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Good Ethiopian in SF?

  • m

Does anyone know of any good Ethiopian places in San Francisco or the East Bay? I guess I was spoiled growing up in the DC area. I've tried Axum on Haight (so-so) and another place on Irving in the Inner Sunset. Neither have satisfied.

I recall reading a positive Guardian review about a new-ish Eritrean place a few months ago, but I can't seem to figure out where it is or what it's called. Bother.

Any suggestions?

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  1. I don't know about SF, but there is a string of Ethiopian/Eritrean restuarants in Oakland/Berkeley (almost all on Telegraph Ave., which fascinates me):

    Café Eritrea d'Afrique (Telegraph around 40th)
    Asmara (Telegraph at 51st)
    The Red Sea (Claremont one block east of Telegraph)
    Addis (6100 Telegraph a couple of blocks south of Alcatraz)
    Café Colucci (6427 Telegraph)
    One whose name I can't remember on Telegraph a block north of Ashby, Berkeley (the site of the late, much lamented Augusta's)
    The Blue Nile (2525 Telegraph near Dwight, Berkeley)

    I've only eaten at two of them: The Blue Nile a couple of times many years ago, and The Red Sea a couple of times more recently (but still several years ago ... I guess I haven't been keeping up with my Ethiopian food).

    I don't know enough to judge "authentic" in Ethiopian, but I my impression is that The Red Sea was better (certainly better than Nayla in SF, which I wasn't impressed by) -- there are several negative reviews of the Blue Nile on the web.

    It might be fun to cruise down Telegraph and check them all out. Street parking should be easy everywhere except The Blue Nile.

    (sigh) I sense another research project coming on.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      Last time we tried to go to Cafe Eritria d'Afrique on Telegraph and 40th there was a sign in the window saying it was out of business. This was in the last couple months.

      1. re: susan blair
        k
        Kirsten Armstrong

        I've been crazing Ethiopian food for weeks and was so excited to try Massawa on Haight before a movie at Red Vic's on Monday - only to find that it, too, is closed!

        Got some fried plantanas at Cha Cha Cha instead. Definitely satisfied my sweet tooth.

        I developed a wonderful addiction to Eritrean food at Cafe Adulis in New Haven through 4 years of college. If anybody is familiar with the restaurant and knows something similar, please reply!

        1. re: Kirsten Armstrong

          For excellent Eritrean food, check out Sawa Restaurant in San Francisco (559 Divisadero, 415-614-0580). They have lots of delicious vegetarian options and the portions are generous as well.

          Also, Axum Cafe has very good Ethiopian dishes (698 Haight, 415-252-7912).

          I still say the best Ethiopian food is in Washington DC....

          1. re: K Kinik

            The above post got it right: Sawa is THE BEST Eritrean food in SF--and I've been following Tseguy since he owned what was called New Eritrea on 9th and Irving a few years back ( there was a horrible void in my life until he opened Sawa. {Incidentally, he's the guy that STARTED Masawa on Haight}). Anyway--call ahead for the Hilbet--he's been awaiting a shipment of the secret *spice* for it calls for for months--it's a fantastic fava bean thing w/ veggies, etc. And ANY of the other meat dishes are great, too. DON'T WASTE YOUR TIME (OR YOUR VALLUABLE GI TRACT) ON LOUSY IMITATORS! This place rocks! And they are sweethearts!! Cheers!

            1. re: K Kinik

              Thanks for the suggestions, all. I regret to report that I tried Sawa (finally!) this week and I was not impressed. We had both the meat 3-dish and vegetarian 3-dish samplers. Nothing stood out: all was lukewarm, under-flavored, etc. The waitstaff is very nice, but I won't be back. I'm still looking and will try some other suggestions soon.

            2. re: Kirsten Armstrong

              Massawa is not closed. Just called and they're open. Neither is New Eritrea.

        2. I can't say that I know Ethiopian food but I liked what I had at Massawa (though I just read below that it has closed!?!). You might also try Cafe Berber (I think that's the name) on Valencia (west side) at about 20th. If you find something great, please do let us know!

          1. Good News. We stopped by the Cafe Eritrea d'Afrique yesterday just to confirm its closure and it was open again! Do not know what the confusion was, but am glad to see they have not gone out of business. We heartily recommend it.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Susan Blair

              Just noticed a new African restaurant (Eritrean, I think) on Ocean Ave. near City College -- actually somewhere between City College and Junipero Serra, I'm not sure how far up Ocean Ave. I haven't even looked at the menu -- traffic on this street is so messed up that it's an adventure to get to most restaurants these days -- but I will go there and report back.