Food & Drink

Top Places for Ethiopian Cuisine in Seattle

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credit: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

credit: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Ethiopian food is mainly spicy vegetable and meat dishes, usually in the form of wat, which is a thick stew, and injera, a large sourdough flatbread. The stew is made with spicy peppers and meat or fish, or a variety of vegetables. The dishes are served family-style, and using utensils is optional, which kids love. Dip the injera into the hearty stews and sauces, and enjoy. Here are three of Seattle’s top spots:

Pan Africa
1521 1st Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101
206.652.2461
http://www.panafricamarket.com

With a new location opening in West Seattle (called the Pan Africa Grill) at 5905 California Avenue SW, there are now two great locations for Ethiopian cuisine from owner Mulugeta “Mulu” Abate. Not only does Pan Africa serve up spicy, delectable dishes, but they teach you to do the same! You can sign up for their Ethiopian cooking classes online at http://www.www.panafricamarket.com. With a large variety of vegan and vegetarian options, there are also many meat, poultry and fish platters to try. Order the chicken, apricot and date platter (especially since apricots are ripe) – tossed with almonds, coconut sauce and rice, it’s completely filling and a great mix of sweet and spicy.

Habesha
1809 Minor Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101
206.624.0801
http://www.habeshaseattle.com

Hailed by Food and Wine, Habesha melds traditional Ethiopia with modern Seattle. The restaurant has low lighting with paper lanterns and exposed brick walls. You will discover traditional Ethiopian dishes: tibs, stir-fried strips of beef or lamb and a spicy chicken stew called doro wot. The Green Chicken comes highly recommended – it’s a breast of chicken sauteed in olive oil, with freshly ground herbs and spices, on a bed of greens. On the side is the Ethopian ‘ketchup’ – Awaze. Made with tej (honey wine), oil, chiles, lentils and other spices, it’s the perfect compliment to the dish.

Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant
2800 E Cherry Street
Seattle, WA 98122
206.322.8565

The modest little Madrona restaurant with outdoor seating for warm Seattle days has enormous veggie platters. Bring a huge appetite, or a medium-sized appetite and a few friends to share with you. Highly recommended is the special combo plate.  It offers something for everyone and is a great introduction to Ethiopian food. Ask for the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony, if you have time. It’s an elaborate ritual that evolves over the course of about two hours and is considered an offering of friendship and respect. Or try the tej, Ethiopian sweet honey wine. There’s no silverware. You just grab your food with pieces of flatbread and dig in. If you want to be authentically Ethiopian, eat with your right hand.

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