Being a relatively new city, one that’s dominated by government buildings and employees, Abuja is often under-appreciated for its cuisine, even in Nigeria. However if you dig a bit, you’ll find that the city offers dozens of great places for business travelers and adventurous foodies. Here are our picks for the best restaurants in Abuja, Nigeria.
This restaurant is often cited as the best in Abuja, and for good reason. Specializing in south Indian food, guests can enjoy dozens of tasty dishes referencing the city of Kerala, along with a few mainstream selections as well. Once you’re inside, you’ll notice the ceiling opens up to the roof and the mezzanine, where another several dozen tables overlook the main room and extend briefly back into the building. The atmosphere here is warm and mixed between Indian and African, with dark wood furniture, brick walls, exposed trusses and a thatched roof far above. There’s also a nice selection of African artwork on the walls. If you’re coming to the city, this restaurant definitely belongs on your must-try list.
BluCabana Restaurant & Cafe
Although it’s located off of a dirt road, BluCabana Restaurant & Cafe remains one of the top restaurants in Abuja and specializes in delectable Lebanese cuisine. Once you make it there, you’ll find an elegant two-story building along with a health center and a kid’s play area. Inside, there are several refined and relaxed spaces, with clean crisp lines and modern art lining the walls. While outside, there is a cool outdoor seating area next to a turquoise modern pool. Lebanese groups sit and chat to a soundtrack of Balearic house outside, while the red glow of shisha and cigar smoke lights up the dusk. The food is impeccable, and specializes in Lebanese flat breads, tender shwarma, creamy hummus, and perfectly spiced kibbeh. There’s also several international items on the menu, if you’re feeling more conservative. Overall, it’s one of the best havens in the city to dine on delicious food while relaxing.
This French restaurant fits right in to the opulence of Maitama’s embassy district, a neighborhood filled with high walls and verdant, well-tended gardens. From the time you arrive at the high steel gates, which carry discrete signage, there is an air of exclusivity. The upscale crowd is predominantly embassy staff, visiting dignitaries, and government workers. During the day the, restaurant can be a little sleepy, but in the evenings it’s a veritable who’s who of Abuja, lured by the excellent food and private location. The man responsible for the food is Victor Kueviakoe, a Togolese born, London-trained executive chef. He has brought the French dining concept to Abuja and given it a little West African twist. The seafood menu has sole, sea bass, salmon, and local Giwan Ruwa fish alongside the ever-present jumbo prawns. Carnivores can choose from T-bone or filet steak, rack of lamb, French classics like boeuf bourguignon, and even rabbit. It’s simple but well-presented food cooked with some flair in a refined environment with good service.
Spice Platter is yet another fantastic Indian option in Abuja. The interior is colorfully cool and relaxed with a variety of northern Indian woven wall hangings, along with sitar music lending a feeling of authenticity. It’s a great spot for those with big appetites and can be done on a budget. But don’t let the low prices fool you, the food at Spice Platter is of superb quality. Tandoori chicken, crispy samosas, spiced okra, black daal and lamb rogan josh are some of the best items on the menu (also offered as a lunch buffet). Naan is freshly cooked in the tandoori oven and brought to the table still steaming. The manager Siddiqi is originally from Pakistan, raised in Ghana, and had two successful restaurants in Kano before moving to Abuja. It’s not the most stylish nor terribly upmarket, but the banks of Indian businessmen who frequent here at lunchtimes are a testament to it being the real deal.
Al Basha Palace
This fun Middle Eastern restaurant offers up fantastic food along with one of the most atmospheric settings in the city. Located in Maitama, though not in the uber-exclusive embassy district, the restaurant has a Mediterranean villa frontage complete with terracotta tiled stone courtyard, fringed by wild fig tree and a gently burbling water feature. Middle eastern brass work, amphora, and cartwheel lamps staged around a large internal water feature all add to the feel that you are in a Grenadian cave or Moroccan souk rather than the high savanna of Abuja. Like Chez Victor, it specializes in Lebanese food and is popular for tabbouleh, hummus, shwarma, and falafel alongside proper dark, thick Lebanese coffee. However, unlike Chez Victor, it’s all served in a more casual atmosphere, allowing you to let loose a little bit and enjoy a night out on the town.
The Charcoal Grill Restaurant & Coffee Lounge
This restaurant is relatively new in Abuja and features a cool rooftap bar where every table is usually full of refined and stylish Abujan’s catching up with each other. Inside, there is an air-conditioned indoor dining area, but the balcony with its wrought iron railings and arched steel roof fringed by diminutive palm trees is an infinitely better spot to hang out and people watch. The food here is a mix of continental and Nigerian offerings, all with well-presented and good-sized portions, such as the lamb suya and pepper chicken. The coffee here, of course, is also some of the best in town and you’ll regularly find business people using the WiFi during the daytime.