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Feb 27, 2010 09:47 AM

Gluten-Free Ethiopian

We'll be visiting LA in March and are looking forward to having good Ethiopian food (we're an hour from Oakland but don't get down there much). Last year we went to Rahel's which we loved and our now 5 year old daughter proclaims it her favorite restaurant ever.

But, the majority of Ethiopian restaurants, including Rahel's, do the version of injera, with barley and/or wheat, instead of the traditional fermented 100% teff. My daughter and I both get symptoms from gluten but can have it once a month or so (not celiac). I figure, why waste that one meal on injera and, besides, I love the thick sour injera that only comes with the all teff version.

So does anyone know of an Ethiopian (or Eritrean) restaurant in the Los Angeles area that has a gluten-free injera? (We're staying in Echo Park but are open to a variety of locations.) Cross contamination isn't an issue for us so it's okay if the place serves both kinds (though please mention if it does because I will share the results with friends who can't handle gluten traces). The restaurant doesn't need to be vegan but should be vegan-friendly (haven't found one yet that isn't...prefer no butter but small amounts are doable).


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    1. re: Servorg

      Fassica has been closed for over a year. Which is kind of a shame, since it was quite good (if overpriced by the end of its run) and convenient for me!

      1. re: Servorg

        Fabulous, thank you. Have you or anyone else been there? What's it like?

        1. re: CyndiN

          Looks like it's being reported as closed. Sorry about that. Maybe check to make certain.

          1. re: Servorg

            it certainly is closed, and has been for quite some time

            1. re: Servorg

              Bummer. I just tried their phone number and it's out of service. But the website lives on!

              Someone told me that Rahel's will make all-teff injera if you give them 24 hours notice. Anyone know if this is so?

              1. re: CyndiN

                My mistake, I meant to say "several days" in advance, not "24 hours."

                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                  I first checked their web site, which was still up and running. I didn't see any "closed" notices on Yelp. I then looked in the archives on CH and didn't see any mention of the closure, and the place link was not marked as closed (which I have now done). I only went once or twice after they first opened, so certainly haven't been recently. Anyone else want to chime on on the fact it's been closed for a long, long, long, long, long time? ;-D>

                  1. re: Servorg

                    do you believe that das ubergeek and i would make up something like that?

                      1. re: Servorg

                        well, here's another source that says Fassica is closed (Feb., 2009)


                        1. re: Local

                          I think I heard it was open in a parallel Universe. String Cheese theory makes it possible!

                    1. re: Servorg

                      They're so two thousand and eight, you're so two thousand and late.

                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                        I must of ate at least that many black eyed peas in my life...good vibrations from the string cheese, no doubt

            2. I am not very experienced with Ethiopian food and would like to drag my celiac husband with me to check out Meals by Genet or one of the other Fairfax Ethiopian restaurants. So can I ask the same question more broadly? Will my husband be able to find a full meal to eat that excludes wheat or will he be watching me eat?

              3 Replies
              1. re: coffeebrownies

                Ethiopian food doesn't really use wheat (except in wheat-mix injera). Sauces are not thickened with flour, the butter used is usually seasoned only with whole spices, and the spice mixes known as mitmita and awaze don't contain wheat ingredients (or soy sauce, fish sauce or any of that hidden-wheat malarky).

                Be aware that dishes called fitfit or firfir are injera cooked in spice paste, so if the injera at a place is out, so too will the fitfit/firfir be out.

                All these places do own silverware; if worse comes to worst and your husband is so severely celiac that he must avoid even the appearance of gluten, ask for a spoon and ask for your food to be served in dishes rather than on injera.

                As for teff-only injera, the injera sold at Merkato is, I believe, 100% teff flour. You can ask to make sure.

                Call the places you want to dine and ask them if they have 100% teff flour injera; English is not a problem with the places on Fairfax. If they don't, ask if you can bring injera from Merkato (assuming theirs is gluten-free), and explain why.

                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                  I phoned them and they said their injera is 90% teff and 10% wheat and they don't have any without wheat.

                2. re: coffeebrownies

                  I agree with DU. I've taken a celiac friend to my fav place in Oakland (Cafe Eritrea) which has 100% teff injera and all the dishes are safe (not counting the one or two Americanized things they sell that I've ignored) and things like beer. Since I don't react to trace amounts of gluten, I wouldn't notice if there was some, but my friend does and I've had Ethiopian food with her many times safely. When the injera isn't safe for her, she gets her meal in a separate serving container on rice (for some reason, the places we've been seem to have rice available).

                3. I phoned Rahel's and asked them about gluten-free injera. They will make it upon request! They need to be asked the day before and they charge an extra $1 per piece.


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