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David Rosenzweig, David Rosenzweig
David Rosenzweig, David Rosenzweig
David Rosenzweig, David Rosenzweig
David Rosenzweig, David Rosenzweig
David Rosenzweig, David Rosenzweig
Fort Greene
To be New York’s first and only anything is impressive, so respect is due to this convivial South African eatery—Brooklyn’s first—named for an honorary title bestowed upon Nelson Mandela. Wooden chairs and folk art grace the high-ceilinged space, and music ranges from Afrobeat to Afropop. The menu features fragrant curries and stews, as well as offbeat eats like thin, pleasantly gamey ostrich carpaccio and spicy prawns piri piri. The safari platter, loaded with cured, salted and dried beef tenderloin, is a feast worthy of Mandela himself.
Venue name: Madiba
Address: 195 DeKalb Ave
Cross street: between Adelphi St and Carlton Ave
Opening hours: Daily 10am–midnight
Transport: Subway: C to Lafayette Ave, G to Clinton–Washington Aves
Price: Average main course: $19. AmEx, Disc, MC, V

Average User Rating

3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:0
  • 4 star:0
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
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I have eaten at Madiba a slew of times over the years since I live in Fort Greene and always enjoy the experience - both the food and the ambiance.

The decor is quite unique and certainly an homage to the late Nelson Mandela, it is also bright, colorful and transporting. I think every time I have eaten here, the general manager (or perhaps he is one of the owners) has greeted me upon entry with a big smile and a comfortable yet enthusiastic vibe. Seating is a bit mixed depending on your party size, and most recently I was there with a friend and we sat near the windows on the brick walled side. In the summer, the place is bright and airy and boasts outdoor seating as well. 

There were 2 or 3 birthdays being celebrated the night I was there - we wondered if perhaps that was a requirement of the evening! - one with a big party (maybe 12-15) down the center of the restaurant having quite a joyous time. That kind of celebratory energy seems perfect for this laid back South African outpost.

The food - I am a bit of a creature of habit here and always get the curries. I enjoy them and find them well spiced (I see this has been argued by some fellow reviewers) and definitely filling. You have a choice of veggie, chicken, lamb or seafood (ranging from $16-$22) and your choice of preparation (curry and rice, durban bunny chow, breyani or roti). I tend to get either veggie or lamb with the curry and rice. This time I had the lamb. I like this preparation because the curry is served in a separate bowl from the rice and you can mix it as you wish. Also, with every curry entree, you get their side selection of sambals (condiments) which are: mango chutney, something like a salsa fresca, cucumber with mint and yogurt, and a coconut banana and milk mixture. I am obsessed with the pickled mango in this condiment list and you can actually buy it from the restaurant - they have a small "store" at the entrance to the restaurant with some authentic South African food items not readily available in a grocery store - brilliant! Before our entrees, we shared the ostrich carpaccio appetizer (I had never tried ostrich before) and it was extremely tasty - topped with olive oil, salt, pepper, some mache and "farm cheese" wedges. We topped the meal off with a bottle of Noble Hill sauvingnon blanc which claimed to "explode with gooseberry" - it was pleasantly fruity without being sweet.