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Jul 20, 2009 08:29 AM

Best Ethiopian?

Went to African House this past weekend on the reco that it was the best in the city. It was good...but the best? The wots were really flavourful (the Gomen Wot and the Azifa were especialy good) but the injera was a little too wet/soggy which really threw things off. Plus I wish that they would serve the "dips" I'm sure the flavour would come out more....but I know that's just not the way its done.

So Chowhounders.....where is the Best Ethiopian in the city.....and what are your reasons for naming it #1?

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  1. Lalibela. Reason is, it's the only one I've been to. LOL. The fact is, when I went looking to have Ethiopian, it was probably the consensus best. We were stunned at how much we enjoyed it.


    1. Dukem is my favourite. My friend prefers Nazareth. My husband likes African House. I think they're all good, but it's quite subjective :-).

      11 Replies
      1. re: vorpal

        Ok - so on a subjective note...which resto has the best injera? One that is light but not to wet/slimy? To me, this is a big part of the expererience since every bite you take involves the injera.

        1. re: jrabbit2727

          I think out of the three I had, Nazareth had the best injera... the curries were my least favourite, but they were still quite good!

          1. re: vorpal

            Just an FYI Nazareth is closed for renovations right now.

            1. re: vorpal

              their injera isn't homemade, they buy it!

              1. re: jayseeca

                Do any of the TO restaurants make their own? I'd be curious to know which ones if so!

              2. re: vorpal

                FYI, Nazareth has gluten-free injera available on request, in case anyone's interested. Not sure if that means it's all teff, though.

            2. re: vorpal

              How are Dukem and Nazareth for veg dishes? It does appear (as noted below) that these are well-liked places but some times well prepared meat dishes doesn't work out to well prepared veg also.

              1. re: Ediblethoughts

                I am a meat lover but nothing beats Nazareth's veg dish! I can't wait for them to reopen!

                1. re: bacchus_is_watching

                  This seems to be the case in general with Ethiopian restaurants, I find. I'm a huge meat fan, and I can't fathom eating vegetarian food for the life of me... a meal feels incomplete without some meat. That being said, when it comes to Ethiopian, while I like the meat dishes very much, it's the veg dishes that bring me back.

                2. re: Ediblethoughts

                  I orderNazareth's vegetarian platter all the time and I think it's quite good. I learned to eat Ethiopian food from the poeple I worked with in Israel who used to bring their wives' home cooking for lunch every day. I think Nazereth is pretty close to their home cooked meals.

                  1. re: shpeizmaven

                    I called them up a week or so ago and got no answer--I assume they're still closed? (Went to Lalibela instead which was quite satisfying.)

              2. My fav is Rendez-vous, at 1408 Danforth (around Greenwood). Their vegitarian platter is great..all curries are complex in their flavor...and have texture...some places I find everything is too mushy and flat tasting (just heat nothing else). The injera is good..not slimy. The owners are there serving/cooking most of the time and make the place feel homey.

                6 Replies
                1. re: suzspot

                  What's this about curries? I've never had anything remotely resembling curry powder, paste or even Indian in flavour profile at an Ethiopian restaurant. Granted, the spice blends are complex, but most of the standard dishes at Ethiopian or Eritrean places contain berbere, which is likely a blend of a large number of spices which varies from region to region and thus, restaurant to restaurant. I hate to be a stickler, but the cuisine is so unique that I think it deserves to be distinguished from Indian or any other cuisine that has incorporated what we understand as "curry" into its cuisine.

                  I dined at a place on the Danforth that was very close to Coxwell. I don't recall the name. It was small and there was a second even smaller room in the back which housed a pool table, which was jammed against two walls. The food was very good. We had raw kitfo, two vegetarian combos and one vegetarian dish that was cooked fresh for us. It was WAY too much food for three of us. We were being greedy that night, but it was in error. We loved the raw kitfo. Does anyone know the name of it and is it still around?

                  1. re: 1sweetpea

                    Sounds like Cottage, which is defunct. Not sure if that's the place, though.

                    1. re: 1sweetpea

                      Based on every definition I've read, I fail to see why the term "curry" should not be applied to the majority of Ethiopian offerings. If your idea of curry is based on Indian cuisine, it is far too limited anyway: Thai and Japanese curries, for example, are nothing remotely like Indian curry.

                      1. re: 1sweetpea

                        ya...anyway I figured curry would be more understood to everyone...ok their wat is real good...that better? Besides...the word curry is used to describe meat/veg cooked in sauce and spice...not just in India.

                      2. re: suzspot

                        not sure what slimy injera you are referring to.
                        i think most Toronto Ethiopian restos buy their injery from an outside source (positive that Dukem does).
                        heard great things about Rendez-vous. Told that they, Nazareth and Dukem are the best.

