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Eithopian Restos in Cambridge/Somerville

The new Fasika in Somerville has been panned. There are, I believe, two other Eithopians in the vicinity: one in Central Square (?) and one on Mass Ave., left side toward Porter Sq. from Harvard, but I can't remember either name.

A veggie-inclining friend (not totally veggie since she eats non-shellfish fish) and I are thinking about trying some Eithiopian food next week. I tried searching the board but came up shy of anything other the ill-received Fasika.

Any names and recommendations?

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  1. Yes, Fasika has been panned by some, but I quite like it. The atmosphere is weird, due to the bar and all, but I've gotten good food and service - the thing I found annoying is all the restrictions when ordering a combo. Don't go expecting a fine-dining experience, but rather for inexpensive home-style. A good place to go with vegetarian or vegan friends. There are a few duds (like the split peas if I recall). The catfish was good the one time I had it.

    I think the Ethiopian option near Porter you're thinking of is Addis Red Sea. It also gets mixed reviews, but if you want a proper dining room you might want to try here first.

    1. There is a new Ethiopian place in Malden called Habesha (near the orange line) that I think is good. Very good value too. I prefer it to the others in the area.

      1. Addis Red Sea is on Mass Ave in Cambridge. Have been to the South End location and had an interesting experience but the food wasn't memorable.

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        Addis Red Sea Ethiopian Restaurant
        544 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02116

        1. I would counter with enthusiastic support for Fasika. Granted, it has a very low-end dining room which makes it feel like it is in Ethiopia. The food, I've found, is well-done and generous. We've had a variety of the meats including raw kitfo which was outstanding and most of the veg items on offer with only one or two on the bland side. There are usually tables with several Ethiopians eating piles of food that probably bear only a slight resemblance to anything on the menu. Not neat little samplers where one item is safely distanced from the next, which is how ours gets served!

          In contrast, I've found the food at Addis (both locations) to be a watered-down, with both the food and dining experience highly "sanitized". They do not make injera with the authentic teff flour (which not everybody likes because it can be very sour), for example, and most of the wats have been "OK" but uninspired, even when we ask for spicy/authentic versions. Clearly, they are very popular and you are probably less likely to encounter some stray gristle there than at Fasika.

          Overall I would say that none of the local options are in the league of the Ethiopian/Eritrean that is pretty easy to find in the Bay Area, but would put Fasika much closer. I am looking forward to trying Habesha at some point as it does sound promising. All-in-all, I think the choice depends on what kind of dining experience you are looking for. For me, I'll take my Ethiopian food homey, maybe a little edgy, and get my hands dirty enjoying it!

          1 Reply
          1. re: chilibaby

            I personally find it insulting to visit restaurants in which folks who speak the language and are of the nationality of the food being served get 'upscale' treatment while those of us who speak English are treated like tourists.

            Having said that, I just had an excellent meal at Habesha. The place was packed with Ethiopians (mostly just drinking beer and hanging out, laughing and talking loudly) and the waitstaff only spoke halting English. The food was fantastic, plentiful, well-spiced, and extremely reasonable.

          2. I'm a big fan of Fasika. I've been going there for years. I have never had a bad meal there.

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            Fasika
            147 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02145

            1. The one that I like is on Mass Ave near Symphony Hall in Boston. Lucy's Ethiopian Cafe. It's small but welcoming and the food was wonderful. I keep meaning to go back to try more of the menu.

              Penny
              http://www.bostonzest.com/

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              Lucy Ethiopian Cafe
              334 Massachusetts Ave, Boston, MA 02116

              1. I'm not a big fan of Addis Red Sea on Mass Ave (haven't tried the South End location). I found the food to be pretty bland, although my experience may have been colored by having eaten really excellent Ethiopian in Washington DC the week before trying Addis Red Sea. I keep walking past and thinking I should give them another chance, but never really felt inspired too. It is, however, easy to order vegetarian there, and the atmosphere is fairly nice.

                1. Anyone been to Habesha lately?

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                  Habesha Restaurant
                  535 Main St, Malden, MA

                  3 Replies
                    1. re: Bob Dobalina

                      To add to my previous post%3

                      - Habesha isn't as atmospheric as other Ethiopian places in the area (Addis, Asmara). Square tables covered with plastic tablecloths, a large bar, and 70s-looking posters of Ethiopia on the walls. If you want to eat sitting around a wicker basket table, they don't seem to have that.

                      - The food definitely takes awhile to get to you, but it's worth it, and plentiful. At Asmara, when I order an 'entree' to share, I get a wedge of that selection on the big platter of injera to share. But at Habesha, the $14 house special was a dozen different foodstuffs atop the huge injera platter. Our order of kitfo was spooned at the table around all the different foods, and our order of the daily special (a beef dish) was served on the side in a large bowl with a boiled egg on top.

                      - Little cups of cardamom-scented coffee were free!

                    2. I've been to both Addis Red Seas (Porter & South End) as well as Asmara, and purely in chow terms I'd have to go with Fasika -- better quality at a lower price. That said, Asmara and the South End Addis both have pleasant atmospheres and the food is decent-to-good, if a little overpriced. For whatever reason, I didn't have a great experience the one time I went to the Porter Sq. Addis...they messed up an order and seemed to have management issues. I think the food at Asmara is probably slightly better than this Addis if those are the two you are choosing between.