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Juba Restaurant (Phoenix, AZ)

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Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Juba Restaurant is located in the heart of a Somali enclave in Phoenix. It’s situated in an old strip mall, and doesn’t look like much from the outside, but appearances can be deceiving.

Arman and I arranged to have lunch with our buddy Eric this week at Juba. As usual, we were segregated off to one side of the restaurant with all the non-Somalis. The Somalis eat on the other side, almost completely out of view. This doesn’t offend me, but it is kind of intriguing. I do believe it diminishes our experience to some extent though, because we aren’t able to participate in the lunch buffet, which is situated in the Somali room. Anyway, we started with an order of Sanbusa ($5), which are a deep fried pastries filled with ground beef and Somali spices…kind of like a Somali pastie. We all enjoyed the Sanbusa.

Arman and I both ordered Chicken Sukhaar ($8), which is an amazing dish. It has perfectly grilled strips of chicken marinated in a special sauce, with carmelized onions, tomato, and fresh parsley. The chicken is so deeply marinated, that when you cut it in half, you can see that even the center of the meat has the yellowish coloration of the delicious marinade. It is served with lime, which you can squeeze over the meat if you wish. I find this is a good flavor enhancer. As a side, you get an entire plate of saffron-infused basmati rice. The rice is awesome; I ate the entire plateful and was still craving more!

Eric got the Chicken Kabob ($5), which is one of their many Mediterranean offerings. After the first bite, he was already raving about how good it was. It had the same wonderful grilled chicken as my plate, along with lettuce, tomato, and a yogurt sauce all wrapped in grilled pita bread.

Juba is my favorite African restaurant in the east valley. Cafe Lalibela has better atmosphere, presentation, and service, but simply put, Juba’s got the chow! It’s a must try.

5050 E. McDowell Rd.
Phoenix, AZ 85008
phone: (602) 244-1206
fax: (602) 244-1208
hours: everyday 9am-10pm (closed from 11:30am to 1:30pm on Fridays)

More Phoenix restaurant reviews and photos at: www.chowdownphoenix.com

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  1. I liked it as well - and it's the one place in PHX you can find a cab :) There are always about 80 parked out front. I noticed there's an (Italian?) ice cream place that seems to have opened next door. I'm curious to give it a try and see if there's a Somali/African twist.

    4 Replies
    1. re: tastyjon

      lol, you're right about the cabs!

      I didn't notice the ice cream parlor, but that sounds good. There's also another restaurant, Cafe Nazionale, located in the same strip mall. Does anyone know anything about that? It seems really busy every time I go by.

      1. re: jasonaz

        I LOVE Juba...I always thought it was funny that I am always seated on the "non-Somali" side, but I could care less...the food is great!!!

        1. re: HomeCookKirsten

          Wonderful--another Juba-lover! :)

          What dishes have you tried there? I have gotten the Sukhaar both times I went. I would love recommendations on what to try next time.

          1. re: jasonaz

            Hmm, the greek salad is great, as is the hummus. If I recall, there also is some type of appetizer sampler platter that is good?

            I normally get the ground lamb kabobs or the stewed goat dish. I HIGHLY recommend the ground lamb on a stick thing, with lots of their homemade hot sauce and the rice they serve with it.

            Everything I have ever tried has been good. I try to spy on others eating and order whatever they are having. So far it hasn't led me astray.