MANCHESTER, NH – Maya’s Kitchen officially opened for business June 13, reimagining the prime space at 790 Elm Street recently vacated by Queen City Cupcakes.
Operated by Maya Gumaa, the concept is simple: Serve up delicious entrees and side dishes to-go featuring the comforting flavors and bold spices found in traditional African and Caribbean cuisines.
I popped in for late-lunch/early dinner on Tuesday – also to get the scoop, and was greeted by Gumaa’s daughter Alana Stephen, who was in the process of training Jasmine Ridley on the cash register.
Both Alana and Jasmine will be seniors at Central High School in the fall, but the dinner shift is perfect for them – and they know the menu inside and out. I ordered the baked chicken with collard greens and spicy rice with no regrets.
Alana told me that everything is packed to go but that I was welcome to pull up a chair and eat in, which I did. I cleaned my take-out container right down to the bones, which included a tender and juicy chicken thigh and leg (I pulled the meat off and mixed it with the savory rice) and a large helping of greens sauteed with carrots, tomatoes, full of flavor.
Future plans for Maya’s Kitchen include utilizing the indoor bar and outdoor seating, but for now, they are keeping it simple just like the menu – eight entrees including the popular oxtail stew, jerk chicken and BBQ ribs.
According to Alana, her mother previously operated Gumaa’s Bar & Grill near the Price Rite plaza on Lincoln Street, but that was more of a family business and her mom was ready to do something that was “more her.”
“Now she can control the menu and do things her way,” Alana said.
Plus being on Elm Street is a much better high-profile location.
“We were out of the way over there and I don’t think a lot of people knew about us,” Alana said.
Maya Gumaa came to Manchester 20 years ago as a Sudanese refugee. and is now fulfilling a dream of bringing more African and Caribbean flavors to the city’s thriving restaurant scene.
Hours are Tuesday – Sunday from noon to 9 p.m. Call ahead 603-935-7809 or just stop in – my food order was ready in less than five minutes. You can follow Maya’s Kitchen on Instagram at @mayaskitchenllc – which is also brand new, but watch for posts coming soon!