You’ve heard the dumb jokes about Ethiopian food. Perhaps you’ve even made some. But truth is, the Horn of Africa nation has some damn fine cuisine, and the best part, of course, is that you eat with your hands, grabbing food with pieces of injera (flat, spongy bread). Eat with your hands at one of these spots, Toronto’s finest Ethiopian joints.
The spicy gored-gored (seasoned raw beef chunks) will burn your tongue but the highlight is the real fire: Ask your hostess for Ethiopian coffee, and she’ll perform an elaborate, 30-minute-long tableside ritual, roasting and brewing the coffee over a small open furnace. Mains, $10 – $13. 9 Irwin Ave., 416-923-5438.
It’s worth braving weekend crowds and uneven service for a spot on Addis Ababa’s west-facing patio. Gorge yourself on Ethiopia’s national dish, kitfo (minced, marinated raw beef) as you watch the West Queen West hipster parade. Mains, $10 – $15. 1184 Queen St. West, 416-538-0059.
Nazareth (beef tibs, pictured above)
The spicy vegetarian platter of lentils, chickpeas and potatoes is a must-try at this narrow Little Africa hangout, but the real treat is Nazareth Ibrahim, the charming owner and hostess: She’ll have your name and favourite beer memorized within twenty minutes, guaranteed. Mains, $7 – $12. 969 Bloor St. West, 416-535-0797.
Sisters and co-owners Assi and Sebla Zenawi distinguish their Little Italy eatery with antique armchairs and a wider variety of dishes than their counterparts. Start with chicken samosas and then dig into the house specialty, succulent lamb tibs. Mains, $7.50 – $14. 418 College St., 416-963-5527.
To add some exoticism and sensuality to dinner experience, try a platter of Lalibela’s succulent and savoury lamb tibs. Then finish your meal with the leisurely Ethiopian coffee ceremony (pictured). Lalibela, 869 Bloor West at Ossington.
Image courtesy of Irene2005.