Located above a barber who also has his sign in Arabic, Yemen Café & Restaurant has been a mainstay on Atlantic Avenue for quite some time. If it were not for the tables and chairs everywhere, it would seem more like a travel agency, with pictures and posters showing off the Islamic republic and all of its sights.
A group of six hungry men (that would later become eight) was feasting on bread and salta as we walked in, exactly the dish I had returned here for. Yemen's national dish is a slightly spicy meat-based stew that is spiced with fenugreek and served still boiling in a clay pot.
Shortly after we ordered (which consisted of two long waiting periods before and after receiving the menu), we were treated to a lamb soup, on the house. They also provide sweetened Lipton tea for all customers, free of charge. We felt welcomed despite the slow pace.
At lunch, the salta, served with a large bread called malouj, is only $9, but rises to $17 at dinner. The mixture was still boiling three or four minutes after arriving at our table, and neither of us had any trouble heeding the waiter's warning that it was indeed hot. Once we were able to mix it, we found the all the delicious ground meat, vegetables, and one lone piece of okra all waiting to be scooped up with bread.
Our other selection was the loubia ($10), tender lamb pieces, some still on the bone, with a red tomato sauce that was subtley sour. The okra definitely stole the show of this dish, and outperformed the other vegetables and potatoes it sat next to.
In general, all the same dishes were almost twice the price on the dinner menu, so we decided that lunch was definitely the time to get a meal here. I look forward to returning to try some of the fish and chicken dishes that look interesting.