HOME > Chowhound > Minneapolis-St. Paul >

Somalian Restaurants in Minneapolis?

moriminamimachikko Jul 21, 2009 05:32 PM

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

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. c
    churchka RE: moriminamimachikko Jul 21, 2009 08:08 PM

    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
      moriminamimachikko RE: churchka Jul 22, 2009 10:19 AM

      Thanks for your recommendation and correction. Somali it is!

      1. re: churchka
        kitkat RE: churchka Jul 24, 2009 06:44 AM

        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
          The Dairy Queen RE: kitkat Jul 24, 2009 06:51 AM

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


          1. re: The Dairy Queen
            kitkat RE: The Dairy Queen Jul 24, 2009 06:52 AM

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

      2. k
        kevin47 RE: moriminamimachikko Jul 22, 2009 12:03 PM

        Hamdi on Lake St. is very well regarded.

        1. scoopG RE: moriminamimachikko Jul 22, 2009 06:49 PM

          Here's a recent inquiry:


          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
            kevin47 RE: scoopG Jul 22, 2009 07:15 PM

            FWIW, I thought Safari was pretty blah.

          2. m
            mmm789 RE: moriminamimachikko Jul 23, 2009 01:03 PM

            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
              mrnyc RE: mmm789 Jul 24, 2009 06:49 AM

              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. k
              kitkat RE: moriminamimachikko Jul 24, 2009 06:53 AM

              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
                tex.s.toast RE: kitkat Jul 24, 2009 07:08 AM

                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
                  kitkat RE: tex.s.toast Jul 24, 2009 07:38 AM

                  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
                    mmm789 RE: kitkat Jul 27, 2009 09:51 AM

                    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
                      tex.s.toast RE: mmm789 Jul 27, 2009 10:36 AM

                      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
                        Kowneyn RE: mmm789 Feb 2, 2010 05:33 PM

                        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. g
                  globetrotter1113 RE: moriminamimachikko Aug 2, 2009 03:36 PM

                  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
                    churchka RE: globetrotter1113 Aug 2, 2009 07:05 PM

                    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
                      Kowneyn RE: globetrotter1113 Feb 2, 2010 05:35 PM

                      "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.

                    Show Hidden Posts