Attentive diners will notice a few things missing from Taste of Africa’s meals—wheat, barley, and rye. The naturally gluten-free entrees also eschew dairy products, relying instead on tomato sauce or egg to thicken their sauces and stews. One such specialty stew, red red, blends fried plantains and baked beans; another mild option, pili-pili, combines cabbage, meat, and red beans to create an African-style chili. Traditional African spices ignite other meals, from plates of grilled goat to tilapia fillets. Not to be outdone, vegetarian dishes such as saffron or coconut rice soak up swells of the eatery’s signature sauces, which are flavored with unsweetened peanut butter or egusi spice. Diners can also take home glass jars of these sauces to share with whatever friends they have left after the glue stick incident.
In addition to the authentically prepared cuisine on the menu, Taste of Africa sells gifts handmade by African artisans. Every $15 spent on the collection of clothing, jewelry, and raw shea butter provides a meal for a child in a Congolese or Senegalese orphanage.
If the walls of The Port Hotel could talk, they'd tell a tale dating back to 1902. In that year, John F. Thill tore down an existing hotel and tavern and constructed a brand-new one comprised of 40 guest rooms, which is four times the number you’ll find today. Thill installed electric lighting and warmed the rooms with steam heat—both luxurious features in those days. The hotel closed down in 1973, but the restaurant maintained a lively business.
The summer of 2005 saw the grand reopening of The Port Hotel, restored to its original state of elegance with 10 uniquely appointed guest rooms and chef-prepared breakfasts served in bed. Joseph Zankl and his family now operate this historic property, preserving its turn-of-the century charm while introducing modern amenities such as wireless Internet and plasma picture boxes.
Amid a friendly, welcoming atmosphere, Beanies doles out daily made chips and fresh salsa while serving dishes from a menu replete with contemporary Mexican cuisine. Choose from an array of aperitivos, tostadas, ensaladas, soups, tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and fajitas; the restaurant is known for its Mexican chili, which it claims was voted #1 in the "Hot in the Harbor" chili cook-off. Choose a bowl of the spicy, chickeny goodness ($4.95) or debate about what made the dinosaurs extinct with a selection from the cantina. Adventurous patrons or monkeys who miss the gentle rocking of a palm tree in the wind can take a booze cruise on Beanies' big tree-swing while sipping a margarita, cerveza, or seltzer water.