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Mar 14, 2007 02:39 PM

Columbus, OH Somali

Has anyone been to the Somali joints on Cleveland Ave.? Any recommendations?

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  1. ive asked this before -- i wish you would go in and report back!

    1. I don't know what to make of that pushy reply, but whatever.

      I just got back from Darbo ( ), and it was excellent. The guy handling the front of the house couldn't have been nicer, and whoever was back there cooking had it on lock. When you sit down you get what looks like yellow drink, but it's pineapple juice. It's free and it goes great with the food. I had the "famous" goat chunks, which were delicious and very tender. Everything comes with curry rice, pasta, or jabati bread (similar to Moroccan crepes or, if that doesn't help, flaky pita). I got the curry rice, which came in a mountainous portion -- fine, since it was very tasty. I found a clove and a cardamom pod in it. I dragged along my dad, who is not an adventurous eater at all. He got the shawarma, which had the kalankal chicken in it, and he loved it.

      Somebody has obviously invested a lot in this restaurant. For kind of a blah area and not the greatest piece of property, Darbo is very clean, nicely decorated, and has one of the better restaurant websites I've come across. Speaking of the website, take the menu with a grain of salt. First, ignore the part about them having Italian food. Second, I have no doubt the chef prepared everything you see on there, but that's not exactly what you get. You get whatever meat you order, whatever starch you want, and a small pile of shredded lettuce with cream. That's not a knock, just an FYI. The food is outstanding, and it's a great value. The goat was $7 and the shawarma was $6, plus a tip, no tax, pineapple juice included. I think everything was in the $6-8 range. A fine example of chowish food. Highly recommended.

      2 Replies
      1. re: DistrictSelectman

        what i meant was that i and others have asked about columbus somali before and there was scant response. since you posted and asked i was hoping you or somebody would go and report, which you did. sory if you thought that was pushy? #@$% internet!

        anyhoo -- what a nice website that place has, nice pics of all the food -- i enjoy african food but ive never seen somali food before, its a void in ny -- ive always wondered about it since the somalis were brought to the usa. the curry rice looks good and the flaky schwarma jabati bread looks very interesting.

        otoh the italian bent here and with marka below is rather odd, i wonder where that trend came from? italians in somalia at one time maybe?

        this is all good news -- finally cols somali restaurants are coming online.

        1. re: mrnyc

          When Africa was split up, Italy got Somali. In my experience, Somalis eat a lot of pasta with a red sauce, but to call it Italian would be a stretch. Actually, I like much of the homecooked Somali pasta I've had much more than any Italian pasta with red sauce I've had.

      2. I've been to the Marka Bistro on Morse. The owner is Somali but he was trained in Italy. The food is excellent (Somali/Italian) but it isn't the cleanest place I've ever been.

        1. no worries, mrnyc. if anyone else checks that place out, i'm curious about the cajeera zigni, which, from the picture, looks like some kind of tibs/doro wot combo. i wouldn't be surprised if some of the best ethiopian in columbus is to be found at a somali place. i'll be going back soon enough, so i'll report on it if i don't hear from you all first.

          1. Just an update, since I went back this week for carry-out. I got the goat curry, the salmon, and the canjeera (Ethiopian-ish dish). Surprisingly, the salmon was the best of the bunch. It looked like it had a thorough rub of turmeric on it, and it was a very good deal for 7 or 8 bucks. The goat curry was good, but the goat was just as good by itself, so I would skip the curry sauce. And I was wrong about the canjeera. It wasn't bad, but kind of a weird hodge-podge, and I have a hard time eating Ethiopian food with just the injera it's served on -- it gets way too mushy.

            That is not to say that the food was bad in any way; I think I just picked better the first time around. The grilled goat and the chicken shawarma were very good, and the salmon would be great for someone who prefers fish. I would also skip the pasta and go with the curry rice or the jabati bread.

            While we were waiting for the food (which didn't take long), we were served free pineapple juice, and although I had to ask for it, the guy was super accommodating. He packed in two cans of soda and a bottled water, along with three bananas for dessert -- all free. Plus, I found out there is a kind of drive-up there, where you just pull your car up to the door, and someone will come out and take your order. Kind of funny, I think, since I would so much rather sit inside and drink pineapple juice than hang out in my car while the food's being cooked, but there you go.