Maybe my friend talked this place up too much, or maybe I just wished I could have downed a couple of pitchers of tasty cocktails, which I didn't, but I wished the food could have stood up to the vigor of this joint.
The Mission District is a weird place. Little Mexico by day, full of 99 cent stores, knock-off sporting goods and Ritmo Latinos, only the die-hard culture fiend actually lives here with mostly Mexican neighbors (though plenty frequent for the food and the deals). Yet at night, a million little hot restaurants, bars, and clubs appear in-between the gated- and boarded-up storefronts, like the whole street is on some kind of revolving bookshelf. Nortenos' belt buckles compete in size with their cowboy hats strolling past rockabilly lesbians dressed to the T and booby-flappin' barbies teetering on their heels while the homeless stake out favorite alcoves now that no one will notice.
Bissap Boabab is one of these gems shining in the night, and it fills up with the commensurate hipsters (we happened in on a night with a wig party). Past the packed bar and good African and reggae music, seating is limited to a dozen worn wooden tables surrounded by paintings of Senegalese scenes the likes of which might be happening outside if the the bamboo-thatched ceiling were really the inside of your African hut. We had no problem getting a table around 6:30, but an hour later and you'd find cause for the sizeable waiting area. There's a Little Boabab a block away for more drinks and dancing.
I longed for a pitcher of the tasty cocktails with delicious things like ginger, tamarind, exotic fruits, and house infused rums, but that'll have to wait. The wafting hot ginger tea was the obvious virgin accompaniment to the spicy, tasty food. Curt's Ethiopian beer was equally tasty (I broke my rule and broke down for Franziskaner on tap!).
Though the male service would be better if you bring cleavage and no one to look at it, I think the rest of the servers were better. I will definitely come here again.
Favorite Dish: Yassa with chicken and couscous is a tender hunk of leg and breast in a lemon-mustard-onion stew, moderately spicy. The meat's texture and flavor were excellent, but my tastes weren't quite in tune with the slightly sour sauce.
Seafood coconut with tilapia with couscous is a couple of skewers of good fish that could have seemed dry without the delicious creamy pool of tamarind, coconut milk and paprika sauce.
Lamb kebabs with couscous, plantains, grilled onions, and salad was dish-wise tasty but scored low in combination.
Meals ranged from $8.50 to $13 or so.
There were so many good appetizers that we didn't order but would have loved to, including stuffed pastry things. $4-$9.
Lots of good beers on tap and a few African imports in bottles, plust the great cocktails, $7 each or $5 with well rum, pitchers for $24, and fruit-infused rums.
this little place is the place to eat great senegalese food (lots for veggies) including great fish and meat stews, mafi (vegetable stew over couscous with peanut sauce),plaintains, and casamance (grilled Red Snapper served with Yassa sauce) are the most popular main dishes.
and don't forget the speciality drinks! I reccomend the hibiscus, tamarind, or inger margaritas!
Favorite Dish: I had my 30th birthday here and we took over the entire patio on which must have been the warmest summer evening in August last year.
oh..and I heard this was the place to be when Senegal beat France in the World Cup last year!!
Bissap Baobab is what I'd consider the truest style of a restaurant in the Mission. Void of any pretentious air, you walk inside and can feel that everyone just wants you (and themselves) to have a good time and enjoy things. They offer a VERY interesting variety of cocktails that make use of several different roots found commonly in Africa. Offering cuisine from Senegal, Mali, and more, there is a nice variety of things to choose from.
If I were to give one suggestion I'd say stick to the fish. I ordered the lamb and wasn't totally thrilled. But my girlfriend ordered a fish dish that was actually very good. The meals are very homestyle in preparation and presentation, and overall it's just a nice relaxed atmosphere to go to and enjoy.
Oh yeah. Big portions too!!