BEST STRIP MALL FOR HOMESICK SOMALIS - 2005
5050 East McDowell Road
According to the Somali Association of Arizona, there are more than 5,000 Somalis living in Arizona. The majority of them have moved to Phoenix in the past five years, and the Somali presence is especially noticeable along McDowell Road in east Phoenix. Indeed, the unnamed strip mall located at the northwest corner of 51st Street and McDowell should be dubbed "Little Mogadishu," or "Little Somalia," or, perhaps more romantically, "The Horn of Africa," as it is quickly filling up with Somali businesses and seems to be something of a Somali social center. There's the brand-new Juba Restaurant, a somewhat higher-end cousin to the bare-bones African Cafeteria; a Somali dress shop; and the Café Internationale, where off-work Somali men watch soccer on a big-screen TV. There's still a Subway sandwich shop present, a bar called the Rework Lounge, and a massage parlor curiously named "Friction Massage." But the Somali influence seems to be on the increase, at least in this little corner of town, and we can think of nothing cooler for the PHX.