Afro Deli and Cafe
1939 South 5th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55454
Last week, I met my friend for lunch at Afro Deli and Cafe, one of her new favorite lunch spots.
Afro Deli and Cafe is located in the African Development Center of MN in the Cedar/Riverside neighborhood. Fortunately, as an Augsburg College employee, my friend is within walking distance of Afro Deli and doesn’t have to worry about parking.
This tiny deli is warm and its walls are painted with vibrant colors. The deli’s seating is limited to a small number of tables and a bar. However, there are benches outside and a conference room in the back. On this occasion, the back room was reserved for a lunch meeting.
Since I had a cold, I wanted to eat something spicy so I ordered small portion of the AfroSteak Dinner for $4.95 and a vegetable sambusa for $1.25 For a beverage, I ordered Somali tea.
After ordering my meal, I was handed a 12 oz cup to fill with hot Somali Chai Tea, located on the bar across from the cashier. As my friend recommended, I topped my tea with milk. According to Michael Mattson, who wrote the following City Pages article “First Look,” the tea reminded him of Russian tea and chai. I felt that the tea tasted like uber-sweet version of chai.
This freshly fried sambusa had a crisp and tender crust. The sambusa was generously filled with a loose mix of lentils and potatoes. The well-spiced filling was warm but did not contain heat. However, the accompanying green sauce provided a tart and herbal kick. I vastly preferred this green sauce over the red tomato-based sauce that tasted like salsa. My only critique is that the filling poured out from the pastry crust, making sauce-dunking difficult.
For my Afrosteak Dinner, I received a deep soup bowl filled with spiced rice and a steaming-hot mixture of beef and vegetables. Normally, I would be annoyed with an overabundance of bland rice or pilaf, but in this case, the rice was so flavorful that I savored every bite. The rice’s spicing was well-balanced with onion and golden raisins. Even more so, I enjoyed the AfroSteak topping. The thin slivers of steak were richly beefy and caramelized. The tomato-based sauce was both sweet from onions and refreshingly sour, complimenting the sweetness in the rice. When I describe the sauce as sour, I mean sour in the most complimentary, addictive way possible. I increased the pleasant spiciness of this dish by stirring in the green sauce. This half-sized portion provided me with a enough leftovers for a second, complete meal.
My friend ordered a half portion of the Chicken Fantastik for $4.95. I remember trying this dish at Safari Express located in Midtown Global Market a couple of years ago, guessing the creamy sauce was made of coconut milk. Upon further investigation, I learned this sauce is made with cream and parmesan cheese. My dining companion frequently orders this entree, commenting that she appreciates the abundance of fresh vegetables.
I found Chef Jamal Hashi’s recipe for Chicken Fantastik at the following Showcase Minnesota website:
Overall, I prefer the AfroSteak Dinner over the suqquar dishes at Safari Express. I would like to continue to explore African restaurants located in the Twin Cities and was excited to read Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl’s review of Azima!, a Minneapolis Kenyan restaurant at the link below:
Happy eating. Who needs a $5 footlong when you can eat an AfroSteak Dinner?