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Addis Red Sea

Hey guys,
This is a spot we never see mentioned much on the board, but I know a few folks who have gone and have loved it. Any thoughts? I've never been either and don't know much of what to expect (except no silverware and sort of an Indian-ish bent to the food) Is that right? Any insights on what to order, or on the experience in general? Thanks.

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  1. I personally really like this place, though the late-lamented Fasika was more authentic Ethiopian. I guess you could say some of the spicing is reminiscent of Indian, but it's really its own thing. It's a pretty, romantic space, with surprising prices (i.e., pretty cheap) for the South End.

    I tend to skip appetizers and go directly for the little scoops of stew eaten with injera (table-sized, spongey, sourdough flatbread, an eating utensil and neutral starch in one). Favored vegetable dishes: yesmir wot (fiery lentils), mittin shuro wot (ground split-pea stew), butecha (a bit like thick hummus), gomen wot (sauteed collard greens) and atakilt (reminiscent of a mild Indian vegetable curry). Meats: doro wot (fiery chicken stew), yegeb alcha (lamb in turmeric sauce), kitfo (like a spicy steak tartare).

    I like to drink Ethiopian beer with this food. The honey wine (Axum) is worth trying, too.

    1. I'm suprised that this place doesn't get mentioned more also. It has certainly withstood the test of time in Boston for an ethnic restaurant. Not sure how long they have been open, but I've enjoyed my visits throughout the years.

      1. Second that. I love this place and it has been too long since my last visit (wife is scared). On my first visit I was completely enamored with the injera (exactly as MC describes)I find this a fun dining destination and while it can be romantic, it's also great for groups. Its actually an intersting experience as well, you sit on low stools and eat off a rattan/ wicker table on which the large platters are served. I tend to think of the cuisine as hearty and savory comfort food. Thanks for the reminder, I need to move Addis back into my regular circulation.

        1. I third that. Delicious, healthy food, friendly people working there, and a slightly sultry, yet low-key atmosphere. As you mentioned, however, you don't use silverware there, so it might not be for everyone, since some people may be weirded out by that (maybe not a good place for a 1st date!).

          As much as I like Addis Red Sea, I'm constantly kicking myself that I never made it over to Fasika...

          1. This is a very old (from 2002) and very long post, but it's a pretty good overview of a great meal we had at Addis, and also some interesting side-notes on injera. Unfortunately, haven't been back in the last couple of years, I'll have to rectify that soon.


            1. i second all of mc slim jb's recs and add mango juice to the beverage list. it's just mango juice but damn it's good

              1. the only complaint i've ever had about addis is that seating and service can be excruciatingly slow.

                beyond that, it's a fantastic place and i'd echo all comments in this thread.

                if you don't have any particular food preferences or allergies, then i'd recommend the following as a nice overview of their meat dishes:

                Addis Red Sea Special Combo - Doro Wot, Doro Alcha, Lega Tibs, Zenge (Exotic Beef Stew), House Salad and Gomen Wot. For Two $24.95

                there's a veggie combo on the menu, too.

                1. I'm a big fan of the kitfo, lean beef ground, chopped, then tossed with a very spicy butter---the best steak tartare you'll ever have!

                  1. Count me also as a big fan of this place. Whenever I have tickets to the BCA, I eat at Addis.

                    The Kitfo and the Gomen Wat are my favorites. The Ethiopian Harrar beer is also excellent. I've always had pleasant courteous service, and usually I'm not waiting very long for my food, either. One of my all time favorite restaurants in Boston.

                    1. I went and LOVED IT!!! The food was great (although i don't have a lot to compare it too b/c i haven't had ethiopian before) but what was even better was the atmosphere. Fun, eat with our hands, very different cultural experience. I would recommend it as a good place to take people!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: marypoppins2087

                        Totally rocking group bonding place. The best I've been to in Boston in this respect.

                      2. I do love going to Ethiopian restaurants. Addis is definitely a good one, and I hear that Fasika (which is re-opening in Somerville this week) may be even better.

                        I went to an amazing Ethiopian restaurant called Meskerem in the Adams Morgan section of Washington, DC, a few months ago while on a weekend trip. It had that same fun, communal atmosphere, but the food blew away what I've had at Addis Red Sea. I'd love to see a few more Ethiopian restaurants open up in this area.

                        1. I love the food here. If it is your first time, ask to be seated downstairs. Good atmosphere. If you sit upstairs, it can be a bit crowded for my taste and as I recall there are no backs on the seats, so perhaps a bit uncomfortable, too. But the food rocks.

                          1. FYI - by default, Addis Red Sea gives non-Ethiopians injera that is made without teff - which is the grain that makes it taste sour. Supposedly it's because teff is expensive/hard to obtain and Americans are more used to eating milder bread, like naan. However, you ask for it, they'll give you half teff injera and half non-teff injera. Supposedly there are also about a dozen or so other items that you can get that are not written on the menu.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: cing2x

                              now *that* is interesting and totally makes sense. i hated their injera but i liked their dishes. maybe i should give addis red sea another shot.

                              1. re: cing2x

                                If you'd like to try injera made with teff, or buy teff on its own, the convenience store on the corner of Columbus Ave. and West Newton St. in the South End has a full complement of Ethiopian groceries. Aside from breads, they also sell sacks of spices and green Ethiopian coffee beans.

                                The only drawback is that many items are not labeled in English except for the prices.

                                1. re: kbw18

                                  ooh. thanks for the tip. it helps that i literally live a block away!

                                  1. re: kbw18

                                    I have also seen premade injera at a few random little convenience stores - including the Thistle and Shamrock on Walden St. in Cambridge (pretty unlikely place - I'll grant you that!) We've tried it and it's great -- definitely makes it possible to do Ethiopian food at home. Did you know that there's a doro wat recipe in the Joy of Cooking?!?!

                                  2. re: cing2x

                                    Aha! Thank you; we didn't know that, and were startled by the obviously non-teff injera. Maybe we'll try again, though only half teff is still less than ideal.

                                  3. I've been there once and really enjoyed it. I don't recall the name of my dish but it was fish/seafood in a dark, somewhat heavy and spicey sauce (not hot spicey, but aromatic & different flavors). Loved the bread! I love bread in general, but I couldn't stop picking at everyone else's leftover bread long after my entree was gone. I was also recommended a vegetarian appeitizer that was good. Sorry for the lack of names, but the waitress made the recommendations for me, and they didn't disappoint. Service was also slow when I was there, but my party was roughly 15 people, so that may have been part of the problem. The one real complaint I would have is that the seating, which would be fine if service is quicker, but can be a little uncomfortable if you have to endure a long meal.

                                    1. Just an updated comment on Addis Red Sea. If you plan on going on a Fri/Sat night, bringing (5) or more in your party will allow you to make a reservation..otherwise you'll be waiting in, around, and outside the doorway for at least an hour. We made a reservation for (6) at 8:30PM and were sat within 15 minutes. As MC Slim JB says here, the Ethiopian beer is pretty fantastic and the food is extremely interesting. We did not look at the menu and simply told our waitress to give us what she thought would be an authentic experience and educate us as we went. She was amazing, we had 3 rounds of beer and two bottles of champagne + all the food and left for under $300 for six people...pretty amazing. I really enjoyed it and would say to try it out if you have a group of friends to go with or you plan on going during the week to avoid the wait.