African restaurants are few and far between in the Triangle, this we already know. But how often do you enjoy a chance to sample food from an entire continent? Mawa’s Taste of Africa (Morrisville, North Carolina) offers diners just that. On the menu, you can find dishes from “Tunisia to South Africa and from Senegal to Ethiopia (from restaurant website).”
Mawa’s Taste of Africa is located in a small strip mall in Morrisville. Inside, the decor is, for the most part, simple and unmemorable, but clean and tasteful. Tables and chairs fill the small dining area. However, there is one seating area in which guests can sit on the floor and enjoy a more traditional African eating experience. This slightly enclosed seating area seats about 8-10 guests and features African prints on the benches and cushions. This would be the place to sit if you were here for the first time and wanted to enjoy all the restaurant offers. There is also an outdoor patio for those mild nights.
The decor is the only thing that is unmemorable, however. The service is incredible. From the moment I walked through the door at Mawa’s Taste of Africa, I was treated like a family member. I was greeted warmly. The waitress and hostess seemed thrilled to meet me. I also found through the course of the evening that the staff had opened the restaurant just to accommodate the group I was with. That day, they had participated in the Raleigh African-American festival in downtown Raleigh and had planned to keep the restaurant doors closed for the day. But when my group called to make the reservation, they opted to open just so we could enjoy their service.
Throughout the evening, the staff continued to offer great service. They dressed in traditional African clothing. Rarely have I been treated in such a warm, welcoming way at a restaurant.
The food was also excellent. Each item on the menu is clearly marked with the country it represents. For drinks, I chose the sweet Moroccan mint tea. Other drinks on the menu include a ginger lemonade, mint and lime tea, and bissap (a traditional hibicus punch). For dinner, I chose the Soheir’s platter, which comes from Egypt. It came with a lamb kebab, sliced lamb meat, fried plantains (African fries), baba ganouj, cracked wheat salad, and pita bread. This all came at a reasonable cost of $14. Everything was delicious, and I mixed everything together to combine the flavors.
There were so many other great options on the menu: pizzas, salads, soups and stews. There were dishes that featured chicken, goat, and seafood. The menu offers vegan dishes, as well. Everything comes with pita bread and their delicious dipping sauce and friend plantains.
At the end of the evening, our hostess brought out a special treat called Mbourou Faas, which is a Mawa’s Taste of Africa specialty. This had a banana flavor, with some ice cream on top, with a banana caramel sauce. These she served on the house as a token of her appreciation for us coming to her restaurant.
Throughout the evening, the waitress and hostess continued to come and check on us, making sure we had everything we needed. Drinks were filled at a good rate. In short, I had everything I needed or wanted to enjoy a special night out with my friends.
Mawa’s Taste of Africa offers other services, such as a catering service, clothing alterations and African tailor, gift shop, and store. I can’t really comment on these services since I didn’t experience them, but if they are run by the same people as the restaurant, I can only imagine the excellent level of service they would provide to patrons.
For a unique dining experience where one can enjoy African cuisine, I would highly recommend Mawa’s Taste of Africa.