It's only been open for two weeks, but Bantu Bistro has already gained some repeat customers in Central Phoenix. Located in the 7th Avenue spot that formerly housed Melrose Cafe (4447 N. 7th Ave., at Campbell; 602-604-2489), the eatery brings something new to the local dining scene: West African cuisine.
Co-owner Emmy Ayafor, a native of Camaroon, has lived in the Valley for almost a decade. He is the founder of the Africatamtam entertainment group, and used to teach African drumming and dance at ASU. Now he's following in the footsteps of his grandmother, who had a restaurant in his village.
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Ayafor says the menu at Bantu Bistro reflects the lush vegetation of West Africa. Featured dishes include curry chicken, fried plantains, fufu (mashed yams), African fried rice, and hot wings made with African spices. Two popular soups, ndole (made with soybeans, peanuts, and green) and egusi (made with pumpkin seeds) are available with a choice of oxtail, goat, or chicken.
Right now, Bantu Bistro is only open for dinner (4 to 11 p.m., Monday through Thursday), 4 p.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday, and 1 to 9 p.m. Sunday). But as business picks up, Ayafor hopes to open for lunch in a month or two -- Michele Laudig