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Africana Les Merveilles de Canan (cart)

Update 10/31/10: Africana will not be back in 2011; we spotted the cart half-repainted as Thairiffic.

Africana In a word: Stew on the go.

The specs: #0536  
Address, hours & details via Isthmus.

JM, John, and Skip all ate the peanut stew.
Nichole ate the chicken curry.
The bill was $6 each.
JM, Nichole, and Skip gave Africana Les Merveilles de Canan a B (see our grading rubric).

The List now includes food carts, an exciting new challenge for us. Madison has two main hubs of activity, Library Mall and the Capitol Square, and we'd guess that coordinating the annual judging is one of the most envied City jobs there is.

The menu at Africana's cart is short - so short we could have split up and tried the whole array between the four of us. But whether through pickiness, cussedness or some alchemy between, JM, John and Skip all got the peanut stew, much to Nichole's bossy-big-sisterly chagrin.

John declined to give a grade, citing his newness to the cart concept (not like this is his 68th A to Z meal or anything), but the meal was universally decreed good. The sauce was rich in flavor but totally lacking in heat, with no hot sauce on offer. The chicken curry was also mild, mostly white meat, with eggplant and onion in a tomato base.

Peanut stew and chicken curry

The rice:entree ratio seemed weak at the $6 price point, and the lack of condiments and beverages precludes one-stop shopping for cart lunch. But we had room left for cupcakes so not all was lost.

We might have gotten off on the wrong foot with our own rules, since Africana Les Merveilles de Canan is run by the same folks who run Africana Restaurant and Lounge. We made the same mistake going to both Angelo's back in the day. Must be something about our zeal surrounding the letter A.


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AWESOME. Was wondering when or if you were going to start reviewing the food carts. Very good job for a first review, like including (cart) in title, mentioning availability / lack of condiments, sauces, etc.

Only issue, which you touched on, is most of the people got the same items this time. Considering food carts generally have a small food list, it would be very HELPFUL to try to make an effort to try most/all of the items [depending on selection size] when reviewing a food cart, see if everything is equally good or if some is awesome and some is average.

Regarding the rules, since a food cart experience by its very nature is significantly different from a restaurant experience, I think the "same restaurant" rule should NOT apply to food carts. I feel the rule is to avoid situations like Angelo's, rather than restaurant versus food cart.

Lastly, if you need some inspiration and/or just want to see how other sites review food carts, here is a superb site.
foodcartsportland.com [IMO best food cart blog period]

> The List now includes food carts

Someone at the Isthmus is tweaking you!

I love the carts! But they always make me miss that great place that used to be under the Pres House... whatever it was called.

That was Catacombs, and if you miss it, you should probably get yourself to Ironworks Cafe.

(I won't tell you to read my piece for Isthmus on the Hunters, but I'll certainly suggest it strongly.)

Nino, that's flattering, but I don't presume Isthmus (corporately speaking) thinks much of us, if at all. Adding food carts to the Eats list is like a love tap.

Speaking of Isthmus! I recently finished adding starred reviews to each restaurant's profile based on my letter grades. There aren't a lot of stars in there, folks. The more we add, the more reliable the List becomes as a dining guide, so go 'head on and add your own (you too, JM): thedailypage.com/eats.

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Listen to The Corner Table podcast "Remembering Restaurants," aired December 24, 2020, where Chris and Lindsay talk with us "about the menus and memories left behind when restaurants go away."

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