Safari Restaurant, Columbia Pike, Baileys Crossroads, next to the Acura dealer, at approximately 5831 Columbia Pike, Falls Church, VA, across Columbia Pike from the strip mall with Full Kee and Best Buy. 703-820-1008 [Somalian cuisine on Wikipedia]
photo credit: Alfred Weidinger
I didn’t write down the phone number or exact address because I thought I could Google to them but so far nothing is online, even though the restaurant has been open for seven months, since mid-2011. Was it a dream? All that broken glass on the doorstep? The rolled-up carpet obstructing the entrance way? The ramshackle decor? The apparent surprise from the staff that a customer might show up and request some food?
I enjoyed my visit. The menu had I think four items, none of which were so clearly explained, although there were deeper descriptions in Somali. I asked them to bring me the two best items. I received a fried chicken steak, some plain beef bits which are good if you apply the spicy green sauce, a delicious rice, and decent spaghetti noodles. It came with a free lemonade. Then they brought some Somalian empanadas (pretty good), a few empty doughy things (decent), and two plain unpeeled bananas, all in rapid succession. There was talk of goat in the future. All for $25.
You can pick nits with the food, but I’ll go back, it’s been my most unique eating experience in some time.
Update: charleybicycle sent this comment on 2/11/12:
I went to Safari tonight, Saturday, with some friends. There were about 15 taxis parked in the lot which we took for a good sign. There was an OPEN sign on the entrance door but it was locked. A man came and opened the door. A large carpet was lumped folded over in a pile in the entrance way. A pair of boots was left unattended right in the center of the walkway as you enter the dining room. The man who let us in explained that they had just had an event, but it was now over and we were welcome. We sat down at a table and noted the decor which included some factory-produced banners saying something like “Enjoy the Celebration!” There were about 15 people in the large brightly lit room, all were standing and amicably talking in the back of the room. No one was eating and no food nor beverage was in sight. A congenial man approached us smiling, shook our hands and introduced himself as Paul, if memory serves me. He politely explained to us that the restaurant had been rented for the evening and he was unable to serve us. He invited us to return soon and said we would love the food. He especially praised the rice, and noted that visitors from as far away as Canada had said it is the best. He said he only recently took over the restaurant from another man and was still printing the menus and creating a website. He explained he was concentrating on making the food the best it could be. He did provide a phone number which he said had been activated only the day before: 703-820-1008. He shook our hands again as we said goodbye. As we left we noticed the carpet pile had been moved aside and was no longer in the center of the entanceway.