Nigerian cuisine is typical of West Africa in that it uses ingredients of spices and herbs with palm or groundnut oil to create rich soupy dishes that are usually served with rice or beans. Both oils come from locally grown plants; ground nuts are more commonly known as peanuts around the world, and originated in Africa. Palm oil comes from African oil palms and is reddish in color, giving Nigerian dishes their typical look, and a deep flavor. There are many stew type dishes in Nigeria which may be served with a side dish of deep fried plantains (savory bananas) or funkaso, which are millet (an African cereal crop) pancakes. Yams and cassava (root vegetables with a similar texture to potatoes) are also often used, often served as dessert dishes at the end of a meal.
Bars and Pubbing in Nigeria
For the best nightlife in Nigeria, you must head to Lagos. It is the country’s largest and busiest city, and as a result has the most entertainment. Elsewhere in the country there are no bars really at all, in the Western sense, but you can always find a local family restaurant to grab a drink. Of course, other big cities like Abuja and Port Harcourt will provide nightlife, but Lagos is more dynamic so you should take the opportunity to have a night out here if you are in town.
One of the most established nightclubs in Lagos is Bacchus (Awolowo Road, Lagos), popular with the city trendsetters. Saturday night is most popular, and here revelers turn up dressed to impress, ready to dance the night away to a mixture of electronic music and Afrobeat. For purely Nigerian music, you can head to the New Afrika Shrine (Pepple Street, Lagos), which is a huge dancing hall and live music venue run by Femi Kuti, of Afrobeat fame. It is actually a shrine to his father, Fela Kuti, who really put Nigerian music on the map, and Femi Kuti will perform here on Fridays and Saturdays if he is town. Otherwise there will be another local band playing. A great night out giving you a real feel for Nigeria.
For further live music you can go to Atlantic Bar (Adeola Hopewell Street, Lagos), in the fashionable area of Victoria Island. There is a great atmosphere here, and live music every Friday and Saturday. Another live music venue is Nimbus (Maitama Sule Street, Lagos), which has bands playing on weekends. During the day the atmosphere is mellow, and it’s a good place to relax for a while. After that you can visit the gallery next door to view some contemporary pieces from local artists.
Dining and Cuisine in Nigeria
For the widest choice of restaurants in Nigeria, you should head to Lagos, which is the country’s main city, even though it is not the capital. If you are seeking traditional Nigerian fare you will not be disappointed here, although since it is a modern and multicultural city there are several international options, such as American, Chinese, Indian, and Italian cuisine. Many of the restaurants are on the prestigious Victoria Island, an established hotel and entertainment district.
One of the best places in Lagos for traditional Nigerian food is Yellow Chili (Bishop Oluwole Street, Lagos). It is well known for its seafood okra (an endemic green watery vegetable, similar to a zucchini). You can be guaranteed freshly-caught seafood, since Lagos is a coastal city on the Atlantic Ocean. Explorers Restaurant (6 Ahmadu Way, Lagos) on Victoria Island is another place you can go to try some Nigerian cuisine. The daily set menu and buffet service offer a good variety, and good value for money.
One of the most popular restaurants in Lagos serves Indian food. It is called Sherlaton (Bourdilon Road, Lagos), known for rich curries cooked by established Indian chefs, with generous portions that leave patrons returning for more. Reservations are recommended, particularly on weekend evenings, as it can get busy. For a particularly great atmosphere you can head to Oriental Garden (3 Lekki Road, Lagos), which is a Chinese restaurant. It has been established for over 30 years and is popular amongst regular Lagos residing locals as well as visitors. For something totally extravagant, head to Chocolat Royale (Etim Inyang, Lagos), which serves international dishes, but the desserts are the real treat. Here you can devour delicious pastries and choose from a huge number of flavors of ice cream to really give yourself a treat.