Lobster rolls and blueberry pie are probably top of mind when you think about food from Maine, but for a relatively small and fairly homogeneous state, there are some pretty excellent and diverse food options in downtown Portland including Asmara, an Eritrean restaurant that Lawman and I had a chance to check out a couple of weeks ago for my birthday dinner...
After checking out some Yelp recommendations we ordered the Zegenie Beghie or Fiery Lamb Stew and the Shiro--roasted, ground chickpeas and red pepper cooked with fresh garlic and "earthy spices." The entrees were served family style on either a plate of injera with salad & either red lentil stew in a red pepper sauce, cabbage carrots and potatoes in a mild yellow sauce or collard greens and kale in a mild yellow sauce. Lawman and I decided to get the red lentil stew and the collard greens.
The lentil stew was tasty though not quite as spicy as our go to lentil stew, Misir Wett from Brooklyn's own Ethiopian restaurant, Ghenet. The collard greens were excellent and the Shiro was . My favorite dish of the evening was the lamb stew. The lamb was super tender and it had a great spicy finish while the injera was probably the lightest and fluffiest injera I've ever had, not to mention the mildest. When they first brought us our platter, I was convinced that we'd still be hungry, but it more than filling and for under $30 including tax and tip, it's hard to do much better. We'll definitely be making a return visit!
Asmara Restaurant 51 Oak Street Portland, ME 04101-3921 (207) 253-5122