Mama Meta's Canteen, a brand new Congolese restaurant in Champaign, will have a grand opening this Saturday, March 19th. The Black-owned restaurant will serve African-inspired, American-infused food made with ingredients sourced from Central Illinois farmers.
The menu includes plantains, samosas, beef kabobs, baked wings, kwanga, and peanut stew. The restaurant describes the food as distinctive and bold. For those unfamiliar with Congolese food, here's what the canteen's website says:
Congolese cuisine is sourced from a wide variety of crops including maize, rice, cassava, sweet potatoes, yams, peanuts, plantains, tomatoes, peas, coffee, oils, wild plants, fruits, mushrooms, honey, fish, and spices. A typical Congolese meal often consists of a starchy ingredient alongside a vegetable and meat, mostly in a stew form. You are to use the starch to form a spoon for scooping the flavor-packed bits of meat and veggies. Most of the starches consist of a fermented bread made from the cassava root called Kwanga. Beef, chicken, fish, goat, and occasionally smoked meats, are the primary source of protein. Dishes are often paired with stewed green vegetables like cassava leaves, okra, or sweet potato leaves, just to name a few. What Lauren can admire the most about the cuisine compared to the American diet, dishes are typically low in sugar. Dessert is as simple as a fried dough ball with peanut butter sauce for a sweet and savory treat, or some plantains.
This Saturday, try some Congolese bites from 1 to 4 p.m. at 2302 W John Street in Champaign. Mama Meta's Canteen operates as a ghost kitchen which means that the food is to-go only. Diners can place orders online and select curbside pickup or delivery.
Mama Meta's Canteen also serves food during the week with days and hours updated week-to-week on their Facebook page. In the future, the canteen will launch a catering menu.
Mama Meta's Canteen
2302 W John St
W 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Sa 1 to 4 p.m.
Su 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Top image from Mama Meta's Canteen Facebook page.