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Hot List 2008

Merkato 55, New York, New York

Address: 55 Gansevoort Street

Tel: 212-255-8555

The muted earth tones of the city's first upscale African restaurant bring some welcome sophistication to the brash, velvet-roped Meatpacking District. Aquavit chef-partner Marcus Samuelsson named his venue in homage to Addis Ababa's famous open-air market, and his innovative menu covers the continent's compass points. Pre-starter dips called kidogo (Swahili for "small bits") include South African pickled peppers, while appetizers vary from octopus, cured beef, and date salad to spicy Moroccan merguez sausages. Classic Ethiopian doro wat chicken comes in a cast-iron pot, and the steak Dakar is served with coriander butter. Upstairs, the striking diaphanous curtains printed with daguerreotype-quality portraits look as if they belong in a gallery (entrées, $19–$30).

Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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