Good Finger Lickin’: Ethiopian Restaurant

2009 November 6
by David Schlichter
Ethiopian Restaurant (2816 E. Colfax)

Ethiopian Restaurant (2816 E. Colfax)

If getting your hands dirty at a restaurant doesn’t sound Good to you, stop reading.   Upon just completing an enormous meal at Ethiopian Restaurant (yes, that’s actually its name–2816 E. Colfax), we’re guessing that the keyboard used to type this article will smell like delectable Ethiopian food for the next couple weeks.  For those of you who are confused, that’s because, though we were given a plate of food nearly the size of our table, one thing was noticeably missing: silverware.  This wasn’t our first time coming to Ethiopian Restaurant, though, so we were ready.

To be clear, this restaurant is totally doable for two people, but it is more fun with a group of four to six.  Once your group walks in, you’ll be seated and given menus.  On the menu, you’ll see a lot of items that you probably don’t recognize.  There are two tricks to the menu.  Number one: order a combination plate ($13-15/person).  You’ll want to try a variety of dishes, and, with a combination plate (designed for four people), you’ll get a bit of everything.  Don’t freak out just because the three choices for combination plates have words like, “Yebeg Wot,” “Doro Wot,” and “Yater Alicha.”   Here comes trick number two: relax.  Whichever combo plate you choose is going to be delicious (and for those that don’t like to be surprised by what they are ordering, most of the menu items are translated on the left side of the menu).

Combination #1

Combination #1

It is important to know that the service at Ethiopian Restaurant is nice and slow.   If you’re in a rush, you should probably go somewhere else.  With only two or three people working at any given time, there’s no capability to move extremely fast–which is actually one of the reasons why we love this restaurant.  This is a place where you can relax and forget about the fast-paced world outside its doors.

Once your food is ready, owner Negussie Denku, who has been running the restaurant since 1985, or his son will place a huge plate covered in injera—a type of slightly fermented flat bread—on your table.  Then, bowls of food will be spooned on top of the injera strategically so that each person can get a taste of everything (see picture).  To eat the food, you use your hands to tear a piece of injera and, in a wrap-and-pinch maneuver, pick the food up in the injera, bring it to your mouth, and enjoy.

Angela Finke executing a flawless wrap-and-pinch maneuver with her injera.

Angela Finke executing a flawless wrap-and-pinch injera maneuver.

The finger-eating is highly memorable.   So is the food.  Our combination #1 came with chicken, lentils, potatoes, lamb, cabbage, corn, and hard boiled eggs.   Each item was fantastic.  The chicken was perfectly spicy, the lamb was wonderful, and the cabbage was actually one of our favorite parts (seriously!).  Perhaps most revealing, though, was that nobody in our group left hungry and everyone left with a smile on their face.  Ethiopian Restaurant is a real treat–stop by when you get a chance!

Note: Ethiopian Restaurant does not take credit cards.  Only cash or checks are accepted.  If you have neither, don’t worry, there’s an ATM around the corner.

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