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Food & Drink

Could I Eat This Afro Deli Sandwich Every Day for the Rest of My Life?

It's packed with flavor, it's only $8.99... the Somali steak sandwich makes a heck of a case for itself.

Em Cassel|

Hello, gorgeous.

At Racket, we take our sandwiches very seriously.

So in early November, when I saw this tweet...

I knew it wouldn't be more than a few weeks until I tried the Somali steak sandwich—and, in all likelihood, turned the experience into content for this here website.

You know Afro Deli: The fast-casual African/Mediterranean/American restaurant that's grown to four locations throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul. It was one of the new vendors at the Minnesota State Fair this year; founder and owner Abdirahman Kahin was recently recognized as National Small Business Owner of the Year.

This sandwich, though, was new to me, so I reached out to Basgen to learn a little more.

"If you like Philly cheesesteaks but the cheese is spicy and green stuff then you are gonna have a good time," he explained. This spoke to me, as someone who loves Philly cheesesteaks and spicy green stuff. "The shortest possible summation of my feelings: Lord, what a sandwich."

With that glowing recommendation in mind, I tracked down my first Somali steak sandwich earlier this week.

The menu sells the Somali steak simply enough: "thin-sliced beef sautéed with African spices, mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, and mayo on focaccia bread." It makes no mention of the spicy green stuff, though you'll definitely notice it slathered on there. And it is... divine.

This is the kind of sandwich you'll love at first bite. The bread, which is more of a sandwich roll than focaccia (not that I'm complaining), is squishy and sweet, and soaks up the flavor from the meat and peppers. It gives easily without falling apart; they've griddled both sides for texture and structural integrity, somehow not sacrificing any of its softness in the process.

Cheese oozes between bites of the steak, which is thin but substantial, toothsome but tender. There's a good amount of steak on here but not so much that you feel overwhelmed, and tomato and snappy green peppers keep it feeling lighter than your standard steak sandwich.

Then there's that green sauce, a beautiful mystery. It's peppery, just slightly spicy, a little garlicky. It provides a pleasant heat that builds and builds, and lingers on the palate, but not too much—there's also something fresh and bright happening in there. Lemon, I think, and... parsley? My best guess is that this is Afro Deli's take on chermoula, which is like a North African chimichurri, though nowhere on the menu do they advertise such a sauce. They should consider bottling that stuff.

Basgen had warned me that the typo in his tweet was "literally cause I was typing with greased sandwich fingers," and I can confirm that the keys on my laptop were shiny enough to require a wipe-down after lunch. It's a sacrifice I was happy to make, and will almost certainly make again. Because did I mention that it's only $8.99?? An absolutely screaming deal for a sandwich this substantial and flavorful.

So, could I eat the Somali steak sandwich every day for the rest of my life? Well, I could certainly afford it... talk to me in a week.

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