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Apr 25, 2009 05:04 AM

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.

        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.

            147 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02145