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Aug 3, 2010 08:58 PM

Dining near Knott's Berry Farm?

We'll be close by Knott's for an evening event with another couple, and would like some ideas for a nice dinner - not too fancy but with table service. Under $20 per person. Drove through the area today and didn't see much other than a Hoff's Hut (on Knott Ave.). Any Hidden Gems in that area? If not, what's within a 3 mile range? Anything good west of Beach Blvd?

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  1. I actually really like the Knott's Berry Farm restaurant! Why not go there?

    1. Hi, Joani Macaroni!

      How about something deliciously different and somewhat of a dining adventure in and of itself? Try some of SoCal’s finest Ethiopian cuisine at one of two venues essentially equidistant (5 minutes) to Knott’s Berry Farm:

      Merhaba Restaurant
      2801 West Ball Rd.
      Anaheim, CA, 92804
      (714) 826-8859

      Tana Ethiopian Restaurant
      2622 W La Palma Ave
      Anaheim, CA 92801
      (714) 229-1719

      Both are similar in food, service and overall ambiance. Both are owned and operated by genuinely amiable Ethiopian women. Each has its cadre of loyal patrons who swear by it over the other. Until you have tried both and determined your preference, you cannot go wrong with either one. Virtually everything is prepared to order, so expect a brief wait. Share a bottle of Tej, traditional Ethiopian honey wine, while you wait.

      Try the kitfo (spicy beef tartare), the doro wat (chicken with egg), the hamli (mixed greens) or cabbage and the shiro (pureed chickpeas) for a wonderful dining experience you will not forget. Both are real gems tucked away in rather dismal looking strip malls. The vibe is like eating in someone’s home. Finish off your meal with an authentic Ethiopian coffee ceremony. It will definitely wake you up after you’ve gorged yourself to the gills. Merhaba is open daily until 9pm whereas Tana is closed on Mondays.

      Best of all, either place is well within your budget, including wine and coffee.

      Bon Appetit!

      9 Replies
      1. re: degustateur

        degustateur, you always seem to have something useful and cheerful to contribute -- what the hell's wrong with you?? ;-)

        I will certainly try one of these Ethiopian places in the near future. I go through this area occasionally to get my Portillo's hot-dog fix but can't remember stopping anywhere else except the Fatburger on La Palma (for fries when Portillo's fries were still lousy a couple of years ago) and the Keno's Restaurant, also on La Palma, where I hesitantly went in with the urge for a homey turkey dinner and got something so bad that I can't begin to describe it, unless you know Prehistoric Caveman-speak.

        Thanks for the recommendations.

        1. re: hnsbmg

          hnsbmg, your kind sentiments are most gratifying. Thank you!

        2. re: degustateur

          You can also try Thai Nakorn on Beach in Stanton, not too far south of Knotts.

          Thai Nakorn
          11951 Beach Blvd, Stanton, CA 90680

          1. re: degustateur

            Thanks D. We planned to try Tana several years ago, but always ended up with tickets to events in other areas. Wasn't sure if they were still open. Also had heard that this is a slow-service cuisine - would 2 hours be about right for appetizer/entree/dessert? Would the food/environment be suitable (no pork) for our (reformed) Jewish friends? Thank you for the menu suggestions - I wouldn't have any idea what to order or avoid!

            1. re: Joani Macaroni

              Hey There, Joani!

              I am confident that you and your friends will enjoy Tana. The menu is indeed Jewish and vegetarian-friendly. In fact, traditional Ethiopian cuisine does not include any pork whatsoever since most Ethiopians are either Muslims, Orthodox Christians or Jewish.
              Two hours should suffice for a very nice, relaxed meal and Knott’s Berry Farm is literally five minutes away. BTW, Ethiopian meals generally do not include dessert. Go for the ceremonial coffee instead. It is truly outstanding; fresh-roasted, ground and brewed to order. Even die-hard coffee aficionados are likely to be impressed.

              Click on the link below for more info about Tana and to preview its menu.


              Bon Appetit!

              1. re: degustateur

                First of all, BIG THANKS to everyone for their great suggestions. We decided to go exotic and tried Tana's. The couple we went with were delighted with our choice and the food. They do a lot of traveling and enjoy ethnically diverse places and cuisine, so finding something different or unique here at home can be challenging. This was the first experience for all of us with Ethiopian food, but now we're loooking forward to trying Merhaba as well.

                We were planning to start the meal as degustateur recommended, with the honey wine. Unfortunately, our hostess shared with us that she is no longer able to get it, but is looking for a new source. She graciously went back into the storeroom, just on the odd chance there might be one bottle left; unfortunately, there was not, but we appreciated her checking for us. As D. had mentioned, she was very friendly and took a personal interest in our group when she realized it was our first time there, and first experience with Ethiopian food.

                On to the food - since there were four of us, we decided to share several things and split the bill. We ordered the vegetarian special which is a huge platter lined with the pancake-like "bread" and has dollops of the various vegetable side dishes in a circular pattern, enough for 4 to 6 bites, giving us each a taste or two. She had assured us that along with the three meat dishes we had ordered (Zil Zil Tibs, Awaze Tibbs, and the third escapes my memory), it would be plenty, and it was. In order to eat the food (no forks, knives or spoons!) you use a piece of the "bread" which is a bland wrapping having the appearance of a spongy crepe, torn off from the loose roll (which sort of resembles a folded linen dinner napkin when it comes along with several others on a small additional tray). This is the same type of "bread" that lines the large round serving platter, which works as a lazy susan. Our hostess demonstrated how the platter is designed to turn so that you can access any of the dollops of vegetables or lentils easily. Definitely a communal experience and one you want to have clean hands for! When you use up your "napkin" of bread, you begin tearing off the lining of the tray and using it to scoop up the various tidbits.

