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Jun 11, 2008 06:52 PM

Ethiopian Restaurant recommendations in SEA

While waiting one day for a tow truck at the Wild Ginger parking lot I was graciously invited to share some Ethiopian fare with the attendants who work there. The aroma drew me closer, and I couldn't resist. They showed me how to use the bread to soak up the different piles of food. Now, I have that "taste memory" imbedded in my mind and want to venture out to a good Ethiopian Restaurant.

I've come up with Meskel sp? as one of the top contenders in Seattle and recently in my neighborhood (Mt. Baker) another place called Fana's has opened up.

Any one with any other recommendations and/or specific dishes to try?


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  1. Dahlak is close to you its on Ranier. They serve very good Eritrean food which is very similar to Ethiopian food.
    Here is a link to a review.

    1. My personal favorite is Cafe Selam. They cook everything to order. It is very much a hole in the wall, but don't let that scare you off. I've had their veggie combo, and beef tibs ( you get the option of spicy or regular) Spicy is best, their lamb is also great, and their Doro Wat (chicken) is wonderful, and spicy. (they use free range chicken, so the meat is a bit tougher). Cafe Selam is located on Cherry down the way from Meskel.

      My other favorite is Saba, on 12th Ave, by the Tofu place. This place is pretty nice and charming in their own way. They have a full service bar as well. I've had the Kifto (spiced beef tartar), and Lamb Tibs. It was pretty good, and the owner is very nice too.

      My Ethiopian co-workers frequent these joints quite often, so I always usually follow their preferences.

      3 Replies
      1. re: caligirl009

        Meskel and Dahlak are both top notch. I don't know Cafe Selam, but Saba is a step down if you are ordering meat, from Meskel or Dahlak. Their vegetables are made with olive oil instead of nitter kibe (traditional butter), so they have a different taste, which I personally don't prefer, but I know some people do. They are also vegan, which people like.

        1. re: caligirl009

          Okay, I have a great start, and some entree ideas. Thanks, everyone
          PS I have seen Dahlak and the windowless part has put me off. It makes me feel like I'm back home in Michigan going to an American Legion hall with the 'rents.

          1. re: pickledeedee

            If ambience is part of your desire in an Ethiopian place, I highley reccomend Meskel over Dahlak. The service is friendlier and the general feel much homier at Dahlak, but the building and decor is an entire world nicer at Meskel. If you are interested, I did a piece a while back comparing Kitfo at the two restaurants:

        2. I had a really great meal at that newer place, Habesha, on Minor, by the I5 on-ramp. The place is super nice, but the prices were still pretty low - and everything we ate was fantastic. The place was packed on a week night.

          I also really like Pan Africa on 1st Ave near Pike Place Market.

          6 Replies
          1. re: burritobelle

            If you can say any more about what you particularly enjoyed at Habesha, we will appreciate it, though "everything" "is surely a good recommendation.

            We are smitten by the njera at Pan Africa. Is it theirs? or is it from a bag somehow? (and if so, where can we get it - the best we know, so far?).

            1. re: mrnelso

              I haven't been to Pan Africa. I enjoyed Habesha, I think it is actually about the same price range/a little more expensive than most of the places, however it is up with Meskel in the ambience. Someone clearly knew how to design a restaurant when they made that place. Unfortunately, I found the lamb tibs dry and the kitfo to be downright terrible. The veg. platter was alright, but some lentil dishes were not heated through. That said, I found dining there overall to be an extremely pleasant experience and would definetly return. Though not to order the kitfo.

              1. re: dagoose

                pan africa has been selling their food at the phinney ridge farmer's market on friday afternoons too (in the lower parking lot at the phinney neighborhood association building, near phinney and 67th, just south of where the road jogs from phinney to greenwood) if you haven't tried their stuff and you're on the northside (where we don't have much in the way of ethiopian places) give it a shot. i've been pleased. also not to retread previous discussions but both lalibela and mesob are worth a try as well. though there is a variance of opinions about them. excellent kitfo at both places although the eyeb (ethiopian farmer's cheese served with the kitfo) is extra good at mesob, with a deep earthy flavor.

                1. re: ericlutzker

                  Good to hear good things about Mesob, I live just up the street and have been meaning to try it out! I didn't like the kitfo as well at Lalibela, but in a way that was more one of personal taste--the spice ratio--than anything else.

                  1. re: dagoose

                    it's been a few years since i went to mesob and it wasn't my favorite ethiopian in seattle but the kitfo and eyeb particularly stood out. when you go sit in the bar in the back. it's a nicer room with booths. it feels a little like an east african tiki bar.

              2. re: mrnelso

                Does Pan Africa really have the best injera? We had a rather sad lunch there a few months ago; only one guy was working and it took forty minutes for anyone to get anything to eat (the tables were full of people who looked like they were on a short lunch break and were getting anxious). I got a spiced beef dish with rice that was pretty nice, but my husband got injera with a combo of vegetables, lentils and chicken that was basically tasteless. I wasn't planning on going back.