01 Oct 11 of the Best Nigerian & West African Restaurants in the U.S.
By Natelegé Whaley
Aside from Jollof rice, which is a popular staple across the country, it’s hard to pinpoint a single definition of “Nigerian cuisine.” The most populous African nation, Nigeria, is home to 250 indigenous tribes that contribute to the country’s diverse cuisine, which varies from region to region.
Along the coast, people naturally eat more seafood than in other parts of the country. In the south, red palm oil is a staple in recipes for dishes like egusi soup and akara. Northern Nigerians often center their meals around the most accessible local cattle or livestock. Many credit the northern Hausa people for creating Suya, a popular skewered meat seasoned with a blend of peanut and spices.
“Nigeria’s food culture bears the characteristics of expansionism and exchange with different pieces of Africa,” says Tiffaney Odewale, one of the owners of Houston’s Taste of Nigeria.
Luckily, you don’t have to fly to Nigeria to enjoy the country’s diverse array of cuisines. Here is a look at 11 places you can indulge in Nigerian and West African food around the country.
Brooklyn Suya brings fast casual West African dining to the States. Build your own suya bowl with a choice of meat/protein; add ons like avocado, egg, kale, plantain, mushrooms, eggplant, and vegetables; a base of either rice or kale; and mild, medium or spicy sauce. But the star of every bowl is the suya spice mix, which consists of peanuts, various aromatics, and ground up peppers.
Olaide’s kitchen started as a catering business that operated out of chef Olaide’s home kitchen. 18 years later, it expanded into the restaurant space. But not only is it a restaurant, it’s an experience. Get inspired while you dine alongside their African art gallery. Check out the elevated, yet authentic Nigerian dishes, like the Giz Dodo – sauteed gizzards and plantains infused with herbs and peppers – or the Efo Elegusi, a flavorful kale and pumpkin seed (egusi) stew cooked in palm oil.
Fannie’s West African Cuisine prides itself on being both authentic and handcrafted. Embracing an African lifestyle, they use fresh, organic ingredients that satisfy their clients’ appetites, but also their tastebuds. Dishes are spiced according to customer preference, from mild to spicy. For breakfast, try the bread with fried eggs; for lunch, the cassava leaf; and for dinner either the pepper crab, pepper snail, or the Waakye.
Did You Know?
According to the data team at Pinterest, searches for West African recipes saw a 311% increase on their website in 2019. Whole Foods also named West African food as one of their top 20 trends of the year for 2020.
According to owner Priestwick Sackeyfio, Blackstar Kebab is a “dream come true,” as he gets to make traditional Ghanaian family recipes for people who’ve never experienced them before. Blackstar is a food cart that uses high-quality, organic ingredients to create dishes like Jollof rice; beef, chicken or lamb kebabs; plantains and more. In addition to operating at locations throughout the Seattle area, they’re also available for parties and catering.
Bala’s Bistro uses its menu to showcase the diversity of African cooking. From vegan food to authentic African home cooking and cross-continental fusion dishes, Bala’s has something for just about everyone. They also have catering and meal prep services. Check out their vegan kimchi wrap, which is served with a side of fried plantains, sweet potato fries with spicy honey, or fried whole okra; or the beef stuffed pastry, which is fried to perfection and served with a spicy onion relish.
Although owner and chef Prince Matey introduced two new dishes that he developed early in the COVID quarantine – a minced goat burger and seafood okra stew – his clients still love the staples. That includes light pepper soup with fufu and meat or fish, waakye (black eyed peas cooked with brown rice) served with black pepper sauce (Shinto) and ampesi (boiled yam and boiled green plantain) served with spinach stew. And, of course, jollof rice.
This Houston-based establishment is one of just a few restaurants filling the void for authentic Nigerian food in the H. The Odewales use the freshest ingredients to prepare appetizers like Isiewu, a spicy diced goat head served in a thick sauce, and main dishes like Banga soup, a palm nut soup made with beef, dry fish, and crayfish. Taste of Nigeria boasts over a dozen menu options and offers delivery and catering services.
Aduke Nigerian Cuisine started as a catering company before establishing itself as a fine dining restaurant serving cozy Nigerian cuisine. At Adukine, you will find staple Nigerian dishes such as Ila Alasepo, a stewed okra soup, filled with the options of meat or seafood and a choice of swallow. Popular menu items include the Suya Beef Kebab and the Moin Moin, a steamed bean pudding made from washed and peeled black-eyed peas.
RELATED: Recipe: Kahk, Egyptian Eid Cookies
If you’re seeking authentic West African cuisine representing Nigeria, Ghana, and the Ivory Coast, in Peachtree Corners, Georgia, Cafe Songhai is the place to pick up takeout. There are traditional Nigerian selections such as egusi soup; Ghanaian food such as Kelewele, deep-fried, lightly spiced, diced sweet plantain; and Ivory Coast fare Attiéké, ground cassava, servedwith fried tilapia fillet or red snapper.
Eko Kitchen prides itself on being the first Nigerian restaurant and catering company in San Francisco, offering pre-ordered takeout and delivery on the weekends, such as its signature Eko Combo, a plate of jollof rice aside peppered chicken and fried plantains. In April 2021, Eko Kitchen expanded to Los Angeles, cooking up Nigerian takeout, delivery, catering, and meal prep. For those not on the west coast, Eko Kitchen offers virtual cooking classes for groups.
At Buka in Brooklyn, New York, diners will find “good old-fashioned Naija cooking” for delivery and curbside pickup. For dinner, try the Edikaikong, goat and tripe meat cooked in spinach with crayfish, dried shrimp and periwinkle, with fufu on the side. Wash down the filling meal with a glass of Zobo, Nigerian hibiscus iced tea.