Columbus offers no shortage of world cuisines to explore, and we’d like to highlight some African eateries making a big impact on the community.
Our city is home to the second largest Somali population outside of Somali itself, and the cuisine is well represented around the city. Hoyo’s Kitchen seeks to be accessible to everyone. Easy entry points include sambusas (pastries filled with meat and vegetables) and combo plates that let you mix and match dishes. And if you’ve never tried goat, Hoyo’s is a perfect place to experience it.
Likewise, African Paradise and Ginevra Cafe both offer dinners that will seem familiar to those new to Somali cuisine. Start with simple dishes like lamb, beef, or chicken paired with rice or pasta. The meals will be served with a variety of breads like the sour injera or the sweeter canjero; you can tear pieces of the bread to scoop up bites to eat.
There are many similarities between Somali and Ethiopian cuisine, and to explore Ethiopian fare, diners have a couple restaurants to turn to. Both Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant and Addis Restaurant offer comfortable and welcoming atmospheres. Many dishes are made with familiar meats – chicken, beef, lamb, fish – mixed with vegetables and very well seasoned. Spice levels can be adjusted to taste; one easy way to sample many dishes is to ask for a shareable platter. You can then tear pieces of injera to try smaller bites.
Wycliff’s Kitchen serves a Kenyan menu. Wycliff himself serves beef and goat stews, with meat that falls off the bone. The stews are often served with sides of rice and vegetables. The meals are accompanied by chapati flatbreads.
Although the menu at Dabakh Restaurant includes American staples like burgers and sandwiches, the Senegalese items are the better choice. Dishes range from pastries filled with beef or fish or stewed meats like lamb or beef served with rice.
Intercontinental Restaurant focuses on Nigerian cuisine, beginning with easy entryways like the jollof a rice dish that can be topped with different meats. The menu also explores different stews and soups made with okra, spinach, or fufu (yam dumplings).
L’Appat Patisserie & Cafe cycles through a variety of cuisines, African and non. Owner Didier Alapani originates from Benin, and his menu rotates to reflect various African countries, from Benin to the Cote d'Ivoire and beyond. Two things are worth noting about L’Appat: 1. They host a monthly Pan-African Day menu, which features food from across the continent, and 2. Their beautiful pastries are well worth seeking out, too.
Now you’ve got a good starting point, you should go out and explore! Remember to feel free to ask questions of your servers about dishes and ingredients. These restaurant owners are excited to introduce you to their countries’ cuisines.