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Fasika, Somerville

If anyone gets to the new Fasika in Somerville, I'd love to hear how it is. I was thinking of going there in the next week or two if it's as good as I think it will be.

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  1. I'm hoping to check it out tomorrow or Wednesday and will report back...

    1. www.fasikarestaurant.com - nothing very helpful up yet though. I'm excited to check this place out. Haven't had Ethopian in a couple of years, and we were just making plans on Sunday to go to Addis Red Sea. This would be even more exciting... although the bread did make my stomach swell up. I'll have to go easy on the bread this time.

      1. drove by here tonight with my wife. it looked like a townie bar: neon beer signs in the window, big tv's inside, a cook or waiter smoking out front. atmosphere wasn't doing it for me, so we rolled on (and had another fabulous meal at tu y yo). i'd love to hear what this place is like, but i feel that not renovating the place before opening was a huge mistake.

        1. Very good food. Very weird scene. They've divided the old pub from the restaurant with a short wall, so all the townie regulars peer at you suspiciously while you're dining.

          But the food is worthy, and they serve a traditional Ethiopian coffee service.

          I liked: Yebeg tibs (lamb, jalapenos, onions) and the kitfo (steak tartare with hot chile butter), and the mild lentils. The injera was nice and tangy, though just a little fluffier than I like. But still good.

          One advantage of being attached to a tavern is that you can order an actual cocktail.

          Neon beer signs: Apparently, the Ethiopian couple who own the restaurant bought the bar a few years' back and wanted to keep at least part of the place familiar for the longtime regulars.

          1. Finally made it last night. Four of us ordered the "combination for 2" but asked for enough food for all four of us. Our waitress was more than happy to answer our questions about the menu and made some suggestions. The combination for 2 allows you to order 3 meat and 4 vegetable dishes (to be served on the traditional bread). Because we were 4 people that total went up to 6 and 8, respectively. We made a few choices ourselves and then asked her to just surprise us with the rest to give us good variety.
            Essentially we ended up with one of almost everything.
            I'm sorry I can't remember the traiditional dish names, nor everything we ate - there was so much food! Here are some highlights:

            kitfo - very good, very very spicy
            collard greens - simple and delicious
            split peas - as my dad put it - "refreshingly mild" after all the spicy food
            yellow lentils - wonderful
            cabbage and potatos - not spicy, very good
            curried vegetables - i didn't try but these were my sister's favorite
            a mild lamb dish that was gone in under a minute we all loved it so much

            the injera was delicious

            as we neared the end of our feast the chef came out to see how we liked everything. He answered our many questions about the different seasonings and spices and was just so friendly.

            I am so thrilled to have this option only 3 blocks from my home as i will definitely be back!

            None of us were drinking last night, so our feast for four with a meal's worth of leftovers taken home by my sister after tax and tip was $50.

            Individual dishes are in the range of $8 - $11. There are also two "combo" options for individuals - a vegetarian and non-vegetarian which are about $20 and allow 4 choices, I believe.

            Don't let the funky atmosphere keep you away - this place is a gem!

            5 Replies
            1. re: heathermb

              Wow! Thanks so much for reporting back. That sounds amazing!

              1. re: yumyum

                It really was...I look forward to going back soon...and to having a great takeout option so close to home!

              2. re: heathermb

                Sounds awesome - thanks for the good report!

                Is the injera of the fairly light or darker (teff) variety? And is it sour or just plain? (I prefer the darker, sour kind myself but I've been tainted by a trip to Ethiopia a few years ago...)

                Personally I think the dodgier the atmosphere, the better the food... so I'm loving the neon signs.

                1. re: Sgt Snackers

                  I too prefer the darker more sour but this is pretty light and plain. Still a great vehicle for all the delicious food. And actually it was better for me b/c i didn't fill up just by eating the injera!

                  1. re: Sgt Snackers

                    Me too. This is my problem with Addis Red Sea. Are you saying these restaurants don't use sourdough teff? That would explain it!

                2. Obviously, the owners of Fasika have a penchant for weird locations. The exterior of Fasika when it was in Jamaica Plain was also a weird, nasty-looking, storefront-y location that scared me off for many years. Once I was inside, though, it was great.

                  my blog

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: TheScribe

                    Why is everyone so afraid of non-descript storefronts? Not so scary.

                    1. re: Joanie

                      I agree. There's nothing scary about the New Bridge Cafe, Santarpio's, the Salem Wood Cafe, or Cronin's Publick House, even though they look a bit rough around the edges from the outside. Even Paddy's in Cambridge isn't that bad......actually..... I take that back. ;-b

                      1. re: hiddenboston

                        I think Vinny's at Night wins the award for nondescript location!

