Warm savory spices, lots of colorful fresh veggies, and tender, slow-cooked meats is the kind of food Nadia Nijimbere and her husband, Mamba Hamissi, grew up on.
“The Flavor comes from the veggies and the slow cooking,” explains Nijimbere. “To give something delicious, we put love in it. You put patience in it.”
Both Nijimbere and Hamissi are originally from Burundi, a small country in East Africa. The happy couple is now the proud owner of Baobab Fare in Detroit’s New Center area, but it was a tough journey to get there. They both came to the US as refugees seeking asylum.
In 2013 Nijimbere first came to America, and she found her way to Freedom House in Detroit. The shelter is unique in that it offered legal counsel, health care, and many other services all under one roof, free of charge. Just a little while after coming to America, however, Nijimbere found out she was pregnant with twins. It took two more years before Hamissi was able to come to America and join his family.
Not having many options for employment, they decided to start a restaurant serving up food from their homeland. They started with pop-ups and joined the Hatch Detroit competition in 2017 which they won.
In early 2021 they opened the doors to Baobab Fare.
“A baobab will grow in the desert without water,” says Hamissi. “We’re going to grow like a baobab in Detroit.”
The restaurant beautifully blends Africa and Detroit with colorful bright chairs and patterns on the wall, with an industrial chic feel.
They have many dishes that are classic to Burundi. First time trying the cuisine? Try their Kumuhana, chicken that has been marinated with onion, garlic, and lemon which is then grilled. Their signature dish is called Nyumbani, which is tender beef braised in a tomato sauce. If you are in the mood for something lighter, try the Samaki, a mild white fish that is pan-fried and topped with tangy mustardy sautéed onions. Their cuisine is very veggie-heavy, so vegans have some great options. You won’t want to miss their dessert either, it is a creamy pudding made with avocado, sweet-tangy passion fruit, with chia seeds on top.
Baobab Fare is on the corner of Woodward and East Grand Boulevard. Currently, they offer dine-in and carry-out.