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Teranga or Addis Red Sea?

I would like to try either one of these African restaurants--which one is better? I know they are from different regions (Ethiopia and Senegal) but I'd like some opinions on either or both of them.

I'm planning on going to meet up with a friend that I haven't seen in a while for dinner. Did any of their dishes stand out? This is my first time with either one of these cuisines.

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  1. I like them both: they're cozy, romantic, nice-but-casual-feeling kind of places with pretty comfy prices for the South End. I guess it depends on what you're looking for.

    I'd say Addis Red Sea is doing something a bit more traditional, though its take on Ethiopian cuisine is slightly gussied up and bowdlerized a Western audience. An interesting cuisine, though very approachable. The spicier legume stews and chicken stews are my favorites there, though I also like the kitfo, kind of a spicy steak tartare. Ask for some teff injera, the spongy flatbread you eat with everything: it's more traditional and interesting than the default wheat injera. I suspect Addis will feel more novel to first-timers than Teranga.

    Teranga appears to play up the more familiar-to-Westerners elements of Senegalese cuisine, emphasizing its French influences (and some accompanying Vietnamese flavors) and feeling a lot more like a European or American bistro in terms of atmosphere and wines. You're likelier to encounter more dishes that remind you of North Africa or the Levant. It's a bit more expensive, too. Both are places where the service can be a bit leisurely.

    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

    8 Replies
    1. re: MC Slim JB

      Thank you for the thorough response! I'm still not so sure about the eating with your hands thing at Addis Red Sea though--I would welcome it but I'm not so sure my dining companion would be so open-minded. Do you think that it's something that someone can easily be adapted to? Essentially, do they explain how to eat? Also, have you tried any of their wines? I've heard that the honey mead at Addis Red Sea is good.

      1. re: bartholomeu

        It really isn't any trickier than eating hummus with pita. Your table is basically a platform for a tabletop-sized platter, which comes out with a giant round of injera on it and your menu choices as little mounds of stuff heaped around on top of the flatbread. You also get a plate of more injera on the side. You tear off a strip of injera and use it to scoop up a spoonful of chicken stew or lentil stew or beef saute or what have you, and pop it all into your mouth in one bite. Pretty simple and fun, also very tasty.

        The wine list at Addis is very modest, nothing special, bottles that typically retail for $8-12. The honey wine is worth trying once. Beer also goes will with this food.

        http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

        1. re: bartholomeu

          although I love Addis, in the past I have taken friends to eat there who were "grossed out" by the eating with the hands thing. I think they are missing out on a fun experience with delicious food. However...if you think your friend might be the type to find it off-putting in any way, a safer bet would be Teranga.

          By the way, the Mead at Addis is delicious. If you like dark beer (like Guinness), they have an Ethiopian beer called Hakim Stout, which is really rich and almost chocolate-tasting. I'd also mention that the Injera is very filling and the portions are large, so we don't usually bother with appetizers.

          1. re: mwk

            I'm always baffled by this. The same people that get wigged out by picking up some doro wat with injera presumably have no problem eating tacos, hot dogs, sandwiches, pizza, pork-belly buns, corn on the cob, ribs, chicken wings, nachos, pâté on baguette rounds, asparagus, chips or crudites with dip, and so on and on. Wash your hands, eat with your hands, wash your hands. What is the big deal?

            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

            1. re: MC Slim JB

              Agreed. I'm guessing these people never used a hunk of bread to mop up a delicious sauce?

              1. re: LeoLioness

                I, myself, certainly have no reservations about eating with my hands. As a matter of fact, I think I'm leaning toward Addis Red Sea--it seems to be a really great experience.

                1. re: bartholomeu

                  If they really have an issue with the eating style, and don't have an issue with being barbaric, they can actually eat it all with a spoon. In fact, I have seen this before with my own eyes and I will confess I even put this into practice myself as it enables one to rapidly inhale large amounts of Ethiopian food out of a bowl while in a snuggie on the couch.

              2. re: MC Slim JB

                It does baffle me as well. I think it may have something to do with the communal plate that everyone is eating from. I don't understand it at all.

        2. Doro wat (delicious spicy chicken in berbere) is the nicest entry point to Ethiopian food, I think. I'd order that and maybe fit fit (injera soaked in sauce) or beef and a lentil dish. I like the honey wine, tej. Addis will be heavier and saucier--I am always almost too full when I'm done there. I know people always say scoop, but I think that's actually confusing. What you really do is take a piece of injera with your fingers and pick up the food with it in a pincer grip; it's actually not messy at all to do and I believe they will bring you hot cloths to clean yourself before and after. (It's been a while since I've been to the S. End one.)

          I agree, Teranga will feel more "refined" in that the portions are smaller and the execution is more bistro than home cooking. I love the fish croquettes and the drinks! The different juices are wonderful. I've only had a few main dishes but if you want to try the homestyle Senegalese foods get the thiebu djeun, mafe, or yassa guinaar.

          They will both feel special--Teranga has outdoor seating and a light-filled dining room. Addis tends to hew to the more traditional style of really feeling like you are inside when you are inside.

          1 Reply
          1. re: dulce de leche

            The cottage cheese and collard green app at Addis is really delicious. It's actually a pretty non-threatening experience once you get the hang of it. The food is good comfort food, very user-friendly. I can't compare to Teranga since I've never eaten there.

          2. So I was looking over the menu and saw the Addis Red Sea Special Combo which seems like a good way to try a bunch of different dishes. Has anybody tried this? Is it enough food for 2 people? Should we get some appetizers too? Also, does anybody know if they are very busy on weekday nights?

            2 Replies
            1. re: bartholomeu

              A combo for two (vegetarian or special combo) is the way we usually go. They include a simple green salad, and I think it's plenty of food without an appetizer, as injera is pretty filling. If you're nervous about under-ordering, I'd recommend that ayib begomen (cottage cheese, cooked greens, hot spices) app, too. It's delicious.

              http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

              1. re: bartholomeu

                I had the combo (not veg) last time and left stuffed. That with a couple apps should fill you up.

              2. I'll offer the lone dissent on Addis -- and have not been to Teranga so can't compare the two. Despite a lovely, interesting atmosphere and staff we were really underwhelmed by the food. We ordered dishes that by their descriptions we expected to be among the most assertively spiced and flavorful and they were almost inedibly bland. One dish was accompanied by a delicious sauce, though only a tablespoon or two -- we asked if we might have more and were told no. Thinking it may be a matter of money we said that of course we'd pay for it and again a big no.
                I also thought the bread was really unappetizing -- it had the appearance of tripe and felt sort of damp.

                1 Reply
                1. re: ebaba

                  Injera is fermented from a starter hence the appearance and it is a very moist bread. Needs to be baked daily as the moisture level causes spoilage. I like the texture, not the fenugreek flavor but with food it's delicious. I'm going to make some Zigny Doro this week.

                2. Though this reply comes late for Bartholomeu I just wanted to report a poor dining experience at the Addis Red Sea in Porter Square. I got a vegetarian combo which was fine but not great. My husband got the chicken doro wat and one other chicken dish (I think with ginger). He said both were bland and too gristly. Very disappointing.