Reno: Chowdown at Zagol, an Ethiopian restaurant
The Greater Reno Grub and Gripe Group gathered at Zagol for its latest Chowdown. Overall we enjoyed the food. The manner in which it is served was maybe a little off putting but we quickly overcame it.
This is a restaurant that opened a couple of years ago on East Fourth Street near downtown Reno. It’s in a new building in an area targeted for redevelopment by the city of Reno.
I looked over the menu and found nothing I would object to so when it came to ordered I deferred to others. Robin pretty much handled the ordering and she did a good job. She made a point of ordering food that would be a contrast. She noted one previous dinner there where too much of the food seemed similar.
But because Robin did the ordering I can’t really tell you much about what we ordered. We had the combination dish and we got two beef dishes and three vegetable dishes. Robin also got some cottage cheese that was a nice mix with the spicier dishes.
We placed our order and the food arrived a short time later.Unfortunately, Chowhound is not letting me upload photos. All five portions of food and the cottage cheese are served on a platter on a big sheet of soft bread called injera. Additionally, there is wrapped bread served in a plate. One member of our group asked, “Are there plates?” The answer is no. You take some of the bread on the side, tear off a bit and use it to pick up meat or vegetables. As the food gets mushed together eventually it’s easier to pick it up together.
I can’t describe each individual dish, but all were good. And the cottage cheese is a nice addition, too. We didn’t feel full after we finished the first so we ordered a lamb dish and it was also good. Also lots of good wine. Robin and Fred brought a nice 2010 Twisted Oak verdelho and a 2009 Dillian primitivo. I brought a 2010 Ametzoi Rubentis, a Basque rose that’s a little more rounded than the 2009 I brought to the Chowdown at the Santa Fe.
Service was good. Our water glasses were kept full.
We didn’t order anything else but the also offer Ethiopian beer and Ethiopian coffee.
855 E 4th St Ste H, Reno, NV 89512
Glad you got over your "pre-wedding jitters" :) Injera is also what's in rolls on the side of the platter. No reason for plates as you're picking up a single bite at a time. We had leftovers and she gave us some injera to take home. I've saved a CH recipe somewhere of how to make it cause I love it so. That cottage cheese is terrific. A cool, tart counterpoint to some of the heat and richness. I've tried the honey wine once and while I wouldn't have it again I'm more of a when-in-Rome kinda person. Although I'm not a real beer drinker we did have the Ethiopian beer which actually I think is a better match for Ethiopian food than wine is anyway. Good for others to know that it's alright to bring your own. Our server was the owner who was delightful. She goes back to Ethiopia regularly to see family and buy spices. She especially liked it that we ordered the kitfo (seasoned chopped beef) raw. I gather most "gringos" don't :)
It was a really enjoyable evening - a nice change to try diverse cuisine in a town that is ethnically challenged foodwise. Lovely company, and I liked the fact that we could actually have a conversation without shouting to our dinner companions.
It was a bit messy, but that was part of the adventure of eating with your hand as a utensil. My favorite dish of the night was the spicy lamb stew with green peppers in it. Like Steve said, when the dishes arrived, we had no idea what was what, so we just dived in and tried a little bit of everything.
Thank you, Steve, for letting the non-drinker in the group escape the corkage fee :-)