Ghana must taste like joy and mangos

We hadn’t been to Mabovi African restaurant for almost a year (since Mac’s last birthday). When we walked through the door, owner Bea was on her way out to run an errand. She stopped short and exclaimed, “Oh, it’s you! I can’t leave now!”

It doesn’t matter that she probably doesn’t remember all our names or that she can’t keep track because we always have new friends with us when we visit, but she makes you feel as if you’ve stepped through the front door of her house. When we were there last year, Mabovi was about to leave its location in a strip mall in Mattson, IL, and Bea was preparing to leave for a visit to Ghana, West Africa, (where she can see the mountains from her window and reach out to pluck mangos for her breakfast.)

We weren’t disappointed this week in the new place, even more immaculate, cozy, and welcoming than the last. And the food still knocks off your palm slippers.

We shared plates of oxtails in brown gravy, spicy jerk chicken, fall off the bone lamb shank, and deep fried whole read snapper.

After Bea popped one of the snapper’s eyeballs into her mouth, Meg ate the other one (“on this episode of Bizarre Food…”).

The side dishes stand on their own: buttered cabbage (really, you can’t stop eating it), red rice (or rice and beans if you choose), and homemade, yeasty bread with bits of dried fruit you wish you could make a bed of and eat your way through ’til morning.

(Disclaimer: We are not responsible for the fact that there are no pictures of the fresh fruit plate filled with pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, and the most amazing mango.)

Take-out still seems a popular choice at Mabovi, but people just don’t know what they’re missing. Bea’s pride in her cooking, her exuberance and joy about life and eating, and her welcoming spirit make dining in at Mabovi’s one of the best food experiences I’ve had.

Bea and Mac

Mabovi African & Caribbean Restaurant Mabovi African & Caribbean Restaurant. New Address: 17100 Dixie Highway, Hazel Crest, IL 60429 Phone: (708) 206-1900. Map and Menu:

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