Central Deli and Coffee, 1831 Central Avenue NE


According to my tightly structured plan, today’s lunch site is Kim’s Vietnamese. Pulling up in front, I observe tightly shut blinds. Posted in the window is a handwritten sign informing the world that due to retirement, Kim’s is now closed. I would swear it was open just last week…alas.

Next in line up the street is Central Deli and Coffee, a non-descriptively named East African eatery of unassuming appearance. Upon arrival the only person visible is a red-vested man sitting in a booth. I later learn he is one of the owners. After perusing the menu, being a non-meat eater, I need help figuring out which items are suited to a vegetarian who eats fish but not seafood. The red-vested man suggests fish and rice, so I order fish and rice.

After taking a seat in a booth by the front window, I observe a man coming in, dressed in sports jacket, jeans, and an orchid color dress shirt. He spots the writer and does a double take. Perhaps not too many slightly past-middle-age women of Scandinavian ancestry eat here? As the gentleman eats his food, he carries on a conversation with his phone on full-volume speaker, which bothers me not at all. Thereafter, several other customers enter, still leaving me as the only woman, and only person of non-East African descent—and I feel perfectly at home. As to the furnishings and décor, there are a total five booths and two tables covered with a pleasant dark-red printed fabric, which nicely coordinate with the booth upholstery and the wall color.

Fish and Rice

In just the right amount of time for me to check out the place and begin writing, delivered to the booth is a heaping plate of lightly coated white fish cooked to a nice crunch, on a bed of saffron rice with raisins and tiny vegetable bits, topped with mild onions sautéd in a spice that had turned them a pale orange. Iceberg lettuce and a container of SPICY avocado green-colored dressing accompany the main course. After a bite of incautiously dressed salad, followed by many sips of water, I discover that a tiny dab of the dressing is great on the fish. The meal comes accompanied by a whole banana, which I find charming. All in all, the food is delicious. I would return, and I would again order the fish and rice.

(On my way home I stop at Aki’s Bread Hus for a post-lunch treat, selecting two cookies—a snickerdoodle and an oatmeal raisin. They are dangerously yummy.)

More to come next week from Maya Cuisine!


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