                        1. re: heathermb

                          C'mon. The Paddock isn't exactly welcoming, but once you are inside you'll never want to leave! I agree with Joanie, this is what the whole chowhound thing is about ... good food in unexpected locations. Can't wait to try Fasika.

                          1. re: heathermb

                            Thanks for posting, do you think they're ready for a smallish chow dinner? Nondescript: been to J&J?

                            1. re: Aromatherapy

                              You're right about J&J, of course. I really want to go to Fasika with some hounds but slammed now until January. Wah! Just write a thorough review if/when you go! Especially interested in the kitfo -- like spicy tartare, no?

                              1. re: yumyum

                                I don't know that i'd describe the kitfo as tartare - it was fully cooked. but spicy, YES!

                                I think they could handle a chow dinner...would really enjoy such a thing, i'd imagine.

                                1. re: yumyum

                                  "Slammed now until January"--uh, now that I think more about it, kind of in the same boat. January looking better.

                      2. Thanks for sharing! I live in JP and was wondering what happened to Fasika. Last I heard they were moving to Centre St, I didn't know they were going to Somerville!

                        1. Went to Fasika tonight with 3 friends - we had yemisir wot (lentils), gomen wot (collard greens), yebeg tibs (lamb), and minchet abich key (beef). We drank tej (honey wine), which was good - cloudy and very different from the tej I had in DC (but similar to the tej at Ethiopian Diamond in Chicago, come to think of it). Lastly, we had the coffee service, which was wonderful; the ceremonial aspect was a nice way to finish a meal. and the coffee was excellent (both with and without sugar).

                          I don't eat beef, but the other three dishes were great (and the beef was quickly devoured by the two guys who do eat beef. The lamb was AMAZING: tender, well-flavored (and the injera that the lamb sauce had soaked into...mmmmm.)

                          I'll be back soon - definitely.

                          1. Have always heard about Faskia, been curious to try it. Am hapy to hear ti resurfaced. How spicy is the food there?

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: FoodFemme

                              Really as spicy as you want it. When I was there last week the chef came out and asked us about our tolerance for spice - which ranged from total wimp (me!) to "bring it on" (my father) - so our dishes had a good range of spiciness.

                            2. We live just down the block from this place and were both suprised and excited to see an Ethiopian place open in the neighborhood. Last night, we finally went to try it.
                              The atmosphere, as many noted, is a bit strange. The spot was formerly, and to some degree still is Coleman's Cafe - a nondescript East Somerville neighborhood bar with an equally nondescript booze selection and what seems to be a bevvy of loyal blue collar clientele from the neighborhood. It does feel like there is a somewhat awkward social divide between the two sides of the room, but it's mostly fine, and they have put some effort into making the place look decent - nice warm paint, colorful fabrics and such. The owners have had the place for several years already and were just running it as Coleman's, same as before, so perhaps they keep the bar open out of loyalty to their regulars, which is sweet. Of course, its also possible that they are just hedging their bets, and reluctant to lose their substantial bar income until the restaurant gets off the ground. Time will tell.
                              The food, on our visit, was just OK. I have eaten Ethiopian food in DC, West Philly, and San Francisco, so I'm pretty well versed. What we had didn't stand out but didn't offend terribly either. We ordered a combo plate for 2 (around $20 with tax) and drank Heineken's. As several have noted, the combo is injera with 7 dishes, three meat and four veggie. Theres a little variation is what you pick, but you get to taste about 2/3rds of the menu this way, so i won't bother listing the specific dishes. Portions were fine but not especially generous, and food was lukewarm (in temperature as well as quality) at best. Several mistakes were made in service, we ordered chicken with tumeric and got chicken with berebere, and got 2 beef dishes instead of the lamb and the beef we ordered. They caught the missing lamb and brought it out separately at no charge. All in all, we will surely go back as we both love Ethiopian food and we live right down the block, but we werent too impressed. Maybe next time we will order off the menu isntead of the combo, the fish dish I saw going to another table (not avail. with the combo) looked pretty good. Hopefully things will come together better in a few months, or maybe we just caught them on an off night.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: andytee

                                I agree that overall it's not up to par with the best of DC and San Francisco. But like you suspected, the catfish is very good. It competes with Dok Bua's catfish dish for best I've had in Boston.

                              2. I went a few weeks ago and had the combo plate and it was fair at best. Maybe this isn't the best way to go. When I was at Cal there was a cheap Ethiopian place just off campus that I rather liked. Fasika was a step down from that.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: junior coyote

                                  No doubt Berkeley/Oakland/SF Ethiopian > Cambridge/Somerville/Boston Ethiopian. An interesting question is whether you can substitute any X for Ethiopian to render the inequality false. I'm not convinced.

                                2. WOW! With all these raves and an economical price tag, I can't wait to try it. Was underwhelmed by Addis; mabe this will do the trick. And, <b>pamiam</b>, if the tej is like Chi's Ethiopian Diamond, I am in for a treat.

