The Eat.Drink.Lagos Guide to Buying (and Enjoying) Street Food
You won’t read it in the big publications, but Lagos is a great “street food” city. The frantic pace of the city and its streets, teeming with bodies, are the secret sauce to this greatness. For as long as I can remember, there have been hawkers and vendors and the hole-in-the-wall places called ‘Mama Put’ or Bukas selling all kinds of delicacies.
From akara and dundun to boli, Lagos is home to an array of street food spots. To navigate, here are a few tips that might help. They definitely helped me.
Ask the locals
You can never go wrong with this. Ask people who live around or work around any particular place and they can point you to the best street food vendors around. I mean are you even a resident if you can’t point out the best suya or best Amala joint in your area? That’s right, ask the locals.
Timing is very important in the art of buying street food- especially from mobile hawkers. While some are available through the day, other delicacies are available only at certain times during the day. The times may vary from vendor to vendor, but generally you find food like koko and akara in the mornings, roasted corn or boli in the afternoons and suya at night. I don’t trust any who sells suya in broad daylight, to be honest.
I know this sounds scary, but if I don’t tell you who will? Be ready for delectable meals but also some not-so-great ones. People may have raved over a particular joint and how amazing the food is but don’t go trying it expecting your mind to be blown. Most of the time, raves are accusing sometimes,-they aren’t. Also, watch out for your stomach, I have had to race to the restroom more than a few times after trying new places, lol. But you win some, lose some right? It’s a risk I’m willing to take anyway.
Dingy is better
The last tip might be a little terrifying as well but hear me out. The more hole-in-the-wall a Mama Put place is, the more likely it is to have really tasty stuff. Don’t believe me? Think of the buka in your area that sells the best Amala. I remember this one place near my old office in VI that was an alley sandwiched between two buildings. Their Amala was divine, and always made me want to go back and conquer all the work on my desk.