New ABQ restaurant blends East African, New Mexican flavors

Samosas are among the specialties at The Safari Grill. (Courtesy of Facebook)

Samosas are among the specialties at The Safari Grill. (Courtesy of Facebook)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Bill Young wants to take your taste buds on an adventure.

A co-owner of The Safari Grill, Young said the new West Side Albuquerque restaurant specializes in “exotic and local cuisine.” The menu is based on the food from Young’s native Tanzania, though The Safari Grill gives many of the East African dishes a little New Mexico kick.

“It’s a new taste; it’s a new flavor, and we want to share it with the world,” Young said.

For example, The Safari Grill offers a samosa — a triangular, stuffed pastry — with beef, potatoes and green chile.

The restaurant’s Mishkaki skewers — built around marinated-and-grilled chicken or beef — can be dipped in a variety of scratch-made sauces that include red and green chile versions as well as a tamarind chutney.

Young said the owners have wanted to open an Albuquerque restaurant since 2009, but when initial plans fell through, they settled on a food truck. The truck — originally called NY’s Grill and then later Safari Street Grill — worked the circuit for about four years, building a fan base at local breweries. Young said he sold it a year ago to pursue a permanent location.

The Safari Grill has settled into the former café space at 3600 Highway 528, near the Ellison intersection.

It only seats about 30 people in its current format — and that includes the patio — though Young said he plans to expand to about 50 when the restaurant gets its beer and wine license.

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