Samira's Restaurant is quite possibly the best restaurant in Bloomington. I like it so much that I chose it for my birthday dinner this year. Even though it was my dad's birthday restaurant just a month before. It's that good! Samira is an Afghani restaurant, which might intimidate some Bloomington residents. I don't know how authentic the food is because, obviously, I've never been to Afghanistan and eaten real Afghani food. The thing about the food at Samira is that it's so well seasoned. The spices they use are exotic enough to be interesting, but never overwhelming. The restaurant is semi-fancy, tablecloths and waiters in ties and dress shirts. Dinner prices are $10-$20. If you live in Bloomington go eat at Samira, it's not scary, and you definitely won't regret it.
Every meal starts out with a small plate of carrots and grilled eggplant. The veggies are marinated in some combination of olive oil, garlic, vinegar and spices and they are so tasty. Seriously, I could just eat a whole plate of them and be happy. Bread is also complimentary and is particularly delicious when used to sop up what's left of the eggplant marinade.
As for real appetizers, I've tried the hummus and the Namounaa. The hummus is good, very garlicky, and is served with a little salad of carrots, onions, etc to put on top. The Namounaa is a sampler of four different vegetable dishes and is great if you don't want to commit to a whole entree of one veggie. It includes Kadu (baked butternut squash), Sabzi (seasoned spinach), Badenjan (spiced eggplant) and Shalgham (baked turnip). My favorites are the eggplant and turnip. Entrees are served with a choice of lentil soup or salad. I recommend the soup. The salad is pretty basic, just some romaine lettuce and a tomato with a balsamic vinaigrette.
I have never disliked an entree I've ordered at Samira. There are tons of vegetarian options and some really delicious meat and fish dishes. My default order is the Cornish Hen Kabob. It's moist and flavorful, with perfectly crisp skin. My dad always orders the Combination Pasta, which is two different kinds of dumplings, manto and aushak (check out the restaurant's website for descriptions). They have both meat and vegetarian versions. My mom likes the Kurma Tchallao, which is chicken in a tomato onion sauce over rice. The Badenjan entree is also delicious, but is more eggplant than I can eat in one sitting. There are also weekly specials, last time we ate they had rack of lamb and flounder. I had the flounder. It was fantastic, the fish was tender and perfectly seasoned. Most entrees are served with a seasoned brown or basmati rice and carrots and raisins. It's so simple, but somehow the carrots and raisins make all the difference, adding flavors and textures that really enhance every dish.
100 W 6th St # 1
Bloomington, IN 47404