                                  1. Okay, I quickly looked through the posts on this page but more than anything I had to give all you interested folks some info on this amazing restaurant. Fasika used to be up on South Huntington until it closed a few months ago. It was my favorite restaurant. My husband and I and our friends were seriously devistated when the place closed. We would try to call the number to see if we could find out what happened and went online to see if they had reopened. For a while we had heard it might open in JP but tonight, after months of curiosity, I saw online that they had opened in Somerville. I joined chowhound just to add a blurb since they have the link on their website.

                                    Not to sound like a cheese ball but the food at Fasika is made with love, it tastes like your grandma made it for you in her kitchen. When Fasika closed I tried other places around town to sooth the pain, Red Sea, some place in Central... nothing was good enough and I felt like I was cheating on my true love. I would have rather not eaten at all than eat less than Fasikas food.

                                    And what specifically is great about the food? Well my goodness the flavors, the totally unique flavors of the food. The spice combinations are amazing. The food tastes so clean. The vegetarian dishes are so hearty and delicious. If you love to order a meat dish that is about the taste of the meat and not the sauce on it then you will love the meat dishes there. The spices and sauces that season the meats are so delicate and fantastic. Have I mentioned the bread? The bread is like nothing else you have tasted. It is made with a grain called teff which is fermented, this results in a slightly sour taste. Teff is also one of the most nutritious grains on earth, no joke. If you like to eat with your hands, this is a great place to do it. They will give you utensils but if you want the total fun experience leave the fork alone.

                                    And lets hit on the word fun again. When you go to Fasika your food comes on a large platter and you get a big plate of bread. If you go in there with your best buddies and all eat off the same plate, fighting over the lentils and drinking the Ethiopian beer I promise you, you will fall in love with the place like me and my friends did.

                                    I have to go now and get ready, I am heading off there tonght. Welcome back Fasika, we missed you!!!!!

                                    1. I finally (finally? I heard they were open about 2 weeks ago!) made it to Fasika, in its new Somerville digs. I'd not actually ever been to the old location.

                                      Yes, the layout's odd. I can but hope that eventually either the food business will push out the bar business, that the division between them will be strengthened, or at least that the TVs, jukebox and Keno system will vanish. As I was one of 2 couples there last night at 8, I'm not holding my breath.

                                      The food was solidly good. I'm not sure injera what MamaLikesEats was having, but mine was not at all sour, which I thought was too bad. (MLE: Were you in there around 8-9:00? If so, hi!)

                                      We had (meat) combo for 2, ordering kitfo (raw! Yum!), a lamb dish (probably yebeg wot) and a chicken dish (I don't remember what, except that the egg was missing!).

                                      I told the waitress to pick the veggie dishes and we got yesmir wot, gomen wot, yatakilt kilikil, and probably the yekik alicha.

                                      All were quite yummy. Not perhaps the best I've had (that's still Meskerem, Washington DC) but very goood and I think the best I've had in Boston (I missed the days of Ethiopian Restaurant in Central Sq. I hear they were excellent.)

                                      I find both Addis Red Sea and Asmara both good (with Addis the better), but there was something about Fasika that (other than the injera) that I liked more. The flavor combos - probably better stated as "the spice mixes" that the chef uses are somewhat different than what I'm used to, and seem a bit more... succulent? I don't know what I'm looking for here.

                                      The portions could've been a bit bigger, I suppose, but then I don't really need bigger portions these days. The price was just fine ($20+tt for the combo. Neither of us had drinks other than water) and the location's really convenient.

                                      I'll certainly be going back.

                                      1. We went there a few days ago and--well, maybe we were just there on an off night. If not, Fasika's deteriorated hugely since the move to Somerville. New management? New cook? I don't know, but the old place was one of our favorite restaurants, while Monday's meal left us cold.

                                        We don't live in the Boston area, and it's enough of a trip that we hadn't been to Fasika since the last time we ate at the JP location. Having really missed it, we ordered both huge samplers (meat and veggie) and ate, if I remember correctly: Yebeg tibs, Minchatabesh, Key wet, Yemisir wot, Yekik alicha, Gorem wot, and Yatakilt kilikil.

                                        Alas, the food was mostly BORING. The Yemisil wat was, as my husband said, "hot without being spicy"; everything else was just pretty bland. I don't mean mild, though it was that, but without much flavor at all. (And yes, as other people have said, even the injera was dull.)

                                        No doubt it was worse by comparison with the Ethiopian food we'd had recently on a visit back to Berkeley (oh, how I miss Cafe Colucci!). But that wasn't the only problem. This is the only time within memory where those leftovers didn't even come home with us. What a pity; it used to be such good food...