From West Africa with Love in the Bronx

In a borough rich in African cooking, Patina stands out. "You'll find more carefully and lovingly prepared food here," NewYorkNewHaven reports on Chowhound (and he would know, having covered the Bronx beat for Serious Eats).

The pan–West African menu—comprising dishes from Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, and Togo—includes a killer specialty that's hard to find in New York's African restaurants: banga soup (pictured), made from ground palm nuts. The thick, ruddy sauce, which seasons a generous portion of tender stewed goat, is deep and complex, combining robust chile heat, the funk of dried fish, and a musky note from palm oil. "It's invigoratingly but overwhelmingly spicy and quite unlike anything else I've eaten," NewYorkNewHaven says—and if you like, the friendly chef-owner, Tina, might just treat you to an extra bowl of it.

Another West African specialty, spinach stew, is uncommonly well seasoned, offering bright heat from habaneros and briny depth from fish, both dried and fresh. Cassava or plantain fufu or other starchy staples come on the side. You can also sample a few other relative rarities at Patina, including spiced-fish rolls, kelewele (spicy fried plantain), and donutlike puff puffs.

Patina African Restaurant [Bronx]
823 E. 169th Street (near Prospect Avenue), Bronx
718-378-7700

Photo of Patina's banga (palm nut) soup and plantain fufu by Mark Hokoda