The best food in a city is usually found in the most unexpected (and unassuming) places. These are spots one only learns about by word of mouth. Chez Thomas is no exception. It is the type of restaurant you could drive by a hundred times without even noticing. However, if you taste Thomas’ famous grilled chicken even once, you will never drive by this restaurant so easily again!
I’ve eaten jerk in Jamaica’s Boston Bay, tandoori in Delhi’s finest restaurants, and barbecue in some of the best joints the southern USA has to offer. However, I can tell you that Thomas’ famous grilled chicken is by far my favorite. What makes his chicken so special? I can’t be too sure; but, I suspect it has something to do with the flavorful marinade Thomas uses, which permeates the meat (and even the bones) with an aromatic and full bodied flavor that is lightly spiced, perfectly balanced, and completely addictive.
When you arrive at Thomas’ humble establishment you will be struck by an inviting, smoky aroma wafting off the open air grills. As you draw closer, your eyes will feast on the rows of chickens splayed invitingly on the grill, all of which are being cooked to a deep, rich golden brown under Thomas’ watchful eye.
When ready, this tantalizing chicken is cut into perfectly sized pieces, tossed with raw onions and peppers (to taste) and finished with a dollop of Thomas’ delicious sauce (which really ought to be bottled). The ensemble is snuggled up in an aluminum foil package that will allow the flavors to marry, as the fresh veggies steam, on your ried home.
Thomas tells us his business has been in the very same location in II Plateau since he first opened the establishment 32 years ago as a new immigrant from neighboring Benin. Thomas’ steadfastness and commitment to quality ingredients, fair prices, and good service has earned Thomas a loyal following of addicts –some of whom travel from as far away as Macory (a 45 minute trip) for a hit of his famous chicken.
II Plateau, Abidjan
Directions: Take Boulevard Latrille, heading towards Plateau. Just after Sococe, you will see an SGBCI bank branch on your right-hand side. Chez Thomas is in the group of buildings right after SGBCI. If you get a bit lost, don’t hesitate to ask a passer by. Everyone in the neighborhood knows Thomas and can point you in the right direction!
Hours of Operation: 11:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. daily
Price Range: Moderate (a whole chicken sells for 4,000 CFA –roughly US$8)