Simileoluwa Adebajo was born in America but identifies more with her Nigerian roots. When asked where she is from, she will tell you that she is more from “Ikenne Remo in the Ogun State of Nigeria.”

After spending most of her adult life in Nigeria and returning to San Francisco to complete graduate school, she felt that something was missing.

We spoke with Simileoluwa via email about her idea to open her own Nigerian restaurant in San Fran.

Photo courtesy of Imuetinyan Aiguwurhuo

Travel Noire:What inspired you to open Eko Kitchen and when did the vision come to you?

Simileoluwa:  I opened Eko Kitchen because I missed Lagos. I grew up in Lagos, Nigeria and have always felt like that was home, so when I moved to San Francisco in 2016 for my Masters of Science in International & Development Economics and discovered that there were absolutely no Nigerian restaurants or clubs in the city, I was terribly homesick. I decided to cook in large batches to share with my friends from grad school, and they enjoyed it so much that I ended up registering Eko Kitchen as a business when I finished grad school in 2018. 

Photo courtesy of Aba Micah & Reed Davis

TN: What can we expect when we visit your restaurant?

Simileoluwa: When you visit Eko Kitchen, you can expect to have a soulful, delicious, fiery meal accompanied by some hypnotic afrobeats music. We want to give you the idea that you are in a lounge in Lagos without actually being there. We will also have art on display from Nigerian artists, artisans and photographers which you can buy if you’re interested. Most importantly, you can expect to not wait too long for your food and a good number of vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options. There will also be takeout packs for people in a hurry, and a week day corporate catering offering. In summary, we can assure you minimal wait times, good food and service, and a good time all around. 

Photo courtesy of Aba Micah & Reed Davis

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TN: Tell us about the upcoming re-grand opening.

Simileoluwa: We will be opening at our new permanent location at 167 11th Street in San Francisco on Friday, May 3rd. This will be our soft opening, so all food that weekend will be discounted. We hope to have a great time filled with music and good vibes as well as delicious food. I am most excited for people to try our Naija-style brunch on Saturdays which will feature my handmade, freshly baked Agege Bread.

Photo courtesy of Aba Micah & Reed Davis

TN: Have you always been in the food service industry? If not, what did you do before?

Simileoluwa: I have not been professionally trained and have actually never been in the foodservice industry. I actually have a Bachelor’s degree in Economics, and before Eko Kitchen, I was getting my Masters’ degree in International and Development Economics and working as a financial analyst for Twitch, here in San Francisco. Twitch was a great employer that gave me a contract that did not stifle the growth of my business.

Photo courtesy of Aba Micah & Reed Davis

TN: What are the must-try dishes when we visit?

Simileoluwa: Our most popular dish so far is the Asun, which is smoked goat meat cooked in a sweet and spicy bell pepper, tomato, habanero and onion sauce, served with fried plantains and sweet potatoes.

TN: Where can we find Eko Kitchen online?

Simileoluwa: On Instagram ekokitchensf or Facebook Eko Kitchen.