Ibadan is a very "coded" city and sometimes it can seem like information isn't readily available, especially when it comes to the best places to eat. To know the in's and out's, you have to have lived in the city for some time and so it can be difficult for newcomers or visitors. I decided to compile some of my favorite spots to eat, so maybe this list could be helpful to you.
The first place on the list is Mama Ope. Whisper this name to anyone who has lived here for a while, the typical response would be a twinkle in their eye and most likely some salivating. This buka style restaurant has been around for 30+ years and throughout those years have been serving up some of the best tasting food in the city.
They serve a variety of Nigerian meals, but they are undoubtedly known for their white rice and stew. It stands out effortlessly and I am yet to find anywhere else in the country that makes stew this rich or this flavorful. It is a red pepper and tomato-based stew, loaded with spices and fried to absolute deliciousness. It's a good experience every time I go there, and the temptation to overeat is very strong.
My typical order looks like this. A portion of rice, a portion of white beans, some plantain and whatever meat I'm feeling like and this usually amounts to around N1,500. Just make sure you go early in the day because they sell out quickly - it's just that good!
You can't really talk about food in Ibadan without mentioning this spot. It is probably the most famous place in the country for eating Amala and people visit Ibadan just for this. It is another buka style restaurant in the middle of the Bodija market and is always packed to the brim with customers.
A typical bowl of amala looks like this, yam flour swimming in a trifecta of sauces for a flavor explosion that comforts your soul. Prices aren't bad as well, depending on your choice of protein, your typical meal won't cost more than ₦1,500.
The servers there are your typical impatient Yoruba women so be sure to expect that, but I'm sure you will forget about them once you sit down to eat!
My third buka spot is another that has been around for a long time as well. They serve up a variety of Nigerian dishes but their pounded-yam and egusi soup should be in the history books. My mom had mentioned that back in the day, this was the go-to spot for pounded-yam and in present day, it still is!
*Picture coming soon*
They actually pound yam here, none of that processed poundo stuff, so you get that authentic pounded-yam freshness and texture. Their stews/sauces are always flavor packed so you can imagine how hard the egusi slaps - rich, spicy and savory. My only comment is how much oil they use.
I come here quite a bit because they've got variety. Their rice dishes give all they are supposed to give, definitely one of my favorite places to get food.
If you are looking for a very worthy contender for the best pounded yam in the city, I will have to recommend Iya Ijesha's. It's a quaint buka situation too and when I tried it for the first time, I almost had a seizure.
The pounded yam is silky, soft and almost has a delicate feel to it. The efo riro is fresh and light and hot and the collaboration is immaculate. The flavors aren't as bold as Mama Soji's, so if you prefer milder seasoning and spice, this is a perfectly balanced choice. They have a wide selection of protein, and I typically go for Bokoto/Cow foot.
They only take cash for payment, but there's usually a POS merchant nearby so it's not too much of a hassle. You can locate them here , behind the office of our local football club - The Shooting Stars (3SC).
The Inastrait canteen is another location that has been around for decades. Located directly opposite The Cultural Center in Mokola, it is an open air space with a large selection of vendors and the keyword here is variety.
You and your friends simply pick a table and you will be approached by drink sellers and waiters from the different vendors. Anything from steamy peppersoup with your choice of fresh fish, barbecued meats, ofada rice, it's all available at your beck and call. The drinks are cold and it always feels charming to enjoy the night sky with your best buddies.
Last time I went, I got this catfish peppersoup with sweet potatoes for ₦2,000 and it hit all the right spots. The soup was rich and full of spice, a nice hint of freshness from the scentleaf and onions and a plump catfish from the day's catch.
The Ofada rice is worth mentioning as well! Fluffy grains of rice and a rich pepper sauce paired with sweet fried plantains - so so good. We paired this with sweet palm wine and the overall experience was fantastic. The rice was ₦1,500 and the palm wine was ₦400 per bottle.
Arnheim is a relaxing and secluded art café that I frequent quite often. They have an indoor restaurant and bar but my friends and I prefer to sit outside and soak in the calm garden ambience. They have a mini-golf course as well, and it's a great place to relax and let loose.
They make really juicy sandwiches here and so I typically go for a burger or a club-sandwich. The servings are very filling especially since they come with a helping of crispy fries and a cold Heineken(which is available as draught, by the way). The Arnheim menu is filled with all sorts, averaging about ₦4,000 a meal.
The service and the management could be way better though, but I still enjoy spending time with my friends here.
Tamberma has a lovely space and it comes even more alive at night. The decorative lights give it a starry night feel which I really enjoy . The vibes are really good and they even have a hidden space at the back, which I can't wait for them to open.
They have an extensive menu, and I typically don't trust establishments that have a lot of things on their menu so I play it safe. They are Indian owned restaurant and so this is what I typically order. The lamb curry and butter chicken, work wonders on top of steamed rice and the portions are good for sharing as well. I also really enjoy their chicken and mushroom pizza, which I probably order way more than I should.
Unfortunately, they need to work on their cocktails, heard multiple negative comments on this, so I don't even bother ordering those. Their service is great and they have a lot of parking space. Tamberma prices are on the higher side but open air ambience is worth it. They need to improve their cocktails though.
Martha's makes some of the best quality food available in Ibadan. That fact has become common knowledge and lots of people patronize them not just as a restaurant but also for catering services for events.
They have a wide variety of food but somehow nothing I've eaten here falls short of expectations. For instance, this loaded salad I got was simply sublime. It was an explosion of flavors from sweet to salty to sour and every bite had a satisfying crunch from the fresh greens.
My mom orders from here a lot and one time, she got these potato wedges, some lamb chops and topped it all with rich gravy. The food made me feel warm inside, like it was cooked with love and the best part is that they have quite sizeable portions.
I typically get the food to-go, but they have a cozy dining space. Their service is just okay, doesn't really stand out and I think their restaurant aesthetics need a boost. Martha's kitchen has great prices for the quality and quantity of food they serve. It always feels like a good bargain when your food is made with love.
Wimpy Ibadan - This Lebanese restaurant has the best hummus in the city. It is rich and creamy and goes well with everything. They also have these spicy herb chicken wings that are to die for! They are a bit on the pricey end but their food is amazing.
Paris Bakery - Decently priced and delicious baked goods, particularly their manakeesh's.