Kilimandjaro

Row 1

Details
4317 Chestnut St (btwn S 44th & S 43rd St)
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 387-1970
African
$ $
Hours
Mon–Sun: Noon–Midnight

Mount Kilimanjaro rises majestically over the East African savannah. It is just a 200 miles south of the equator, but at 19,000 feet the mountain’s summit is still snow-covered all through the year. It has been a beacon for caravans along the trade routes of East Africa, and a magnet for European adventure-seekers of the age of exploration. “As wide as all the world, great, high, and unbelievably white in the sun,” Ernest Hemingway wrote of it.

The restaurant in West Philadelphia named after the mountain is no such sight. In a strip mall on Chestnut Street between 42nd and 43rd Streets it’s wedged between among a Donuts Plus, a halal butcher, and a Risque Video. It’s not that it’s hard to find, but from the street it does not exactly beckon.

None of this stopped the restaurant from being packed on Saturday evening when we stopped in for dinner. Inside, it’s bright red and welcoming. Families and groups of friends filled the booths and tables, Africans and African-Americans mostly with a smattering the other types of folks that all together make West Philly West Philly. Now admittedly, packing a place like this, with only five booths a few small tables, is not all too difficult, but during the time we were there eating, Kilimandjaro fed triple the amount of people as were sitting in the restaurant in its brisk take-out business.

All these customers ate well. Kilimandjaro offers hearty plates, centered on meat well and strongly seasoned, with a choice of starch and vegetable sides. Between the three of us that went that night, we tried the chicken, with a sweet lemon-onion sauce, and the fish and the lamb, both peppered with onion and garlic, and none disappointed. The menu is not particularly vegetarian friendly – though the plantain, couscous and vermicelli sides are hardly afterthoughts – nor is it terribly extensive – the spices and sauces seasoning the dishes are repeated from dish to dish – but when there’s more West African food to be had at Kilimandjaro than most anywhere else in Philadelphia, this is by no means a criticism.

Despite the name, the cuisine is West African – Senegalese in particular – and not East African. While I am by no means an expert in this cuisine, from a limited selection I can say that this consists of tastes of onion, garlic, lemon, and mustard, at the same time earthy, spicy, and tangy. And at Kilimandjaro portions are as large as the flavors – you get a half-chicken or a complete tilapia, for example.

The menu is not extensive, and the inventory behind it is less so. There are maybe ten dinner entrees on the menu, and the night we went a good third of them were not available. Unless you’re a connoisseur of the Senegalese lamb dish gigot and would not be equally happy with dibi lamb instead, this should not pose a problem. Other inventory shortcomings were less excusable. Arriving early, I managed to get the ginger juice. When the rest of my party arrived, I strongly recommended this delicious beverage, tangy with a spicy kick, but at that point the restaurant had run out. Nor were any desserts available that night.

Maybe they will be when you go.

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Foursquare Tips

  • Dibi Lamb!!!!!
  • You will find your life when u eat the Chicken Yassa!
  • H-Amazing!
  • Love this place; Try the Dibi Lamb Chops.
  • The chicken kebab was out of this world. Try the ginger drinks too.
  • Chicken Yassa is delectable!
  • Yassa chicken is delectable!
  • Very good food here and plenty of it
  • Yassa and fried plantain were delicious. The thieboudiene, thiakry, and attieke are next on my list!
  • Yummm. Great Senegalese food, very spicy and huge portions. BYOB adds a lot of fun :)
  • Try any of the ginger drinks! If you like ginger you will be happy.
  • My favorite spot in philly. The service leaves a lot to be desired,however, the food and portions make up for it. Be patient it's worth it!
  • Grilled tilapia is fabulous! Lots of bones in the fish though.
  • Get 10+ friends together and go in for their All-You-Can-Eat deal for $15 per person. It comes with so many meats, sides & drinks so you can try it all! Best deal by far, AND for amazing food at that
  • Dibi lamb chops were mindblowing. Fish was good, but lamp chops were even better. Ginger drink super strong but delicious
  • Try their Yassa with fish! I will only eat Yassa here! It is heavenly!
  • Fataya is fo real!!
  • Ginger drink is amazing
  • Try the fataya and ginger juice! So good!
  • Their hot sauce is absolutely delicious!!! It goes really well with their fried rice.