4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

$10 Lunch: Fatuma (Somali Cuisine)

Yesterday, when I went asking around for lunch ideas, a friend sent me to Fatuma, a Somalian restaurant on University. As is often the case at African restaurants in City Heights during the lunch hour, the place was full of men. Luckily, I’m kind of tough, and so did not die of embarrassment when, first thing, I walked in on one of them in the bathroom. Instead, I steeled myself, returned to the counter, and stood looking at the menu, as if I were perfectly at ease and did not have the impulse to flee the establishment.

None

I skimmed past the pizzas and hummus plates and went straight for the lamb plate with spaghetti. I know the spaghetti sounds out of place, but from what I understand, it’s as common as rice in Somali cuisine.

The meal came with salad, a drink, and a banana, for a total of $10.76.

The man behind the counter’s name was Said. When I asked if he had a table near an outlet so I could charge my phone, he led me around the corner to the empty half of the dining room.

There, I ate my spaghetti and humongous chunks of meat. Although I would have managed in the main dining room, this separation from the men was preferable to me. I probably would have chosen to sit at the one table outside had I not needed the outlet.

Inside, could still hear their voices and the unfamiliar cadences of their Somali language, which gave me the feeling of having left San Diego and landed somewhere else.

The fact that these “elsewhere” experiences are so easy to come by in City Heights makes it one of my favorite neighborhoods in San Diego.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Nirwana Indian Gastrobar showcases tacos, sliders, and pizza

Mira Mesa gastropub consolidates around chicken curries, vegetarian options, and fusion

Yesterday, when I went asking around for lunch ideas, a friend sent me to Fatuma, a Somalian restaurant on University. As is often the case at African restaurants in City Heights during the lunch hour, the place was full of men. Luckily, I’m kind of tough, and so did not die of embarrassment when, first thing, I walked in on one of them in the bathroom. Instead, I steeled myself, returned to the counter, and stood looking at the menu, as if I were perfectly at ease and did not have the impulse to flee the establishment.

None

I skimmed past the pizzas and hummus plates and went straight for the lamb plate with spaghetti. I know the spaghetti sounds out of place, but from what I understand, it’s as common as rice in Somali cuisine.

The meal came with salad, a drink, and a banana, for a total of $10.76.

The man behind the counter’s name was Said. When I asked if he had a table near an outlet so I could charge my phone, he led me around the corner to the empty half of the dining room.

There, I ate my spaghetti and humongous chunks of meat. Although I would have managed in the main dining room, this separation from the men was preferable to me. I probably would have chosen to sit at the one table outside had I not needed the outlet.

Inside, could still hear their voices and the unfamiliar cadences of their Somali language, which gave me the feeling of having left San Diego and landed somewhere else.

The fact that these “elsewhere” experiences are so easy to come by in City Heights makes it one of my favorite neighborhoods in San Diego.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

The meal came with a banana?!?

March 29, 2012

That's what I said the first time I had Somalian food. A friend of mine told me a meal at a Somalian restaurant isn't complete without the banana. Go figure.

March 30, 2012
Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town The Gonzo Report — Making the musical scene, or at least reporting from it Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Theater — On stage in San Diego this week Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close