Hospitality and heady flavors at La Teranga.

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Mamadou Diakhate manages to do wonders in the limited space he has to work with at La Teranga, a sliver of a restaurant in Seattle’s Columbia City neighborhood that turns out excellent West African fare inspired by his native Senegal.

Opened four years ago, the restaurant has developed a following despite being just a bit wider than the door used to enter it and having only a handful of tables. From the moment you walk in, the aromas of exotic spices, simmering meat and fish and intriguing sauces envelope the senses, a heady teaser for what arrives on the plate.

The affable Diakhate embodies the spirit of the restaurant’s name, which means “hospitality” in the African Wolof language.

La Teranga


4903½ Rainier Ave. S., Seattle


Hours: 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; closed Sunday and Monday

Etc: credit cards accepted; wheelchair accessible but space is tight; no alcohol served; parking on street

Prices: $-$$

The menu: The intricate, spicy flavors of West Africa come through in entrees like Senegal’s national dish, thiebou djeun ($14.50), fish cooked in a tangy, peppery tomato stew with carrots, cassava, eggplant and cabbage; lamb mafe ($13.50), cooked with carrots, yams and cassava in peanut sauce; and chicken-leg yassa ($12.50), cooked in a lemon and caramelized onion sauce. Goat cooked in either a red curry or with coconut ($12.99) is available on Wednesdays. Meatless options include a yassa with vegetables instead of chicken ($11.50) and a vegetarian couscous ($12.50).

What to write home about: Both the thiebou djeun and lamb mafe were excellent, as were iced juices made with ginger ($3.50) and sorrel ($3.50).

The setting: The owner’s warm welcome and African-music playlist set a relaxed tone in a tight space.

Summing up: Thiebou djeun ($14.50), lamb mafe ($13.50), ginger juice ($3.50) and sorrel juice ($3.50) came to $35 for two people.