Fans of meat and Swahili spices will be sure to enjoy Swahili Village’s savory cuisine.
Swahili Village, located just northeast of campus at 1990 M St. NW, offers authentic African cuisine from Kenyan sausages ($6.75) and marinated goat to plantains ($4.50) and collard greens ($4.50). The restaurant offers a range of dishes influenced by indigenous African cuisine with a blend of Arab, Portuguese, British and Indian flavors, according to Eater.
When you enter the restaurant, you’ll be greeted with wide mirrors and wall-to-wall portraits of the African savannah. Although closed due to the pandemic, Swahili Village offers generous booth and table seating as well as a bar area.
Swahili Village’s menu lists the Nyama Choma ($27.30), or grilled beef with Swahili spices, and Mbuzi Choma ($29.25), or marinated goat meat with onions, as its most popular items.
But I opted for the “samaki fillet sauteed in onions,” a tilapia dish that comes sauteed in onions and cilantro. The dish normally costs $24.70, but I got it as a lunch special for $14.
The fish is cubed and seared, and the tilapia meat is light and juicy with a crispy exterior. The fish comes with white onion slivers that add a balancing acidity to the dish and fresh cilantro that brings an herbal aroma. But if you’re not a fan of onions and cilantro, you can swap it out for a “rich coconut curry.”
The dish comes with the choice of two sides ($4.50 each). Customers can choose from a range of options, including sukuma wiki (collard greens), maharagwe (stewed red beans) and ugalis (sautéed spinach in coconut milk and cornmeal mash). For my lunch, I opted for the ndizi kaanga (fried plantains) and chapati (a flatbread).
The flatbread was an ideal pairing for the fish. The doughy side was lightly charred, which added an element of smokiness to the dish and soaked up all of the fish’s seasoned juices. My second side, the fried plantains, tasted sweet on the outside and included an earthy and tangy flesh.
Between the crispy chunks of tilapia, the flatbread and the fried plantains, I was more than sufficiently full for a midday meal. But if you try Swahili Village for dinner and save room for dessert, you can try the restaurant’s mango mousse cake ($5) with a graham cracker crust or chocolate fudge cake ($5).
For a taste of Kenyan cuisine, head to Swahili Village for a variety of choices.