Flavors of East Africa to take over location of campus pho restaurant


Michael Cline

Flavors Express is set to open its new location Aug. 16.

by Aretha Matsushima, Staff Writer

Flavors Express, a new addition to the Flavors of East Africa restaurant that serves authentic East African food, has made a permanent home for itself on the east side of campus.

The new restaurant – which has long been a popular food choice for students at San Diego State’s weekly farmers market –  has taken the place of Pho Fifth Avenue Express off College Avenue. This will be the second location for the company.

David Buelna, Flavors Express restaurant manager, said Flavors of East Africa is no stranger to San Diego State. It has catered to campus organizations and actively participates in the farmers market and Aztec basketball games. 

Flavors of East Africa was first opened in 2011 by Kenyan native Alvin “June” Owino. He prepared homemade East African dishes, putting to work the knowledge he gained from cooking during his childhood. He made the decision to open up his restaurant when he realized the lack of East African restaurants in San Diego, according to the Flavors of East Africa website. 

The SDSU location will be set up a little differently from the original location in North Park. Buelna said while the location in North Park offers a variety of items including oxtail, lamb and various meats, Flavors Express will have a more condensed menu due to the nature of this specific restaurant. 

“Flavors of East Africa is more of a sit-down dining experience versus Flavors Express which will be more of a grab-and-go,” Buelna said. “We want to really highlight the express aspect of the restaurant.” 

Buelna also said students who are familiar with the Flavors of East Africa menu at the farmers market should expect to see the same one served at the Flavors Express location. This menu is also featured at other farmers markets in Ocean Beach and Hillcrest. 

“More or less, it’s the same business and is going to include the same menu as the farmers market,” Buelna said. 

He said he expects Flavors Express to bring more diversity to the food choices on campus, since options for East African cuisine are very limited. The food is also unprocessed, home cooked and made fresh.

“We’re bringing East African food and everything is home-cooked, spice-filled with plenty of vegan options,” Buelna said. 

The restaurant menu features various salads, grilled meat or fish, stews and vegetarian options as well, according to the Flavors of East Africa website. 

Buelna said while the restaurant is independent and will not be accepting meal plan, students can still enjoy its food with its convenient proximity to campus. Flavors of East Africa will also continue to participate at the weekly farmers market.

Flavors Express is expected to open Aug. 16.