With over 20 million people in the metro area, it’s no surprise that Lagos packs a punch in terms of fantastic cuisine. The city also has a large amount of expats, and they have brought their food with them from places like England, France, India and Lebanon to mix with the already delicious Nigerian fare. Here are our picks for the best restaurants in Lagos, Nigeria.
From outside, Villa Medici could be a residential property apart from the small porch with inlaid mosaic and discrete signage. Those who do spot it are rewarded with a bamboo screen garden fringed by palms. Bamboo seating lie scattered around a centerpiece water feature. Inside the main bar runs the full length of one wall and it’s well stocked with premium spirits. The cuisine sets a high standard with starters like Duck Roulade and Carpaccio alongside prawns in a variety of guises. For seafood lovers there is a choice of snapper, sole, sea bass, and yet more prawns whilst carnivores can pick from chicken, steak or lamb cutlets or shank. All dishes are cooked in a European style and served with panache equal to the surroundings. The eagle-eyed Lebanese manager runs a tight ship and there is a keen eye for detail occasionally missing from other establishments.
Getting to La Scala is worth the effort, for those who do venture here will be rewarded with some of the best French food the city has to offer. From the crabe diable (fresh flaked crab and chili served hot in the shell) to classics like tournedos rossini, the food is classically, deliciously French. It is expensive; however it’s no worse than many of the hotel restaurants that serve as its main competition. The restaurant is a single-storey brick summerhouse overlooking a well-tended patio area. It is kept well shaded by a variety of potted plants and a magnificent creeper strewn indigenous tree. It is definitely one of the greener spots on Lagos Island. The interior is neither the most stylish nor the most refined in Lagos but that is partly as a result of having been open for longer than most of its competition. However, the food is why most people go here, and it speaks for itself.
For those looking for the best Nigerian cuisine has to offer, Yellow Chilli has a pretty strong claim to the title. It has been here for over a decade and through that time developed a reputation for great quality Nigerian food amongst expat and locals alike. Most of the dishes are stews and come with a variety of accompanying starches (pounded yams, semovita etc.) This is true Nigerian food and not all dishes may appeal to the western palate (offal, snails etc.) but the chicken beef and prawn dishes are spectacular. Downstairs is a non-smoking section whilst upstairs is smoking with both areas seating 20-30 people in comfort. Decor is tastefully African with dark carved wooden doors, Ostrich egg lamps and Benin brass. For those wary of venturing too far into Nigerian cuisine there are also a range of milder alternatives such as breaded prawns.
The Sherlaton is something of an institution amongst the expats of Vic Island. It has been here for 30 years and holds claim to being the first Indian restaurant in Lagos. It’s tucked away behind the Cumberland Hotel on a site that also comprises a small supermarket and the ‘Nirvana Lounge’ discotheque. It’s popular with expats, mainly due to huge portions and extremely good value. It’s not just the prices though; Indian staples like jhalfrezi, kadai, vindaloo and their signature dish, Raan E Sherlaton (a leg of lamb loaded with spices) are all excellent. As the waiters rush through the double doors to the kitchen flames lick from the tandoori ovens and a succession of exotic aromas and spices waft there way over the diners. Decor is simple and austere; the only decoration is a large flat screen TV on one wall and the piped music soundtrack isn’t winning any awards. It’s really not about the decoration or the soundtrack though, as it’s always busy. Expect a roughly equal split between Indian, expat and Nigerian diners, all taking advantage of the 24 hr opening times.
As part of the Blowfish hospitality group, Piccolo Mondo is owned by the same proprietors who own several other restaurants in the area, but this venue is probably the most popular. The restaurant bills itself as Italian, but like many other restaurants around the region, it actually serves a wide variety of dishes, most likely in an attempt to lure as much business as possible. With that said, dishes here are reasonably well reviewed, with selections ranging from bolognese beef to smoked salmon & mascarpone. Patrons coming here definitely get exclusivity and atmosphere. The dining room at Piccolo Mondo is dark and flashy, with blue neon lights under the bar and surreptitiously placed around the room. The bar is long and outfitted with leather seats and a disco ball overhead and the back corner of the venue has a room decked out solely in white leather couches and designer chairs. The restaurants is refreshingly easy to find on Idejo Street in the heart of Victoria Island. Just keep an eye out for a pink restaurant with a grass awning and a Japanese restaurant on top of it.
Arguably one of the best Indian restaurants in Lagos, Spice Bar is so popular that it had to have a large expansion in 2013. Spice Bar serves a combination of north Indian and Chinese cuisine in an open space with dark, hardwood floors and fine wooden tables. There is also a full length bar with white leather chairs and a few rooms for private events. The entire scene is overlooked by an 8m tall Buddha that peacefully rests over the room.There is a deep variety of north Indian dishes from murgh masala to tandoori on the menu, and an equally impressive array of Chinese meals available as well. Guests will also find an excellent range of beer and spirits, though the wine list is fairly narrow. There is a reason this restaurant is raved about so much, and that’s because of the excellent cuisine.