                        Dukem is great, so i just stick wtih them.

                        1. re: atomeyes

                          By slimy I mean kinda wet to the touch...almost like it hasn't been cooked long enough. Has a soggy/limp feeling. I prefer my injera drier so that it can soak up more of the wots.

                      3. I used to go to Lalibela, but Sheba (near Bathurst/College) has been my go-to Ethiopian place since moving to that area. I would rate them about the same. I really like the yebeg tibs at Sheba.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: pravit

                          How are their veg dishes? I've been to Lalibela (veg dishes are very good) but Bathurst and College would mean less of a drive.

                          1. re: Ediblethoughts

                            About the same as Lalibela, I think, although I'm not that knowledgeable about Ethiopian food. I always just get the veggie combo and a meat dish.

                        2. Ethiopian House, at yonge & Irwin is by far the best i've had. Lots of choices/great spices & have a great coffee service at end of the meal.

                          12 Replies
                          1. re: blueberry101

                            Ethiopian House is our standby and we've always been quite happy there. It's not as cheap as I tend to think of great ethiopian food, but there is always plenty of food - if we are with a group of 4, we get veg and meat platters to share.

                            1. re: blueberry101

                              sorry, i would disagree with you.
                              i find their food oilier than the other places i've tried in Toronto. the service is poor and your meal wait time is relatively long.

                              have you tried anywhere else?

                              1. re: atomeyes

                                I've tried M&B Yummy was fine, Addis Abbaba also fine but a little bland in my opinion, African House which was really flavourful but the injera was soggy and Ethiopian House which I argee is really oily.

                                Basically I've had ok Ethopian food...but not great food.....and I really like it, so I'm dying to find a GREAT place.

                                It seeems that everyone likes Duken and Nazareth the best....will have to try those.

                                1. re: jrabbit2727

                                  the sevice should have been enough to turn me off of Ethiopia House.

                                  i was once sitting upstairs and went to go to add something to our order. walked towards the stairs and one of the servers was there. i told her i wanted to change my order and she started rambling how my server was crazy. wouldn't stop talking about it and made a crazy-finger-motion repeatedly. very uncool to do.

                                  took a guest from Brazil there for dinner. i think it was the large oiliness that did me in, but let's just say that i had to cut my post-dinner lounging short.

                                  never had that problem at Dukem. and all of their tibs (including the special tibs) are fabulous. plus the price is great. and yes, like all ethiopian places, they do the coffee ceremony.

                                  if my memory is correct, the veggie options at Addis Ababa were the tastiest in the city. wasn't a fan of their meats.

                                2. re: atomeyes

                                  I love the food there (this is the place that helped me to finally develop an appreciation for Ethiopian food after a number of failed attempts), but I agree that the service is very lacking.

                                3. re: blueberry101

                                  I've never had Ethiopian before, but have been invited by a friend to Ethiopian House. I am wondering what sorts of things you suggest ordering from there, or Ethiopian places in general. Thanks!

                                  1. re: racheljenna

                                    The vegetarian combo platter is probably the best thing on the menu (it so often is at Ethiopian restaurants). I'm a dedicated meat lover, and still I agree with the many people who recommend the veg platter. Besides that, I would recommend trying one beef dish; if you're up for it, get kitfo served raw (I believe that's the raw dish I had in the past, which was amazing).

                                    1. re: racheljenna

                                      The last time I took someone who had never tried Ethiopian food (but was very enthusiastic about it), we ordered the vegetarian bayaaynatu and the regular, meat-based bayaaynatu - the vegetarian gives you small amounts of 8 different veggie dishes, and the meat one gives you larger doses of tibs and kitfo (probably the most common beef dishes) and some greens and such. It makes a nice, broad sampler that allows you to try a little bit of everything to see what you like.

                                      1. re: racheljenna

                                        Just be prepared for how unusually sour the injera (the bread you use to eat your meal--no cutlery) is. That can be a bit of a shock the first time you try Ethiopian.

                                        1. re: Ediblethoughts

                                          Well, I tried it. I now know that Ethiopian is definitely not for me. We got the veg platter. The bread was so spongey I didn't enjoy it at all. Same for the platter. Ah well, now I know.

                                          1. re: racheljenna

                                            It is certainly different than other food . I wasn't much of a fan when I first tried it. I tried it on and off over the years but not very often. For some reason in the last year or so I've really taken to it. I'm not quite sure why I suddenly came around. I guess you could call it a long-term-acquired taste!

                                            1. re: Ediblethoughts

                                              I had a similar experience. I wasn't that into Ethiopian the first few times I tried it... then after about six or seven times of forcing myself to give it a go over and over again, something clicked inside my head and I suddenly developed a strong love of it. It's still far from my favourite cuisine, but I crave it often and regularly.