hi! i'm new here but have been lurking for while. such a great board! :-)
anyway, i've never had ethiopian food and i have a few restaurant suggestions (mostly from this board) but i don't know what to order. can anyone give me some favorite dishes, and maybe even a brief description? i'm open to trying anything. thanks!!
I usually end up at Ethiopian House, which is a decent choice for a first-timer.
Lucky for you, they offer 'sampler' platters, that have small amounts of each of the dishes. These can either be vegetarian, meat, or a combination of the two. The menu is on the website, and the prices are very reasonable. My personal favourites are the veggie samplers, and the tibs (pan-fried beef).
I've not been a fan of the salads and appetizers, so stick to the mains. They're served all together, so everyone shares from the same platter. You can request for this not to happen, in case someone is a strict vegetarian, or prefers to have their own dish.
One tip, be sure to order the coffee. It's fantastic, and totally worth it. It takes about 30-45 minutes to prepare, so you have to order at the same time as you order the food.
I live just around the corner from Ethiopia house and have loved it every time I've been. They have a great lunch special.
I am a huge coffee fan and always wanted to try the coffee "ceremony" but had never had time. A few weeks ago I did order it and, unfortunately, was very disappointed. I don't know what I was expecting, but the ceremonial part was relatively unremarkable. And the coffee tasted, as one friend put it, a lot like the Ethiopian blend at Starbucks. There were about 20 of us that time, so maybe that was a problem - extal, what did you like about the coffee?
Again, I recommend Ethiopia house to everyone. Enjoy.
I too have tried to Ethiopian House and highly recommend it.
I was the one vegetarian in the group that we went with, but was quite satisfied. I suggest getting a few sampler platters as well. We ate with our hands using the bread as 'scoops' as the Ethiopians do, but you may be able to get utensils.
And yes, be sure to order the coffee. I don't normally even drink coffee, but Ethiopian is such a unique experience that I thought I should this time.
Don't expect great service, however. But the food itself will no doubt be memorable
What part of town do you live in, how far will you travel?
The main strip of Ethiopian restaurants is along Bloor St. W. between Ossington and the west site of Christie Pits. There are a bunch of places and they change names and owners frequently. (I used to live right here and went to Selam, which became something else, and then Lalibela which was something else last week)
Now I live near the Danforth and go weekly to Dukem at 950 Danforth between jones and donlands. There are others along Danforth heading east (not concentrated like on bloor). There's one that advertises in NOW called something like Abay Fawfate - I've gone twice and they wouldn't give me food. Said both times they had none left (one was Friday at 6pm, the other was a weekday at a similar time). Ethiopian Village has been written up lots on this board.
There are a few others - Ethiopian House and the one on Queen W near the Drake whose name escapes me. They tend to be pricier.
What to order? Ethiopian menus here are straightforward and don't vary too too much. Go with a vegetarian sampler (usually 5 or 6 dishes) and/or a meat (lamb, beef, chicken) sampler. Figure out which dishes you like, then go back and order them instead of a combo. A veg combo should be about $10, the meat one a tad more.
Hope that helps
Thanks for all the suggestions! I'm on Yonge and St. Clair but I'm willing to drive. Ethiopia House looks like a good place to start. I'll let you know how it goes.
Give Queen of Sheba on Bloor West a try. It looks a bit shabby when you first walk in, but the dining room at the back is actually quite charming. The food, as far as I'm concerned, is better than Ethiopian House on Irwin St. It's more reasonably priced and, as mentioned, you can order the combo platter (veggie or meat and veg)here as well.
Ethiopian food is spiced with a spice mixture called "berbere," which is fragrant and hot but not burning hot. There are some cooked meat dishes, some raw meat dishes, many menu items made with various pulses (legumes), and terrific stewed collard greens.
The dishes are served in separate mounds on a huge piece of injera bread, which is a spongy bread traditionally made from teff flour. It's a little odd the first time you try it, but when it's soaked with the sauces from the various dishes, it's divine.
No forks or knives here or any Ethiopian restaurant, by the way. You take a piece of injera in one hand and scoop some morsels of food with it. Total comfort food!
Lalibela has changed ownership? Bummer! I used to go to it years ago, then it changed hands and sucked. I went back a few months ago and it was very, very good. I've been meaning to go again... but now it's changed... again...
Oops - my mistake. I was in the neighbourhood last night and realized LALIBELA is fine and intact. The place I ate at last 2 times is three doors west of it on the same side of the street. Not sure what it was called recently but it's now called Adam - it has 3 or 4 booths in the window and in the summer they open the big picture windows and it's like eating on the street. Sorry about the mistake.
Ethiopian House certainly has a nicer ambience than most and the food is quite good.
Recently I have most enjoyed Dukem in the east end and Lalibela in the west. Lalibela's injera seems lighter than most others and they have a much wider selection of dishes than any other Ethiopian resto I've been to in Toronto.
I had a few really interesting experiences at Ethiopian Village (south side of Danforth closer to Woodbine). A couple of years ago, it was a store that sold everything from Ethiopian foods, to jewellery, to used university textbooks. You ate in the kitchen at the back while watching the food being cooked to order. I haven't been in recently, and it appeared that they were renovating, so the experience may or may not be as chowish, but it's worth a try.
Good news that Lalibela remains intact. In fact, we went a few nights ago and had a good time and great food. A note on the injera: I asked why theirs was darker in colour than all the other places I frequent, and they replied that it's because they only use teff (the grain that injera is, I gather, supposed to be made with) where most other places cut their injera with wheat.
Others might chime in, but I was told that 'pure' injera made just with teff is OK for folks with wheat allergies and the likes (ie. those that can't eat bread etc.) Wheat intolerant people please confirm before gorging!!!
If you haven't been to Ethiopian House yet, here is our favourite order:
- House Green Salad (I don't know what' in the dressing, but it's addictive)
- Azifa (spiced cold lentil stew, don't knock it till you try it, it's very delicious)
- Sherro wat (spiced chickpea mash)
- Kitfo special (ground beef, we get it well done, though it's supposed to be eaten rare
- Goman wat (the collard greens).
- the spiced tea is very nice, though, when we go for brunch i.e. just after waking up on a Sat at about 12noon, we order the coffee service.
These were our favourite picks from trying the taster platters, and what we go back to all the time. We do, however, prefer our food on the spicier side with bolder flavours.
The tibs dishes, which are often recommended, are a bit to stringy for me. And the veggie platter is okay, but a lot of the dishes are less flavourful than the sherro wat, so we just ordered our fav.