SHE Royal food truck brings a taste of Ethiopia to 1st Ave

"You have never tasted food like this," says Samson Benti, co-owner of the new SHE Royal Deli food truck on First Avenue and North Eighth Street. "We recommend that everyone taste it at least once."

Benti's Ethiopian cooking uses spices imported from Ethiopia and veggies purchased at local farmers' markets.

Steak burgers, samosas and veggie plates cost $3 - $6.
Steak burgers, samosas and veggie plates cost $3 - $6.
Michelle Bruch

Benti grew up with his grandmother in East Africa, and he models his cooking after hers: Ingredient amounts need not be measured. If he decides a dish is too spicy, he'll simply cook it a little longer to kill the spice.

The deli is an offshoot of SHE Royal Coffee, a shop at 2010 E. Hennepin Ave. that roasts Ethiopian coffee fresh every week.

Benti attributes his decision to open a street cart to the influence of his "crazy friends." Namely, the owners of the Chef Shack, another street cart now open at Fifth and Hennepin.

"They have the best Ethiopian veggies in town," says chef Lisa Carlson. "I said, 'Sammy, you've got to get a place. If anything, get it for me!'"

SHE Royal Deli Co-owner Samson Benti talks with Chef Shack Owner Lisa Carlson.
SHE Royal Deli Co-owner Samson Benti talks with Chef Shack Owner Lisa Carlson.
Michelle Bruch

Benti says his food offers an "affordable price with a completely different taste."

Prices range from just $3 to $6. The menu includes a gyro with hummus and cucumber sauce, chicken with basmati rice, and a steak burger that's made with grass-fed beef that is "not too spicy, and not boring either," according to Benti. Samosas feature a crispy pastry filled with ground beef or veggies and seasoned with onions and light spices. The veggie sampler includes lentils, split peas, and collard greens.

Benti promises that the food is very healthy and cooked in just a dash of olive oil.

"You will not gain an ounce," he says.

The food truck is across the street from the First Avenue nightclub, and you'll find it catching Twins traffic and lunch traffic Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. - 2 p.m.

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