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Be Still Stomach: African Food Has Come To Santa Fe

August 13, 2009, 12:00 am
By Rani Molla

located near Hobby Lobby at 2010 Cerrillos, Ste. 13.
I might have dreamt about lamb after my dinner at Jambo Café, located near Hobby Lobby at 2010 Cerrillos Road, Ste. 13, 473-1269.


Despite Santa Fe's 5 million (New) Mexican restaurants, 10 thousand specialty supermarkets, and dozens of Asian appropriation/fusion restaurants and ethnic cafés, one huge demographic—not to mention section of the world—has been left out**: People wanting African food.

To be fair, I don't know what "African" food is or how a continent can be captured on a one-sided menu, but after my hearty but delicate meal at Jambo Café, I can put my appellation hesitancies to rest, at least until I digest.



I've been hankering for the only type of non-Middle Eastern African food I know, Ethiopian food, just as long as I've been in this corner of the country and that was enough to make me need, NEED some Jambo Café and whatever food it had to offer. Jambo was a lot of good things, but sadly there was no solace for my persistent hope for sponge bread and round platters.

There were large agua-fresca-looking containers of fruit punch, chai, and tamarind juice—none too sweet but all fresh. Batik and other cloth artwork ("From Africa with Love"!!!) successfully completed the conversion of Cerrillos strip mall to suitable ethnic dining experience. My dinner, consisting of velvety slivers of lamb shank, an assortment of grilled squash—I skipped the couscous—with a side of mint yogurt sauce($10.95), left me feeling like I'd just reaped the earth's richest bounties. ( A just as plentiful version can be had on a pita for less, $8.95). I believe I saw "whole red snapper" on the menu, but my stomach often deceives me.

I brought home the chicken curry wrap, which I determined to be the café's more Caribbean-esque enterprises, for my roommate. The whole wheat pita was stuffed with a chilled light curry containing a sprinkling of pineapple and nuts and served with golden fried plantains ($8.95). The restaurant's chef, Ahmed Obo, hails from Africa by way of Zia Diner and its clear he has brought with him flare from both.

The cafe has a smattering of tables, two outside with umbrellas, a bar-like seating area and apparently (by the several laptops in view) internet access. Portions were ample but not overwhelming, prices were fair and I've got a new non-New Mexican haunt.

** There are a lot of other food niches left out...

 

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