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The Ten Best Jollof Spots in Nigeria
Most will agree the prime spot to eat jollof rice is at a Nigerian home, but for the next best thing, here’s our list of top options.
Jollof rice is one of the few things that Nigerians, despite our many ethnic and religious differences, seem to be able to agree on. It has transformed from just a popular dish into a symbol of Nigeria's nationality. Internationally, it’s been recreated with varying success by several cooking shows and chefs and is a favorite on social media apps where even non-Nigerians try their hand at it — some with better results than others.
For all its global recreations, you’d be hard-pressed to find a Nigerian who won't tell you the best place to get Nigerian rice is, of course, in Nigeria. If you ask other West African countries, particularly Ghana and Senegal, they’ll tell you they have the better jollof rice recipe — all of which led to the great jollof wars that are now a running discourse on nearly all social media platforms.
As one would expect, Nigerian jollof is a staple in high-end restaurants across Nigeria — many restaurants have put their spin on the classic by presenting it in a variety of ways that show off creativity, by changing a few ingredients. Still, nothing comes close to the local flavor of jollof rice found in Bukka and various local spots across Nigeria. It’s nearly impossible to name every great place to get jollof, but this list of ten top spots is a good place to start.
The House, Lagos
The House is an all-rounder in Lagos — great ambiance, pretty good service and food that justifies its price point. One of the highlights on their menu is their smokey jollof rice, which is very reminiscent of jollof made over firewood. It is the quintessential Nigerian jollof — the big flavors you expect from Nigerian jollof are all there, and a joy to devour. Pairing it with their peppered turkey is highly recommended — if you can handle your pepper because The House means business when it says “peppered turkey.” If you’re up for it, then this is the restaurant and meal for you.
Jevenik, various locations
Jevenik is one of the very first restaurant chains I remember going to as a kid. With branches in every major city in Nigeria from Port Harcourt to Lagos and Abuja, Jevenik has been providing Nigerians with affordable dining since as far back as anyone can remember. The restaurant chain was launched in 1991, and over the last 25 years has become known for being one of the first popular restaurants to nail Nigerian dishes. What works for Jevenik is that the food is consistent across all their restaurants, regardless of the location. Their jollof is pretty much the same — delicious — no matter where you go.
Nok By Alara, Lagos
Very few restaurants have managed to maintain their aesthetic, service and food quality for as long as Nok has, and that is praise not given out lightly. The dark walls of Nok have served as the backdrop for countless pictures, and it still looks as appealing today as it did when it opened several years back — a testament to its timelessness. The same can be said about the food. While the go-to for many Nok regulars seems to be the amala — a traditional Yoruba dish — what many may not know is that Nok makes great jollof. My favorite thing about their jollof is that it sticks together in the way locally made jollof does which is always welcome. Pro-tip: pairing with their filet of catfish and roasted plantain is chef’s kiss.
With its use of dark wood and just-right lighting, your Instagram pictures at Rodo will come out perfect. It’s not just an Insta-worthy spot: the food and service is on par, too. There’s good reason Rodo has become Abuja’s favorite restaurant. There are a lot of things to recommend off Rodo’s menu but like Nigerians say, ‘You see their jollof rice? Top tier!’ Arguably their best dish is the Rodo Clay Pot, which has their smokey jollof rice, yaji and sweet chili chicken with plantain. The jollof rice lives up to its smokey name without overpowering the other flavors, while the yaji — famously used to make Nigerian suya — that the chicken is spiced with is divine.
Native Tray, Port Harcourt
Having spent my teenage years in Port Harcourt, I tend to associate good food in the city with the famous Government Reserved Area – better known as GRA. It’s where you’ll find Casablanca, Sky Bar, and more recently-opened restaurants like Ororo. Pretty much every restaurant that isn't a fast food joint is located in the area. Native Tray is no different. If guessed from the name that this is a restaurant chiefly carving local dishes native to Nigeria, you’d be right. Nkwobi, Abacha, so many forms of soups, and more. And the best part is they do it all right — jollof included. It tastes like it is home-cooked – the chicken stock, the maggi, the tomato puree, everything that you are advised to put in your jollof, you can taste in Native Tray’s jollof.
Brass and Cooper, Lagos
In Lagos, it seems you often have to pick one or the other: good food or pretty space. Now and then, however, you find a spot that seems to have hacked being great at both. Brass and Cooper is that rare situation. Co-owned by reality star and entrepreneur Chioma Ikokwu and Kiki Osunde, Brass and Cooper is a great date night spot especially because the date night photos will turn out Instagram-perfect. However, if you are at Brass and Copper and you want to try rice that isn’t jollof rice but bangs just as hard, I cannot recommend their Jacky Rice enough. It is white rice served with some of the thickest tomato stew complete with meat, an egg and plantains.
Despite being named after the popular area in Lagos that inspired Wizkid’s hit song “Ojuelegba,” this restaurant is not located in Lagos but in Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja. Friends in Abuja talk about the restaurant like it’s one of those staples that everyone in the city needs to try at some point. The real point of attraction for most of Ojuelgba’s regulars is the amala, and while the jollof isn't the main character, it sure tastes like it is. Reminiscent of a classic plate of jollof that is served at a Nigerian wedding, the red hue of it isn’t as deep as a homemade plate but somehow all the spices fight for dominance in your mouth in a way that somehow just works. If you like deep flavors, this is the place for you.
Jollof by Jara, Lagos
When a restaurant has ‘jollof’ in its name, you know they are about to go all the way off with their jollof because they have a lot riding on it. That’s the case with Jollof by Jara, and the best part is they get it so right — from the spice level of the tomato sauce the rice is cooked in to the way the rice comes out in individual grains. The twist here is Jollof by Jara doesn't only serve Nigerian jollof but also all the different forms jollof rice takes across West Africa. You can be right in the center of the jollof wars in real life and decide for yourself which country makes it the best!
Yellow Chilli Restaurant, Lagos
Yellow Chill Restaurant might be one of the most consistent restaurants in Lagos – a good thing especially when surrounded by so many restaurants that are at best hit-or-miss. Yellow Chilli has yet to miss. The rice is fluffy, grainy and still has the trademark taste that one expects from jollof.
Firewood’s bio has ‘award-winning!’ in their Instagram bio. When you taste their jollof rice, I assure you that your first thought would be ‘It deserves that award, whatever it is!’ Their jollof rice is the type of deep-red and deep-flavor that one imagines when one thinks of a banging plate of jollof rice. If you are in competition with non-Nigerians and you want to show them Nigerian jollof at its best, Firewood Jollof is your best bet.
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