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The Edge of Africa Arrives in New Mexico

By Elisha Neubauer

What was once started as a food truck enterprise in 2013 has grown into its very own brick and mortar establishment in just two short years. The Karibu Café, became an official dine-in restaurant in 2015, giving the folks of Rio Rancho, New Mexico yet another way to experience the wild wander that is East African cuisine.

Earning its name from the Swahili word for 'welcome,' the Karibu Café strives to make you feel just that. "The restaurant is decorated with traditional paintings, signs and cloths from Tanzania, says Lemmy Mamuya, Chef and Owner of Karibu Café. "Each item was chosen specifically with the restaurant atmosphere in mind." As you enter, there is a picture of Kilimanjaro on the back wall. Lining the walls are pictures of Bob Marley and an island scene with a boat, and soft cloths cover the lights, giving the room a cozy feeling. "African music plays in the background as you eat as well?to add to the ambiance/atmosphere," states Mamuya.

When asked to select one word to describe the menu offered at Karibu, Mamuya simply uttered the word, 'Flavorful.' "The food included on the menu is diverse and fresh," he said. "The geographical origin of the food prepared at Karibu Café is the coast of East Africa, which has a combination of Indian, Arabic, Mediterranean and Caribbean cuisine." His choice of word couldn't be more fitting.

The menu includes appetizers like fried plantains (sweet banana for those who haven't tried them) to fresh-made hummus with a kick, and different types of samosas. Both spicy and not-so-spicy (if served as-is) entrees line the pages of the menu, giving a wide variety of options to suit everyone. "If someone has never tried the food before, I would say that the only way to know for sure how much you'll LOVE it is to stop by to try it," exclaims Mamuya. "Newcomers often start with something like the Chicken Curry and Plantains, and keep coming back to try different dishes!"

The eclectic eatery is dedicated to providing delicious food utilizing only the most authentic ingredients available. "We are devoted to being one of the best lunch and dinner places in town," exclaims Mamuya. When it comes to understanding authentic ingredients and menu selections, nobody can top the experience Mamuya has behind him. Born at the foothills of the tallest mountain in Africa (Kilimanjaro) he spent his childhood growing up on the coast of the Indian Ocean.

This upbringing exposed him to a multitude of cultures and cuisine from an early stage of his life, which later translated into his cooking methods and concepts. "Cooking was a skill gleaned from various family members, and honed through exposure to different types of food," he explained. "Because of that, Karibu Cafe's dishes range from sandwiches, to wraps, to various Curry Sauces (+ Coconut Basmati rice), to Vegetarian options such as Lentil Stew."

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About The Author

Elisha Neubauer is a freelance editor, ghostwriter, book reviewer, and author. She is...

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