Fort Greene restaurant serving South African cuisine
Madiba Restaurant is probably one of the very oldest cultural restaurants residing in Fort Greene. Dedicated to South African cuisine, it is safe to say that a lot of what you will be eating there is not going to be what you are used to from other places. Madiba was established in 1999, and takes pride in its dedication to Nelson Mandela -- the president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. Expect to see a large array of political activism coming from the restaurant. Madiba brings is brings in a large crowd. Whether it be from the restaurant being rented out for parties, popular soccer events, or even if the weather just so happens to be nice on a specific night, you are guaranteed to find the sidewalk in front of Madiba flooded with customers talking, laughing and even sharing the casual social drink. Although Madiba is purely a South African cuisine restaurant, it honors art and music coming from many different Carribbean and African nations, so it also seems to bring together remnants of Fort Greenes formerly large African American population. This place truly brings the community together both culturally and socially.
This little restaurant stands out among the rest along the avenue. While you have many restaurants that are lined up and decorated to blend with the others, you also have Madiba, which is squished between two much taller buildings (one being an extension to the restaurant). The exterior is lined with potted shrubs and tables for outdoor dining. The inside is decked in a large array of portraits of South African figures, political artwork, South African weapons and trinkets. The entire layout of the interior is meant to replicate informal dining halls that can be found all around South Africa (they are known as "shebeen"), where most of the furniture is wooden. There is also an island-shaped bar inside where most of the life and noise comes from on the most successful nights. Without each of these features to give the restaurant its personality, Madiba would not be as successful at bringing people. The Shebeen-style layout really enhances the experience of the restaurant. Madiba plays a vital part in bringing culture to Fort Greene. (November 2012)