Le Conakry, one of Chicago's only Guinean restaurants, is a ruby buried in Rogers Park. The tiny cafe is lit up with bright yellow walls and vibrant African music. The family-run restaurant offers authentic West African fare, specializing in the traditional dishes from Guinea and Senegal. The food is cooked fresh while you wait (which might be a bit longer than expected) but at least you are served tasty fataya boeuf
— pastries stuffed with beef — so you don’t get cranky while you are waiting.
The menu, which is written in French with English descriptions below, offers petit dejeuner (breakfast), dejeuner (lunch), and diner (dinner). The prices are quite reasonable and the food not only sticks to your ribs, but is served in generous portions. Breakfast offers a cafe au lait with every plate — either an omelette, pain au buerre, or corned beef ($3-6). Lunch is served with rice or couscous and ranges in price from $9-$11. A specialty on the menu, maffe Tegga avec Poulet, is a stew made with peanut butter, chicken, legumes and "French ingredients." The menu often lists "French ingredients" or "French spices," which adds to its allure; you can imagine these are secret family recipes.
Other options include yassa Poulet — chicken with onions, legumes, French ingredients, and rice. For dinner, Le Conakry offers Brochette de Beouff/Poulet — skewers of seasoned beef or chicken, served with a salad and fried plantains. Le Conakry is BYOB, but offers a variety of juices, including orange, pineapple and homemade Bissap juice — which is a delicious bouquet of flavors made from hibiscus flowers.
A.L. Balde, the owner of Le Conakry, says they chose to name the restaurant after the namesake city in Guinea, a port abuzz with people exchanging and interacting. Looking around the small restaurant, this holds true — as the rooms are filled with a community of people stopping in to say hello to the owners or visit friends. To further this concept, Balde has opened a conference hall in an adjoining room available for community events, and there is a section of the restaurant with a bank of computers for customer use.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Katie Chelminski