A Famous Nigerian Pop-Up Chef Hits Culver City With Big West African Flavors


Image via Eater LA


Culver City’s stock continues to rise with the arrival of Ilé Bistro, a casual take on the popular underground Nigerian pop-up that first earned him a reputation in LA. Chef Tolu “Eros” Erogbogbo is going for a more approachable, everyday take on West African food (compared to his dinner series, at least) with his new restaurant inside Citizen Public Market, with an opening slated for Friday, March 24 at noon.

For those unfamiliar, Ilé the pop-up is a Nigerian tasting menu evening at a private residence in Hollywood that spans some of West Africa’s most famous dishes, including jollof rice and pepper soup. At this new Culver City outpost, Eros is leaning into those familiarities with rice bowls and soups offered in a variety of ways, including with proteins like roasted chicken or oyster mushrooms in addition to rotating sauces, toppings, and sides. Diners will be able to pick and choose their preparation, and then watch as it’s prepared in front of them from the small corner space inside the food hall. The opening menus are below.

As with the pop-up original, Ilé Bistro will offer some seriously hard-to-find ingredients and spices from Nigeria that Eros imports himself, including umilo fruit and gbafilo coconut plum seeds. The so-called Billionaire Chef, who is also popping up at Coachella this year as part of the Outstanding in the Field series, has deep connections to the dining scene in Lagos, Nigeria, including multiple restaurants there.

The incoming Ilé Bistro takes up residence at the former Pizzette stand inside Citizen Public Market. That space already included a wood-fired oven for Nancy Silverton’s small pizzas, so expect lots of fire and heat from Ilé Bistro’s new menu. Other newer tenants to the market include Liwei Liao’s Uoichiba, which debuted with hand rolls, chirashi bowls, and sashimi using lots of dry-aged fish on Wednesday, March 1, and hand-pulled noodle specialist Bang Bang Noodles. Each joins a slew of newer Culver City openings of late, including the recently-finished Culver Steps development just across the street, which even has its own hyper-trendy Erewhon grocery store. Other spots, like new all-day French jewel box Juliet, are not far away.

Ilé Bistro opens Friday, March 24 at 9355 Culver Boulevard, Culver City, CA 90232, keeping ongoing hours after the opening from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. In time, Eros hopes to expand to noon-through-dinner service.