Explore all the eastern African flavors of this burgeoning neighborhood.
Image: @branjohn09 at Fasika
Written by: Joy Summers
One of the best parts of urban living is the collective of people all bringing together that beautiful mixing pot of experiences and flavors. In Saint Paul’s Little Africa neighborhood there are shops, businesses, and restaurants owned and operated largely by northeastern African immigrants. It’s an area easily accessible by public transportation - just a short walk from Metro Transit’s Green Line. Found around here are rich cups of coffee, hearty feasts, and shops to stock a pantry.
Owned and operated by Afeworki Bein, an Eritrean American, this cafe’s menu serves a host of dishes and cuisines. At Snelling Cafe there are gyros, burgers, Eritrean, and Ethiopian dishes. For beverages there are coffee drinks along with a full bar. Order the crispy, stuffed sambusas.
This beloved Ethiopian restaurant is also one of the most popular places for vegetarian eating in the city. At Fasika order a breadth of veggie curries and dishes all perfumed with warm spices like cumin, cardamom, curry, ginger, and more. It’s all served on tangy injera for scooping and eating.
This tidy little market is stocked with the flavors of East Africa and an excellent stop to find some fresh injera to bring home. Addis also a great spot to shop for tea and spices.
Inside the Sunshine Building on Snelling Avenue is Sabrina’s Cafe is an East African coffee shop with a menu stacked with dishes from the mediterranean. Order a Sabrina's froth latte or request an Ethiopian coffee ceremony. Nearby Hamline students know this is also an excellent stop for roasted and shaved gyro meat, tucked into a warm pita.
Little Africa Coffee & Corp.
A little further down University Avenue is this coffee shop known for spiced Somali chai. It’s a milky, deeply spiced, and sometimes sweet drink that is even more delicious on a blustery Minnesota day. There are also crispy crusted sambusas stuffed with gently spiced meat.
Joy Summers is an award-winning columnist and food writer whose work has appeared in Food Network Magazine, People, City Pages, Minnesota Monthly, Lavender, and Eater. She's been known to take to backcountry roads and plunge into new environments in search of elusive ingredients at their peak. As a passionate storyteller, she strives to connect people with the words that serve them best. She lives in Cathedral Hill with her husband and young children.