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Somalian Restaurants in Minneapolis?

I'm visiting Minneapolis this week and am wondering if anyone can recommend a good Somalian restaurant?

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  1. The most accessible to Westerners is Safari in the Midtown Market. It is a fast food Somali* place in a big ethnic food court. Very good food and very good service.

    There are a variety of other places in town. Some don't have English speaking or good English speaking staff. Some have dining areas separate for men and women. Not that the food isn't good in these places, it just isn't as accessible for some people. I like Hamdi Restaurant at 818 E Lake Street. I really like the fish from there.

    *you probably want to use "Somali" instead of "Somalian". It is more correct and more often used. Not that Somalian is wrong, I've just never heard a Somali use it.

    4 Replies
    1. re: churchka

      Thanks for your recommendation and correction. Somali it is!

      1. re: churchka

        I'm pretty sure Safari still has a home base on Nicollet Avenue around 14th St. or so. (Not just in the Midtown Market.)

        Good to hear about Hamdi--and good to hear what I should try. I keep meaning to try it. (It's just that I only end up near it when I've already got my heart set on something else in the neighborhood and have already come into the neighborhood for THAT restaurant as a desination.)

        1. re: kitkat

          I think that "main" location of Safari has closed.

          ~TDQ

          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            Oh no! I was going to go there again one day.

      2. Hamdi on Lake St. is very well regarded.

        1. Here's a recent inquiry:

          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/625363

          The Midtown Market on Lake Street seems more of lunch place to me - it is pretty quiet at 8 pm.

          1 Reply
          1. re: scoopG

            FWIW, I thought Safari was pretty blah.

          2. Ethiopian food is one of my all-time favorites, and I've often wondered the difference between it and Somali. I read on Wikipedia that Somali food is a "mixture of Ethiopian and Middle Eastern cuisines with Italian influences."

            That said, I've always though that Ethiopian food had hints of Middle Eastern flavors. I think that for all practical purposes in the Twin Cities, Ethiopian and Somali food are more or less equivalent.

            My two favorite Ethiopian places are Fasika on Snelling Ave in St Paul, and the Blue Nile on Franklin Ave in Mpls. I often see Somalis eating at Fasika.

            -----
            Fasika Ethiopian Restaurant
            510 Snelling Ave N, Saint Paul, MN 55104

            Blue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant
            2027 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404

            1 Reply
            1. re: mmm789

              aah, but you folks in minneapolis (and columbus, ohio the number two somali city) have the opportunity to compare these two cuisines that the rest of us can only dream about!

            2. If you're interested in Somali snack food, try just about any Somali-owned coffee shop on Cedar, Nicollet, etc. Last time I was at one, you could get a tuna-filled or beef-filled triangle-shaped pastry for $1, and 2 of them made me happily content like I'd had my lunch.

              5 Replies
              1. re: kitkat

                The triangle shaped pastries you refer to are known as Sambusas (presumably from a similar linguistic derivation as Indian Samosas) and the very friendly guys at Cairo Grill at Franklin and Chicago make some good ones, filled with nicely spiced beef for a buck each. Never seen tuna ones before - but Cairo Grill (strange name for a Somali place but its definitely Somali) also makes a mean milk tea.

                1. re: tex.s.toast

                  Hee--I always thought "Safari" was a little funny of a name for a Somali place, too! But then I found out the proprietors had spent a good part of their lives in Tanzania, where one would expect a lot more safariing. Thanks for the sambusa tip! (I had tuna at the...I can't remember the name...the cafe/internet shop/recreation area on the corner of 15th & Nicollet. They're only available when the person cooking them has been available to bring them by. But I do remember tuna.

                  1. re: kitkat

                    Sambusas and spiced tea with milk are more of a region-wide East African cuisine. When I lived in Tanzania, and visited Kenya, sambusas where ubiquitous.

                    1. re: mmm789

                      The specific place i mentioned (Cairo Grill at Franklin and Chicago in the "Chicago Crossings Mall") is definitely somali owned-operated, even if the snacks i usually buy are not distinctly so.

                      1. re: mmm789

                        Sambusa and tea is stricktly Somali, and those East African countries have Somali population. There are ethnic Somalis living in Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania.

                2. I have lived in East Africa on and off for several years and have yet to hear of 'Somali' cuisine....not sure if it exists. Most Somalis live anywhere but in Somalia (which is completely destroyed) and take on the culture of their host nation...not much in the way of cultural contributions.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: globetrotter1113

                    There are over 9 million people in Somalia, so it is definitely inhabited. And I believe they have a cuisine. The food Somalis eat is very different from Ethiopian food, their neighbor.

                    In my experience working with and having good friendships with many Somalis I can say that they have a cuisine that is very influenced by Italy, India, and the middle east. For day to day food, it is very simple-- rice or pasta, usually with a spicy tomato sauce, and meat or fish of some kind. Sambusas are typical for holidays and breaking fasts.

                    And to say they have taken on the "culture of their host nation" is crazy. Clearly Somalis in Minnesota have been able to hold on to their culture including their food (tons of Somali restaurants), their dress, their music (I hear it all the time), and most other customs.

                    1. re: globetrotter1113

                      "most of Somalis live anywhere but in Somalia" you couldn't be more wrong , Somalis have the largest daisparo population in Africa. There are Somalis in America, Canada, Europe, Asia (I mean all over the world and it's hundreds of thousands).
                      Forget about Somali ethnic that live a good junk of Kenya and Ethiopia and Yemen.