We’d be lying if we said one of our top priorities of visiting Somaliland wasn’t to check out the food. Camel meat here we come!
Breakfast: Cup of Art Italian Coffee
We ventured out to the Cup of Art Italian Coffee shop to check out the Somaliland Diaspora scene. It’s about a 10-minute cab ride from the city center ($4 USD). We enjoyed the ‘Billie Jean’ smoothie: avocado, cream and cardamom. The coffee was nothing to write home about, but we had a blast speaking in Amharic with the very surprised wait staff.
Open daily from 7:30am to 1pm and 4pm to 11pm.
Lunch: Warsame Restaurant This was by far our favorite meal in Somaliland. So much so, we went back for lunch the next day. Unfortunately, we passed up a couple of other great looking spots as our female travel partner was required to eat behind a curtain with the rest of the women. Warsame had a separate, but nice room for women diners and allowed Xavi to eat with Eliza. Woohoo! The roast goat here is the bomb, and the roast chicken was pretty good as well. The goat meat was caramelized, fall-off-the-bone spectacular. And, the marrow was to die for. It was probably the best preparation of goat we’ve ever had. The chicken leg was crispy, a bit dry but full of flavor. The accompanying rice was perfect. The restaurant is located right next to one of the bigger khat markets in town, so it’s a happening place. This is definitely a middle class restaurant with a meal for two ranging from $6 – $10. They even give you a pack of chewing gum at the end of the meal when you spend over a certain amount! They also had great fresh guava juice.
Afternoon: Tea Shops
When in Somaliland, it is essential to drink Somali tea in a fun outdoor spot. Use your best instincts and follow the crowds. Find somewhere that has a fun view and sit among groups of men and drink Somali tea: black tea with delicious fresh camel milk and loaded with sugar. People will inevitably ask questions like what country are you from, are you a journalist (seemed to be every persons belief about why we were there) and most importantly what do you think of Somaliland.
Dinner: Cadaani Cafeteria
Dinner was rotisserie chicken at walk-up counter from Cadaani Cafeteria enjoyed on the packed patio. The chicken came with fries and an excellent spicy sauce.
Dinner: Cadaani Cafeteria
Special note: the avocado and mango juice at our hotel restaurant, City Center, is worth the trip alone.
And for those of you who live in a nearby landlocked country, we recommend bringing home a frozen tuna. The City Center Hotel in Hargeisa helped us sort this out.
Check out this awesome (but dated) blog about the food entrepreneurs in Hargeisa.
We spent our first night at the Mansoor Hotel. Dinner was disappointing, and we wouldn’t recommend the hotel for its food, but as it’s the only hotel on the beach, we had no other choice. Breakfast ful was pretty good and we enjoyed it on plastic tables overlooking the beach.
Lunch: Al Xayaat (or Al Hayaat)
We loved Al Xayaat Restaurant and Fish House. This restaurant is full of happy patrons eating fish and badass Somalilander cats waiting for scraps. Wooden tables sit in a row underneath a tarp to protect you from the sun. The restaurant sits right on the beach, but is separated by a fence and netting.
We arrived late in the afternoon (after a failed scuba diving attempt) and the restaurant was out of fish. So the owner, an unbelievably friendly man who speaks great English, sent us down the street to the fish market. We bought two beautiful fresh tuna for a sum of $20 USD and brought them back to Al Xayaat to be cooked.
One was prepared ‘grilled’ the other rubbed with their house spice and fried. To our surprise we by far preferred the fried version (keep in mind though that the fish was quite cooked.) Our favorite part of the meal was the house spice, a mix of ground red chilies, coriander and salt. We tried our hardest to convince the owner to let us buy some to bring home, but sometimes the best things aren’t for sale.
Their normal dish is fried white fish served with a side of spaghetti.
Street-side tea shops:
This is a must. Find a popular looking tea stand and sit yourself between locals. Order ‘Somali tea’ – black tea spiced with cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and cloves, mixed with camel milk and a ton of sugar. A tea is 1,000 Somaliland shillings (about $0.15).