Hessini Roots International is tucked into a lonely row of shops on a nearly deserted residential street. Owner Ifiok Etuk's aunties frequently watch over the place on quiet nights, leafing through magazines and making phone calls. Local artwork and a wood carving of Africa adorn the walls, the sweet sounds of R& B play on the stereo, and a romance self-help book, written by the owner, is propped ceremoniously near the back wall. Etuk moved to the United States from Nigeria in 1987, and after a stint at Taco Bell, he opened his own spot several years ago; the menu -- a combination of Southern soul food, Mexican dishes and West African specialties -- reflects that background. And right in the middle of the menu, amid the wings, catfish, burritos and macaroni and cheese, is a section of dishes made from the recipes of his family in Nigeria, including jollof rice, fufu and fried plantains. Goat, tripe and cow's feet are listed as meat options alongside the fried chicken.
My meals at African Grill and Bar left me hungry to try more jollof rice and fufu, which led me to Hessini Roots International, just a few blocks past Stapleton in Aurora. The restaurant, tucked into a lonely row of shops on a nearly deserted... More »
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