I was glad I came upon Al Huda, a new neighborhood treasure! I recently moved from New York where I had the luxury of great Middle Eastern food everywhere. I was delighted to find a place like this in Portland where a variety of healthy Middle Eastern specialities -- including vegetarian and gluten free options -- can be enjoyed.
We were welcomed with a pleasantly sweet traditional tea with cardomon as well as luscious appetizers, including a generous serving of toasty falafel and rich hummus.
Before tonight, I had never tried Somali food. After tonight, having experienced their fish biryani with a tasty side salad, I'm now sold! Next time I'll also try the lamb or goat biryani.... Other Somali specials include maraq, pronounced MAH-ruhk, a Somali stew rich in vegetables, that's served with anjera -- similar to the bread served in Ethiopian and Eritiean restaurants.
Al Huda also has great shawarma sandwiches -- I presume, by how quickly I saw my husband's disappear -- and another specialty rarely found in Maine, Iraqui lamb kabab...another favorite of mine.
Dessert offerings include baklava, cake, and sweet rice pudding with a topping of berries.
Service was prompt and friendly. The owner, Saadia and her family were all there and a pleasure to meet. We went with our toddler son, who was recieved warmly. Three of us dined for just over $20 and had a delicious meal. We'll certainly go back.
Note: Al Huda is a Muslim restaurant and doesn't serve alcohol, but has great fruit juices, soft drinks, and the cardomom tea I now crave...!