If you’re sick of your go-to restaurants when eating out in Boston or are sick of the standard Americanized ethnic foods, look to a new style of cuisine expanding diners’ horizons and taste buds: Ethiopian. What seems a bit frightening at first can become a delightful experience. Whether you enjoy spicy foods or prefer a milder taste, are an omnivore or vegetarian, open up to the tastes of Ethiopia. Be warned, however, that most places do not offer silverware unless it is asked for. Eating with your hands is a more traditional, slightly messy and incredibly fun approach to dining. So choose one of Boston’s best Ethiopian spots below and dig in, fingers first.
Fasika Ethiopian Restaurant
Somerville, MA 02145
Hours: Mon to Thurs – 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., Fri – 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., Sat to Sun – 2 p.m. to 11 p.m.
A small, simple place with a variety of menu options to choose from, Fasika offers a relaxing, unhurried atmosphere complete with a full bar. And speaking of the bar, no matter what you order for your meal, try the delightfully smooth and sweet honey wine. Your taste buds will thank you. It pairs well with one of the best-in-the-business lamb dishes and helps calm the nerves before that first bite. Go with the Fasika special, but make sure to have a beverage nearby because it’s spicy. This plate comes with chunks of tender lamb, sautéed ;with wine and a unique Ethiopian sauce called Awaze.
Addis Red Sea
544 Tremont St
Boston, MA 02116
Hours: Mon to Fri – 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., Sat to Sun – 12 p.m. to 11 p.m.
The quaint, cozy atmosphere mixed with a comforting style of food helps Addis ease you into the world of Ethiopian food. The buttery herb sauces delight, and the combination option lets you pair a meat entrée with a selection of three vegetarian dishes. Order the Kitfo Combination served with mouth watering ground steak tartar coated in scrumptious butter sauce and chili powder for only $14.95. If you’re looking for a lot to try without overspending, then this is the best spot for great value and variety.
Lucy Ethiopian Café
334 Massachusetts Ave
Boston, MA 02115
Hours: Mon to Fri – 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sat – 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Sun – 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
If you’re not entirely ready to break out of your comfort zone, then a café might be the order of the day. Better for lunch than dinner but with options for both, Lucy is the best of both worlds. Lucy Ethiopian Cafe pulls together traditional Ethiopian foods with more commonplace items like wrap sandwiches. A meal here is a way to prepare your taste buds for the flavors of the culture without feeling overwhelmed. The hummus pita wrap is a great starter dish. One must-try item is the creamy and delicious, house-made peanut tea. It sounds a bit obscure but proves to taste delightful.
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739 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02139
Hours: Lunch Mon to Fri – 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Dinner Mon to Thurs – 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., Fri – 5 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.; Lunch and Dinner Sat – 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., Sun – 5 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.
A unique blend of cultures can be found at Asmara, named after the current capitol of Eritrea, which was once part of Ethiopia. But never fear, this show-stealer uses the same flavors and spices as time-honored Ethiopian cuisine. The biggest difference is the use of two types of injera, one made from rice flour and the other from teff, the more traditional wheat-like flour. Both unique options are worth a taste and go well with a variety of dishes, especially the salmon filets. Craving injera? Look no further than Asmara.
Habesha Ethiopian Restaurant
535A Main St
Malden, MA 02148
Hours: Tues to Thurs, Sun – 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Fri to Sat – 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., Mon – Closed
Dine in, takeout or catered, Habesha is a go-to however you want your Ethiopian cuisine served up. Offering flavor-packed menu items with a full bar in an out-of-city-center location, this is the best spot for family dining. Kids and adults alike will enjoy the palatable collection of food. There is even a special chicken fingers and french fry meal for those who might be too young to enjoy the full variety of tastes to be had. However, if looking for a more foreign taste, choose the Awaze Tibs. This plate comes with marinated beef cooked with garlic, onions, tomatoes and awaze sauce. Come hungry when ordering this dish; you will need a large appetite to clean your plate.
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Kat Webber is a graduate of Bentley University. Her random interests include reading, writing short stories, traveling, mythology, beers (especially microbrews), poetry, shoes, dessert, fuzzy socks and scrapbooking. Kat currently resides in Somerville, MA. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.