La Savane

While they re-wired our office on Tuesday of last week, we all worked remote.  Rather than spend my lunch break grabbing an overpriced salad, I took the opportunity to explore my new neighborhood – after all, we’d only been living there for a single day so I needed to get the lay of the land.

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One of my favorite parts about my new neighborhood is the convergence of cultures.  Harlem is home to all sorts of different people, most of whom have retained their traditions.  I wanted to take advantage of this, rather than just getting a basic sandwich.  That’s how I stumbled into La Savane.  When I saw two other people walking in, speaking French, I had a good feeling about the place.  If this was where the Senegalese were going to get their Senegalese fix, that’s where I wanted to be.


La Savane prepares West African food, and serves it in massive portions.  The menu isn’t huge, but it’s tasty and the flavors are authentic.  I went with the gumbo because…well, because of everything on the menu it’s the dish I was most familiar with.  That said, this is not like the gumbo of the Lowcounty.  The okra is still slimy (so if that’s not your thing, maybe go with a different dish) and there are large chunks of meat on the bone.  It’s not the gumbo I’m used to, but it was very good and cool to taste what the gumbo from my own Southern culture evolved from.

Note: my French came in handy here because I was able to speak to the waitress to learn what some of the menu items were when she couldn’t explain in English.  That’s how I now know placali is like a mash of starchy foods.

This is definitely the kind of place to go when you want to branch out with no frills, which is kinda why we moved to Harlem in general.

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