The Ethiopian Restaurant | 1582 York Ave. (bet. 83rd & 84th Sts.) | 212.717.7311 |

IT MUST HAVE been over some twenty years ago when I first witnessed the opening of an Ethiopian restaurant. Not as broad-minded as I am now, my first reaction was to almost laugh. Aren't Ethiopians starving?!, I would joke to myself, not understanding how such an impoverished country could possibly even argue that they have an actual and indigenous cuisine.

Thankfully, greater education and my never-waning desire to eat everything possible has, over the last couple decades, graduated me from my ignorance and helped me enjoy also sorts of foods I would have never dared to ingest during my former culinary shallowness (see, cod milt).

So while perusing MenuPages earlier today, I decided to further educate myself and try my hand (and taste buds) at Ethiopian food, as I clicked on the link for ETHIOPIAN and discovered there was restaurant just a couple of blocks away called, humbly enough, the Ethiopian Restaurant.

I went for lunch, and was at first surprised at how spacious the restaurant's interior was, assuming the Upper East Side didn't possess that many adventurous eaters.

I got the menu—although I already knew what I would order from perusing the menu online—and started with some tasty beef sambussas, two crispy, fried pastries shells filled with ground beef seasoned with garlic, onions, and spices.

The rest of the menu contained dishes I had honestly never heard of before, and an offer of the Ethiopian Combo, included many of these indigenous meals in one, encompassing yebeg alecha (chunky lamb stew delicately seasoned with garlic, turmeric and ginger), tibs wot (strips of beef cooked in berbere sauce with an assortment of traditional spices), tikel gomen (sliced cabbage and carrots cooked in mild sauce), misr wot (lentils stewed in red-pepper sauce and Ethiopian spices), and yabesh gomen (collard greens cooked lightly with green pepper and garlic). The combo was all served on and with injera, a crépe-like bread that served as my only silverware, as is their tradition.

All of it contained great flavors, even with some spice combinations being a little foreign to me. the meat dishes each had tender proteins, spiced for flavor and heat, and complemented well by the bread. The vegetable dishes were more mildly seasoned, but let their true taste characters come through.

I happily finished all of it—except the bread, which eventually becomes quite filling—and can say I was very satisfied with the meal. As it turns out, there are another ten Ethiopian restaurants in New York City; I will need to check a few of them out shortly enough to attain a proper frame of reference.

But for now, not only is The Ethiopian Restaurant my "favorite" (by default—teehee), but one serving fine and tasty indigenous Ethiopian fare as well.

Who knew...?!

Bun Apple Tea!


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The Ethiopian Restaurant | 1582 York Ave. (bet. 83rd & 84th Sts.) | 212.717.7311 |