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Oct 16, 2012 10:13 AM

Best Seattle Ethiopian?

Hey 'Hounds -

What's the best Ethiopian in Seattle? What Ethiopian restaurants have the most consistent Ethiopian clientele (always a good sign!)?


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  1. The place I used to go closed, but this thread might be a good starting point to explore some options:

    1 Reply
    1. re: Brunhilde

      Thank you! I'll check it out now.

    2. That thread is a bit outdated, though. Hopefully people will update, as it's been a while since I've had ethiopian and I'd be interested to hear if anything new has come on scene in the last year, or if any of the places mentioned are better/worse/gone.

      1. I really like Blue Nile on 12th. Lots of Eritrean cab drivers seem to agree with me...

        That being said for me Ethiopian is sort of like Teriyaki I go to the best one that is near my house as opposed to searching out the best Ethiopian in the city. Voracious just reviewed Jebena Café in Lakecity which seems like it might be worth the trek

        1. It seems my original reply disappeared...but I'll try this again:

          My favorite for overall food quality: Dahlak
          2nd best for food, best for lots of Ethiopians: Meskel (not great for vegetarians, though). Downstairs bar great for soccer watching and seeing lots of cab drivers hanging out.
          Want to move into: Jebena Cafe (great service, uses fresh ingredients, which makes much of it less authentic, but tastes better)
          Breakfast: Cafe Selam

          Next tier down but also good: Mesob, Ras el Dashen

          Best for vegans: Saba makes their food with oil, not ghee (nitter kibe) so it's vegan

          1 Reply
          1. re: dagoose

            Thank you for the tip on Saba! I've been meaning to try some vegan Ethopian food!

          2. There's not even a discussion about this. There's a place on South Rainier called Altaye. It is the beginning, middle, end, and authoritative conclusion to any conversation about Ethiopian in this town. I'm seeing some of the other recs here, and I'm stuck wondering if people just have no other point of reference than what they're recommending.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Quintious

              any particular reason? what makes this the Alpha and Omega of Ethiopian in Seattle?

              1. re: Charles

                1) The injera (made by hand each day) strikes that perfect balance of sour but sweet
                2) The tibs (lamb or chicken, take your pick) are easily one of the most delicious things in the entire city, screw just limiting the talk to Ethiopian
                3) How it is they survive charging only 13 dollars for a platter big enough to feed 4 people, I'll never know
                4) You can go off-menu and order something else if you actually know what you're talking about. The owners are actually from Addis Ababa, and know their cuisine quite well
                5) As someone who's BEEN to Ethiopia, I can say that if you were to put this place anywhere in that country, I'd still go there to eat, which is something I can't say about any other Ethiopian I've had in this city.
                6) The owners are also without question the most genuinely friendly and welcoming restauranteurs in the city. John Howie may donate tonnes more money to charity, but I imagine if these 2 were able to start charging $200 for a meal, they'd lap him.

                The only downsides to Altaye are its location (sketchy - by Seattle standards) and the quality of the building its in itself (looks like a dive).

                1. re: Quintious

                  Interesting about having been to Ethiopia. Everybody I've spoken with (most recently my little brother) seemed to feel much of the food in Seattle Ethiopian restaurants was better than what they got in Ethiopia (mostly higher quality meat/veg). Though all missed all-teff injera, which I know Jebena does by request.

                  I know Jebena makes their own injera daily, as does amys, and apparently Altaye. Where else?

                  Have you been to some of the other places listed here? I'd love to here your thoughts comparatively, so I can understand. Thanks for the input! Sketchy doesn't bug me (hello, pre-remodel incarnation of Dahlak), so I'll be adding this to my list to try.

                  1. re: Quintious

                    1. Altaye. Agree with most everything Quintious said--unparalled injera, great value, wonderful owners.
                    2. Dahlak. Great for most vegetable items, esp. shiro wat, and the "beef jerky." And you can enjoy a little of that Eritrean post-colonial flavor with the pasta dishes, which is a good for novelty's sake if nothing else.
                    3. Meskel. Good quality overall, with more pleasant digs than the other two (unless you happen to favor a re-purposed strip club or liquor store ambiance). I find it's heat and flavors a bit toned down, perhaps to suit the non-African clientele.

                2. re: Quintious

                  We went to Altaye for the second time a week ago. Really enjoyed it, but because the first time we got the veggie combo plate, I was hoping this time we could just pick and choose from our favorites. However, we ended up with the veggie combo again - this time because their menu only contains 3 veggie choices (lentil, split pea, and greens) whereas the combo has at least 8 or 9 dishes to sample. Why don't all these dishes appear as things you can order ala carte?