                We were looking forward to after-dinner coffee as D. recommended, but as the place was getting busier, we decided to try it another time, since "curtain call" was approaching. We had refreshments later at the Buena Park Community Center (not far from Knott's Berry Farm), which was our entertainment destination for an outdoor play (currently "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum").

                Wonderful food, good company, and a hilarious play - a great way to enjoy an evening locally!

                Tana Ethiopian Restaurant and Market
                2622 W La Palma Ave, Anaheim, CA 92801

                1. re: Joani Macaroni

                  I missed this whole thread, but I'm glad you went to Tana. I think the meat is very good at Merhaba but the vegetables are atrociously bad, and I prefer Ethiopian vegetables to Ethiopian meat.

                  Ethiopians don't eat pork, by the way; most are Orthodox Christian from a denomination that prohibits pork, and most of the remainder are Muslim.

                  Next time you hit up Tana, I urge you to try the quanta firfir, which is crunchy-dry beef jerky cooked in tomatoes, spices and shredded injera (the spongy bread). Unbelievably delicious.

                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                    Das, there's a Kenyan place next door to Tana's - we were curious - is it any good? Have you been there? (thought I'd ask, since it's in the same neighborhood!)

                  2. re: Joani Macaroni

                    Have never tried Ethiopian either. This cuisine was on Top Chef recently. Hope to try soon, as the restaurants are close to me. Thanks for report back.

            2. about 4 miles away, on Lincoln in Cypress is Senor Big Ed's Puerto Rican food.

              Senor Big Ed
              5490 Lincoln Ave, Cypress, CA 90630

              1. You could do Park Ave. in Stanton for under $20/person w/out drinks or apps/dessert.

                2 Replies
                1. re: I got nothin

                  I would of recommended Park Ave as well, just a couple miles south of Knotts on Beach Blvd. It is truly a hidden Gem. Next time, definitely go next time.

                  1. re: Frankie D

                    Thanks, we had been there and also to Knott's chicken dinner, but the other couple hasn't been to Park Ave., so we'll go another time.

                2. Hi Joani!

                  I’m so glad that you and your guests enjoyed Tana. If you didn’t, you would certainly be in the minority. I am anxious to hear your opinion of Merhaba and hope that you visit there sometime soon. I had another wonderful dinner there this past Friday evening.

                  As for Kenyan Cuisine, it is a much different experience. For one, you get to eat with utensils (^_^)! I have enjoyed a number of excellent meals there over the past couple of years. The atmosphere is, again, laid-back, homey. Everything is prepared to order, so the service may be slow. The food is indeed authentic and well prepared in accord with Kenyan tradition. The meats and greens (sukuma) are similar to Ethiopian versions, however, they are typically served with chapati, a Kenyan fried flatbread, rice and ugali, a white cornmeal mush somewhat akin to polenta but hard-set. Dredge it through the sauces on your plate and enjoy its mild flavor. Beware, it is very filling and will definitely stick to your ribs.

                  Goat (mbuzi) is the most prevalent meat in Kenya and their version is superb. The most flavorful portions of the goat are used, including the tendons and a few bones – do not be alarmed or put-off by their presence. It is intentional and, of course, very traditional. Beef and chicken entrees are also offered, but, again no pork. The fish, usually stewed (fried) tilapia, is a delectable choice as well when available.

                  There is a notable Indian influence in Kenyan cuisine as evidenced by the chapati, lentils and wonderful samosas that you certainly must try during your visit. Do be sure to get a taste of the kachumbari, a pico de gallo like condiment to accompany your main dishes. Theirs is fresh and excellent.

                  Thank you for being adventuresome and for your outstanding recap of your experience. It was much appreciated.

                  Kenyan Cuisine
                  2626 W La Palma Avenue, Anaheim, CA 92801

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: degustateur

                    Wow, that sounds good. I just can't imagine convincing my fiance and her 12 year old daughter to try goat. I don't get to pick restaurants very often for the three of us, and that might be the last choice I get in a very long time.

                    1. re: degustateur

                      Wow D., sounds great. I'm game for goat! (as long as they don't bring the skull - other bones don't bother me!) Thanks for all the ordering tips!

                      OC - they also have fish, chicken and beef too - your gals can order that and you get the goat! Maybe they will try a little taste and loosen up a little. . . can't hurt to offer.

                      My husband is very hesitant about new places, usually wants to have a personal reference from friends, but he's been pretty good about trying Chow Hounds' recs.

                      1. re: Joani Macaroni

                        My S.O. is up for the place, goat and all, but I don't think I can even let the kid see the menu. Goats are cute after all. The only time I have had goat was down in Mexico at a taco stand when I was doing some work on the Gulf Coast a decade back. What I had was pretty stringy, though who knows what cut they were using.

                        1. re: ocshooter

                          Doesn't it have to do with the age of goat? Must have been the proverbial "old goat!"

                          Hey, how about a date night for just the two of you? Maybe you can exchange evenings out with her best friend's parent(s)?