Category Archives: Somali

Hoyo’s Kitchen

somali restaurants columbus ohio
5786 Columbus Square (near intersection of SR 161/East Dublin-Granville Road Cleveland Avenue)
Open 7 days a week lunch and dinner.

Solay Bistro had amassed a cult following among adventurous eaters, and its recent disappearance left many perplexed – it shut down for Ramadan and just never opened back up.
It’s open now, under the name of Hoyo’s Kitchen, and the explanation for what transpired is as follows: upon closing for Ramadan, a change of ownership took place. The new owner wanted to do some work on the place, including dining room refurbishments, rebranding, and menu adjustments, which always takes longer than one might expect.
What they wisely did not change, however, is the kitchen staff. The food is of the same quality as before, which is to say very good. A cook who we knew from the first days of Solay’s opening was eager to freely convey her confidence in the new ownership. Pictured below is the vegetarian sampler with canjeero.
somali food in ohio
In our discussions with the new owner and his family, we felt similarly optimistic. Friendly, capable, and eager to please, they made it abundantly clear that Hoyo’s mission was to create an environment that was welcoming to all, and that maintaining the quality food standards set by Solay were a top priority. And, more to the point, they proved it with how we were served and what we were served.
So, in summation – if you were a fan of Solay, or are simply interested in trying Somali food, we strongly recommend that you try Hoyo. Most of the same dishes are available with some additions. One new appetizer is bajiya which are like a Somali falafel. You’ll also find a coffee shop menu with hot drinks and sweets and there are plans to add breakfast in a few months when the restaurant is more established.

Ginevra Cafe

mediterranean restaurants columbus Somali

2285 Morse Road

Click here to map it!

At the end of last year we wrote “In the short time it has been open, Ginevra has had an interesting evolution. It started as a Somali coffee shop offering coffee, tea, snacks and desserts but has recently expanded to offer a full lunch and dinner menu. Rather than providing a strictly Somali menu, they opted for mix of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Somali dishes”.  At that time the kitchen was being run by Mo, the nephew of one of Columbus’ well known Middle Eastern chefs – Nasir of Lavash (and formerly of Firdous).

Now Ginevra has transitioned again and they are serving a more Somali focused menu. Based on our recent visit and reports from Somali friends this change is proving very popular with their customers. On the night we visited the restaurant was almost full with large groups of Somali men animatedly discussing politics and soccer.

The menu is small with six entrees and four sandwiches. Entree options are lamb shank, beef or chicken steak, beef or chicken suqaar or fish steak. Each can be served with either rice or pasta. We would recommend the rice. The pasta was linguine in what tasted like jar-sauce.

somali restaurants columbus

The lamb shank was tender and was served with sauteed onions and a mountain of Somali rice and salad. Optional hot sauce is available. We also tried the chicken steak, suqaar and the fish steak. All were well cooked and seasoned.

somali restaurants ohio

As is common in Somali restaurants each entree is preceded by a complimentary bowl of soup. This is usually a mildly spiced meat based broth with vegetables. The soup at Ginevra was very good.

ginevra cafe columbus

I don’t think a visit to Ginevra would be complete without the Somali chai which has a wonderful mix of ginger and cardamon. Our tea came in a teapot to share. I would also recommend the Ginevra special juice, an intriguing mix of dates and milk but quite delicious.

somali tea shop

Service is friendly and Ginevra also has free wifi. Somali desserts and snacks (such as Sambusa) are available from the counter.


somali restaurants columbus

CLOSED (as of Sept 2013)

Cuisine: Somali

727 Georgesville Rd, Columbus, OH 43228
(614) 308-7950

Click here to map it!

Most of Columbus’ Somali restaurants are found in the NE section of town – in particular around the Morse Road/Cleveland Avenue area – but there are also a small cluster of Somali restaurants on the West side. One of these is Kulan, situated next to Super Torta restaurant. It’s a small restaurant with a spare but clean dining room, and is worth a visit if you are looking for Somali food on the West side.

somali restaurants west side columbus

As with many Somali restaurants there are strong Ethiopian influences. We tried the Sporty dish (Ethiopian) with canjeero (anjera). It was not quite as described on the menu but came with Ethiopian style spicy beef and a bowl of mild yellow dal. $18 perhaps seemed a little steep for this meal, but it was part of a 5-person feast in which we all ended up paying $10 per person and had plenty of food as well as Somali tea and bottled water and the obligatory bananas.

kulan restaurant

The roasted goat was fine, but not up to the level of Solay‘s. The chicken suqaar (chicken stew with small cubes of chicken) was very good. Our suqaar came with a side of the more-or-less typical Somali rice (long grain cooked with some fragrant spices and served with a few sauteed vegetables).

somali food columbus ohio

We also tried and enjoyed the fool (pinto beans cooked with tomato, onion, peppers and spices) which is most commonly eaten as a breakfast dish.

somali food in ohio

Somali Famine Fundraiser Dinners

Thanks to your support, the dinners that we organized in September to raise money for the famine in the Horn of Africa were very successful. We were able to send $2400 to the American Refugee Committee who are working on the ground in Somalia, we also introduced some new people to Somali food, connected with the Somali community and had wonderful feedback on Nadira’s delicious cooking.

fundraiser for somali famine

Sadly the famine continues to claim the lives of innocent children and we wanted to do more to support the victims of the famine. At this time of Thanksgiving when we give thanks for the food on our plates, please consider making a donation to the American Refugee Committee or attending one of our upcoming fundraiser dinners. The ARC are working very hard to improve conditions in the refugee camps and our assistance can help them to make a difference.

