Follow us @thehungryblackman on Facebook or IG to add amazing Black owned eateries across the United States to your foodie-indulgence list! Or subscribe to our blog by placing your email below for up-to-date emails and newsletters.
Our Detroit Foodie Tour was one of the most rewarding and interesting tours we’ve had in a while. Fitting, because when I created this platform almost six years ago it was Detroit that kicked it all off. The people, the spirit, the food, and the soul are woven throughout the city despite the unjustified negative press it constantly receives.
One of Detroit’s true gems is the large number of diverse African eateries, although some may be a bit too foreign for the average American diner. That’s truly a shame because they are missing out on robust, new and memorable flavors, as well as unique dining experiences.
We decided to make our way over to the newly opened Baobab Fare. Restaurant owners Hamissi Mamba and Nadia Nijimbere, a husband-and-wife duo who fled their war-torn home of Burundi, took their homeland food and transported it thousands of miles right onto your plate. As a foodie, I am always excited to try new and different cuisine within the African-Diaspora, while also supporting Black owned restaurants with my dollars.
In addition to embodying everything beautiful about Black success, love, and family, they’ve created a dining destination where everything is absolutely amazing. From the bright and vibrant design, to the hospitable service, and of course the OUTSTANDING CUISINE.
What I love about all African food, regardless of where it’s located is the focus on sharable plates with huge portions, with decipherable flavors of the African Diaspora (African-Americans, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Hispanic) cuisine here and there. I deeply appreciate the connection to the motherland through our food, like gumbo, jambalaya, and of course, collard greens.
Our first entrée slapped! We had the Mbuzi, a slow-roasted goat shank accompanied by fresh corn salad served with fried plantains, stewed yellow beans, and spiced rice pilau. According to Chef Mamba, this is a Burundian staple. The shank was so tender we were eating it with a spoon, scooping up rice and topping it with hot sauce sold in the store. Lord have mercy! This dish was EVERYTHING. The taste is mild, but with a deep flavor made even more pronounced when you spoon the beans and corn together to create your own mini “bowl” right at the table.
The dish was large enough to share, but if you’re greedy, get your own. There’s so much that goes into making this dish that it’s only available after 3pm. (Don’t go there acting up talking ‘bout where the goat at during lunchtime.) That’s fair because it really is a dinner entrée to be enjoyed in peace, not rushing back to work or any other daily function. After enjoying this meal, you need to go home and go to sleep.
Next was my favorite dish, which on second thought has to share that spot with the goat, which I absolutely loved. The Samaki is a crisp flash-fried swai fish cooked with peppers and garnished with tangy sautéed onions served with fresh corn salad, fried plantains, stewed yellow beans. We had Mboga, spinach and finely ground peanuts braised in warming spices as our side with rice. This Samaki had me going in as I tasted hints of garlic, ginger and lime. It was topped with caramelized onions tossed in an in-house sauce that complimented the fish perfectly. It was a flavor I couldn’t get enough of and should have requested more.
This dish was so memorable that since returning home to Miami, I have scurried – unsuccessfully – to see if anyone can replicate it. Detroiters are so lucky man. This spot would be my go to at least 3 times a week.
Following the fish, we had the Kuku, a Pan-fried chicken in rich, tangy mustard-onion sauce served with fried plantains, stewed yellow beans, and either spiced rice pilau or coconut rice. This is likely the most relatable dish because of the chicken, especially for those super safe folks that you have to drag to an ethnic restaurant. While my mind was still on the fish, my nephew actually enjoyed the chicken more than everything. I appreciated the tangy mustard sauce and the coconut rice. I actually created yet another unified bite by combing the plantain, rice, and chicken together. Those evolving flavors will take you to a journey that will not be easily forgotten.
I did the same thing with the Nyumbani— tender beef slow-simmered in ripened tomato sauce served with fried plantains, peanut-stewed spinach, and your choice of spiced rice pilau or coconut rice. I combined all of it! This is the signature dish of the restaurant and for good reason. Super fragrant and aromatic along with having a deep flavor profile that lingers as you wash it down with their Passion Fruit juice! Almost forgot about that. Yeah, so the passion fruit juice is EVERYTHING! It comes in a glass bottle and should be ordered with a glass of ice if, like me, you prefer your juice extra cold.
They even have dessert that reminded me of a gelatin version of the juice called, Tamu, which was FIRE!!! It’s literally passion fruit and avocado, which sounds like it won’t work, but when you take a spoon full, it is so smooth that it feels like velvet on the tongue as it gently dissolves before you go in for another scoop. Trust me when I say, you can’t share this. You will eat all of it, so make sure you get your own.
I ordered a side of veggies with their Intore, which is a fragrant eggplant stew served with peanut-stewed spinach, yellow beans or spiced rice pilau. I would eat this with the spinach, but my nephew and Mike, our Media Manager liked it with the rice and beans.
I can’t brag on this space enough. Burundian cuisine is AMAZING! It was so delicious, that it became our favorite and most memorable experience in Detroit, and that was hard af to say because we had such an amazing time tasting all over the city. When we return, this will definitely be our first stop because it checks all the boxes.
I strongly recommend making it a must-visit because you will not regret it. And you’re not alone because many are echoing that sentiment, including the James Beard Foundation. This very deserving restaurant has been named one of their finalists for the coveted James Beard Award! Fingers crossed.
You can visit them online at BaobabFare.com or by phone at (313) 265-3093. They’re located at 6568 Woodward Ave Suite 100, Detroit, MI 48202.