22 Sep 5 of the Best Ethiopian Restaurants in the U.S
By Ashleigh Fields
The prismatic, polychromatic, and increasingly popular staples of Ethiopian cuisine are deeply rooted in a communal culinary tradition. And it all starts with injera.
Made from teff, the world’s smallest grain, injera is a simple, spongy flatbread that serves as the melting pot for the cuisine’s mouthwatering stews and medley of spices. It’s as if all the flavors of Ethiopia are welcome inside a warm piece of injera. It’s representative of the core spirit and philosophy of Ethiopian cooking — that all are welcome to, and have a place at, the table.
A communal dining experience
Serving many from a single platter, friends, families, and communities come together to share the array of meats, stews, and vegetables that are carefully spread out on a slab of injera. Using their hands, each person tears a piece off from the edges, scooping up whatever stew or piece of meat is nearby. Could be Doro Wot, with its spiced butter and savory thickness. Or Misir Wot, with its tender, earthy lentils. Or, ahhhh, Sega Wot, with its rich, saucy pieces of beef.
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Not only is this an act of community — eating from the same plate — it can be an act of intimacy too, going as deep as eating from another’s hand.
“Gursha is an Amharic word that means ‘mouthful,’ and it also means a bonus, a tip, or even a bribe,” one writer explains. “When you perform gursha at a meal, you take a morsel of food — often a very large one — wrapped in injera and place it into the mouth of someone else at the table. Then, the person you’ve just honored with a gursha returns the favor. The elderly, or the guests at someone’s home, will often receive the first gursha to show them respect.”
Where to get the best Ethiopian food
Both the communal dining traditions and the food that accompanies them have flourished in pockets throughout the U.S. Check out our list below of some of the best Ethiopian restaurants in the country. Take a loved one, or several loved ones. There’s enough injera for everybody.
Addis NOLA – New Orleans, LA
Addis Restaurant in New Orleans, LA is shaking the status quo with an innovative introduction to Ethiopian culture and cuisine. In addition to hosting cultural seminars on Wednesday’s from 6-8 pm, the restaurant has teamed up with restaurants like Beaucoup Eats and Turkey & Wolf for collaborations. They also host Vegan Monday’s, where mushroom ribs and sweet potato wot are served to enhance what some may consider a bland herbivorous lifestyle. The team imports items from Addis Market, shipped directly from Ethiopia. This keeps their products and space as authentic as possible. It also provides them with ingredients for their “Spiritual Coffee.”
Blue Nile Cafe – Kansas City, MO
As the oldest Ethiopian restaurant in Kansas City, MO, with accolades such as “Best Ethiopian Restaurant” from Veg KC, Blue Nile Cafe is stamped as a must visit. Since July of 1995, owners Daniel and Selam Fikru have made it their mission to supply the surrounding community with healthy and holistic vegan options, inspired by the flavors of Ethiopia.
Delish Ethiopian Cuisine – Seattle, WA
With warm lighting, a soothing ambiance, and a satisfying meal, you’re almost assured to have an enjoyable evening at Delish. As a husband and wife team, co-owners Delish and Amy Abera (who is also head chef) have been able to successfully survive 10 years in business with just seven team members. Amy says that she got her cooking skills from her mother, who was once among the best chefs in her Ethiopian neighborhood. It’s no wonder the restaurant is known for its authenticity.
Mesob Restaurant – Montclair, NJ
Mesob Restaurant, located in the heart of Montclair, NJ, provides tasty options for vegans and meat lovers alike. All of their foods are prepared with imported Ethiopian spices that are blended daily. Their produce is always fresh and sauces are prepared as ordered. They have also been recognized for Excellence in Zagat.
Try Me Ethiopian Cuisine – Gresham, OH
Known for their succulent lamb dishes, Try Me Ethiopian Cuisine in Gresham, OR is perfect for those looking to experiment with their palate. One of the most notable options might be the veggie sample platter, which comes with generous portions ideal for group taste testing. Their affordable prices and efficient service have garnered them rave reviews.
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