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A white plate with shrimp and fufu on a wooden table.
Supa kanja at Bintü Atelier.
Mike Ledford

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Bintü Atelier Serves African Fare in Charleston’s East Side Neighborhood

Chef Bintou Ndaw couldn’t find the food of her homeland in the Lowcountry, so she created a restaurant

Erin Perkins is the editor of Eater Carolinas, covering the food and restaurant scene across North and South Carolina.

Newly opened African restaurant Bintü Atelier (8 Line Street, Charleston) is the only place on the peninsula with dishes like jollof rice, fufu, and mafe on the menu. The small East Side establishment comes from chef Bintou Ndaw.

Ndaw, originally from Senegal, had lived in New York City for 20 years when she and her husband, Tracey Young, started taking trips to South Carolina. “I just fell in love with Charleston,” she says. Ndaw got an opportunity to work at Chez Nous and decided to take it to honor her grandmother’s French heritage. She liked the old-school French atmosphere of the restaurant.

“I worked at Chez Nous for a year, and I was supposed to go back to New York, but then I talked to my husband, and we decided to move to Charleston,” says Ndaw. It was then that she was told about the available kitchen space on Line Street. Ndaw didn’t even think she wanted to open her own restaurant — when she left Chez Nous, she was producing a line of African sauces and condiments named Nafis with her mother, Nafissatou, and catering. Being a chef, and Senegalese, people always asked Ndaw if she knew any African caterers, so she started taking on jobs herself.

“I was looking for African food in Charleston, and I couldn’t find it,” says Ndaw, “so I thought, maybe that’s a need here. I wasn’t sure if people would like it, but the food here is very similar — there’s red rice, okra, and other Gullah Geechee dishes.”

When the East Side space became available, she says that “everything just came along.” Currently, Bintü Atelier serves a menu with appetizers like beef suya and crispy prawns with millet and fonio grains. Mains include thieboudienne, a grouper filet over jollof rice, and supa kanja, an okra stew with red shrimp. Ndaw says that she will have a few staples on the menu, but she’ll also have rotating items from different African regions. “Africa is 54 countries,” says Ndaw, “I want to highlight the entire continent.”

Bintü Atelier is open from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The restaurant only has outdoor dining right now but has plans to expand to the space next to it to offer indoor dining.

Check out the space and the menu here.

Colorful plants in front of a blue storefront.
Bintü Atelier is located at 8 Line Street.
Mike Ledford
An outdoor patio with red umbrellas over tables.
Bintü Altelier offers outdoor seating.
Mike Ledford
A wooden table with a red umbrella.
The restaurant will offer indoor seating soon.
Mike Ledford
Grouper filet on red rice.
Thieboudieun at Bintü Atelier.
Mike Ledford
A plate of shrimp and fufu.
Bintü Atelier is the only African restaurant in downtown Charleston.
Mike Ledford
A smiling Black woman leaning on a blue building.
Bintou Ndaw in front of her restaurant.
Mike Ledford
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