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Im Herzen Afrikas brings food from the heart of East Africa to Frankfurt and Mainz

By DAN STOUTAMIRE | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 25, 2017

Delicious flatbread and sumptuous stews take center stage at a pair of authentic East African restaurants in the Frankfurt, Germany, area.

Im Herzen Afrikas, which means “in the heart of Africa,” offers its guests family-style or individual plates featuring traditional Eritrean cuisine in a themed space — complete with drawings of African wildlife on the walls and imported wooden tables and chairs.

The concept has been a successful one, and the locations in both Frankfurt and Mainz are typically packed, particularly on the weekend. Reservations are strongly recommended.

When I visited the Frankfurt Im Herzen Afrikas, I was unsure of what to expect, as I’d never had Eritrean food, let alone the similar, better-known Ethiopian variety. The atmosphere was the first thing that struck me. The decor makes it easy to forget you’re in Germany, and it set the perfect tone for the food, which was uniformly delicious.

The star of the show is the house specialty, a communal-style mix of meat and vegetarian dishes with injera, a spongy, sourdough flatbread. Guests can choose up to five stew-like dishes from 11 offerings. These include zigni begie (sliced beef in hot sauce), dorho (chicken in tomato sauce) or hamli (spinach, tomatoes and onions).

If you prefer, you can stick to just one of the stews, or go lighter with an appetizer of hummus and thin North African-style flatbread (warmer and crisper than the injera).

The available desserts are also on the lighter side: sweet yogurt on couscous with raisins, or banana and fresh African banana cream.

Most dishes can be eaten without the help of cutlery. That job is handled by the injera, which is used to scoop up the main dishes and sauces alike. It took a bit of getting used to, but after a few minutes the concept made sense. The injera was incredibly good and plentiful — the servings at Im Herzen Afrikas are substantial — but it didn’t sit heavily in the stomach.

If you’re looking to explore something other than the usual German, American or Italian fare, Im Herzen Afrikas is a good bet.

stoutamire.dan@stripes.com

 

 

Im Herzen Afrikas

Address: Gaustrasse 38, Mainz, Germany 55116, and Gutleutstrasse 13, Frankfurt, Germany 60329

Hours: 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturdays, 4-10 p.m. Sundays. Closed Mondays.

Prices: The house specialty is 12.50 euros ($13.33) per person, meat plates are 9 euros and vegetarian dishes are 8.50-10 euros.

Reservations: Highly recommended.

Attire: Casual

Menu: German only

Information: Website: www.im-herzen-afrikas.de; phone: (+49) (0) 6131-635-6425 (Mainz); (+49) (0) 69 2424-6080 (Frankfurt); email: info@ im-herzen-afrikas.de

The house specialty at Im Herzen Afrikas, meant to be eaten communally, features four stews, two sauces, a salad and plenty of ''injera,'' an Eritrean flatbread. The injera also serves as silverware and is meant to be used to scoop up the stews and sauces.
DAN STOUTAMIRE/STARS AND STRIPES

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