Every time I got to Hoyo’s Kitchen – which isn’t often enough – I find myself asking, “Why don’t we go here all the time?!”
The Somali fast casual restaurant has been around for several years, starting as a restaurant near Cleveland and 161 on the northeast side. You can read about our visit there back in 2017. (That location isn’t currently open, FYI. It’s being used as a prep kitchen.) Since then, Hoyo’s has added a stall in North Market, with a second, smaller one coming to the new North Market Bridge Park.
We recently visited the market for my birthday lunch; it’s been a few months since I’ve had Hoyo’s, and once again, as I presided over my platter of Somali fare, I wondered why I don’t order this every day of the week.
Hoyo’s is run by two brothers, Abdilahi “A.B.” and Mohamed Hassan. “Hoyo” means “mother” in Somali, so they’re recreating the warmth, welcome, and comfort of a mother’s home cooking. And I’ll tell you: every time we’ve been there, we’ve experienced just that.
With the opening of their North Market stall, Hoyo’s updated their menu to more of a fast casual format, where you build your own meals, starting with a bowl, wrap, or salad – then adding proteins, veggies, cold toppings, sauces, and drinks or sides.
Like any fast casual, it might take you a couple tries to find your favorite combo. The staff there is great, too, in helping you decide.
For instance, here’s the basmati rice with safari chicken, cabbage, chickpeas, and a sambusa (a little triangular fried pocket filled with beef, chicken, or veggies).
Or beef suqaar, lentils, spinach, peppers, tomatoes, and cucumber.
Or my favorite combination so far: a mix of basmati and spicy rice, safari chicken, lentils, and cabbage. The food features a wonderfully warming spice that slowly builds without overwhelming your palate. And the chicken is fall-apart tender.
I always order a side of injera, too. Injera is a spongy, slightly sour bread that’s a staple of Somali cuisine. The whole experience is enhanced by tearing off pieces of injera and scooping up bites. It’s absolutely one of my favorite ways to dine.
When Hoyo’s opened in North Market, it marked the first time an African eatery joined the public market. It’s a significant edition, and one that speaks to the diverse population of the city, and all the wonderful food and culture that comes along with it.
All of this is to say: the food at Hoyo’s is complex and crave-able, the welcome is warm, and it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite bites in the city. If you haven’t been, visit their restaurant or market stall, and look for their new concept Hoyo’s Sambusas & Juices coming soon to North Market Bridge Park.