Table of Ghanaian cuisine from Columbus’ Drelyse African Restaurant (photo courtesy of Drelyse African Restaurant)
Food + Drink

Drelyse African Restaurant, Columbus

Restaurateur Lisa Bannerman’s capital-city spot serves the authentic dishes she grew up with in Ghana.

Lisa Bannerman has embraced the joy of cooking since her early youth, receiving a small stove at the age of 9 that set her on a path to sharing the cuisine of her native country, Ghana.

“I grew up in the hospitality field among old ladies,” Bannerman says.

After helping manage her aunt’s restaurant in Ghana, Bannerman carried that passion for cooking to the United States. She moved to Cleveland in 2004 and then to Columbus, where she put herself through culinary school and within a couple years opened Drelyse African Restaurant.

Bannerman’s eatery sits on Tamarack Circle, a one-way street in northeast Columbus that encircles a large block of businesses. Its small storefront has a counter and four large tables, and Afrobeat music plays over speakers. The menu is divided into appetizers and side dishes, salads, a collection of main courses and a selection of entree-size dishes focused on rice, fish, turkey, spinach and beans.

Fufu and light chicken soup at Columbus’ Drelyse African Restaurant (photo courtesy of Drelyse African Restaurant)

For starters, diners should try a sambusa. The crispy shell is filled with ground beef, onion and seasonings and served with a cup of a pleasantly fiery red sauce tinged with habanero. Don’t miss a signature side of fried plantains as well. The small dish of the sliced fruit arrives at the table crisp with caramelized edges and soft interiors.

Our server was helpful in suggesting dishes to try. She recommended the beef spinach stew with fufu. Fufu is a dish that is ubiquitous in West African cuisine. Drelyse’s version is made from cassava (also called yuca) that is ground, cooked and shaped into a ball. It is sticky, starchy and lightly sweet, and is eaten by tearing off small clumps and using them to scoop up bites of stew. The relatively neutral flavor of the fufu is an interesting contrast to the rich stew filled with tender chunks of beef, spinach and loads of spices.

Banku and fried fish at Columbus’ Drelyse African Restaurant (photo courtesy of Drelyse African Restaurant)

Jollof rice is another staple of West African dining, and the restaurant’s version is memorable. It’s served on a long, wooden platter with a small side salad and choice of protein. The rice arrives with a side of thicker sauce that is poured on top. When scooped with piece of a wonderfully seasoned, fall-off-the-bone chicken, it’s a real winner.

“I love the excitement of cooking,” Bannerman says. “I don’t like to eat that much, but I love people coming by and seeing the happiness on their face. It really lights me up.” 

1911 Tamarack Circle N., Columbus 43229, 614/430-3350,