Here is a recent update on conditions from the ARC program director in Somalia:

“Fleeing for their life, many of the families have trekked for days before reaching Mogadishu. They left behind almost all of their household effects. They arrived in waves, populating spontaneously created internally displaced person (IDP) settlements within the city. They hardly come with containers to collect and store water, utensils to cook food, or spare clothes to replace the ones they’ve been wearing for days and weeks. Most of the temporary settlements still lack sanitary facilities. The IDPs who ended up in urban settings faced serious problems in finding proper open space to relieve themselves – in fact, women have to wait until sunset to venture out of the squalid settlements to answer nature’s call. Owing to shortage of water and the absence of latrines, many people are unable to bathe for extended periods of time.”

“After four months of sustained relief assistance by the international community, the drought and famine continues to ravage southern Somalia – and Mogadishu. Currently, there are more than 300 IDP settlements scattered all over Mogadishu. The conditions of many of these are quite squalid, crowded and with poor hygiene. The conditions are more stabilized in the major camps such as Badbaado, Rajo, and Taribunka (where ARC is working). In the latter two, many households are still without shelter, water, sanitation and food.  Many of the smaller settlements are without shelter and are not benefiting from regular food and water distributions. There is a huge gap between the resources available and the needs prevailing on the ground.”

The dinners will be held at Solay Bistro on December 7th and 14th at 7pm. Tickets are available online and are priced at $35 per person. There will be plenty of dishes for vegetarians.

The buffet style dinner will (almost certainly) include the following:

– Slow-cooked Somali rotisserie chicken
– Roasted goat
– Sabaya bread (think chapati, but better!), and injera bread (a spongy Ethiopian bread, eaten with a special spicy injera sauce)
– Beef suqaar (similar to a mild chicken curry)
– Solay’s special cardamom rice
– A selection of vegetable dishes including curried chickpeas, lentils, and cabbage
– Fata Muus (a sweet mix of sabaya, honey, butter, and bananas)
– Somali Chai

We look forward to seeing you there, and look forward to sharing some of the best of Somali food in Columbus with you while supporting a great and urgent cause.


To learn more about Solay Bistro, see here (alt.eats), here (Columbus Alive review), or here (Urbanspoon reviews). Believe them, it’s that good!


Horn of Africa Benefit Dinner at Solay Bistro

best somali restaurant ohioWe’ve come to feel a strong sense of admiration for the large (as in second largest concentration in the US) Somali community in Columbus. Through our experiences with the always-smiling owners and patrons of Somali restaurants, as well as our discussions with documentary filmmaker Abdi Roble and friends, we’ve been amazed by the energy, good cheer, and entrepreneurial spirit found within.

Unfortunately, the extended families of many of these people are hurting. Due to the famine in the Horn of Africa, a staggering number of Somalis and people in bordering countries are unable to access even the most basic of food staples. Starvation is rampant.

During one of our Alt.Eats tours, we made an offhand comment to Solay Bistro’s owner, Nadira, about the desire to help. Vague plans about a benefit dinner were discussed. Later that evening, Nadira called us and excitedly told us she had discussed our idea with others in the community and received nothing but positive feedback. In fact, she had received commitments to purchase 40 tickets for the dinner. So, it’s ON!

best somali restaurant columbus ohio

Here are the particulars: We’re helping Nadira to now promote two fundraiser dinners, one on Sept. 7th, and the other on Sept. 14th. They’ll both be held at Solay Bistro, with a maximum of 80 people on each night. They’ll be buffet dinners featuring some of the best of Somali cuisine and some menu items new to Solay. Nadira will sell half of the tickets to the Somali community for each night, and we’ll be selling the other half to the city at large.

Tickets are $35/person, with proceeds going to the American Refugee Committee (one of the most highly regarded non-profits working in the Horn of Africa region). If you’d like to join us (and really, why wouldn’t you?) you can purchase tickets through Brown Paper Tickets.

We look forward to seeing you there, and look forwards to sharing some of the best of Somali food in Columbus with you while supporting a great and urgent cause.


To learn more about Solay Bistro, see here (alt.eats), here (Columbus Alive review), or here (Urbanspoon reviews). Believe ’em, it’s that good!