice nicely.
Although everything is delicious, some highlights are the Dibi chicken—a simple but delicious dish of grilled chicken with peppers and onions, spiced to perfection—and the Méchoui (leg of lamb). Two of my friends who ordered this dish described it as “the best leg of lamb I ever had,” and “possibly the best meal I ever had.” Additionally, I highly recommend the whole grilled tilapia—even though I hate tilapia and dislike eating whole fish, this was one of the best pieces of fish I’ve ever eaten. The Thiou curry, which is similar to Indian curry and which comes with chicken or lamb, or as a vegetarian dish, is also a strong option.
Sides are a must, and, luckily, every entrée comes with a free side. You can’t go wrong with any of the choices. The fully caramelized plantains are possibly the best plantains I’ve ever had. The sautéed cabbage may sound bland, but is actually very tasty. The djolof rice, a Senegalese staple, and the scrumptious attiéké (cassava couscous) are also terrific.
Portions are large and very filling, and all the dishes are reasonably priced, ranging from $12.50 to $20 for main courses.
Gorée Cuisine is a highlight of the Hyde Park dining scene and should not be missed. I encourage everyone to try it. You won’t regret it.