Exotic and messy, a “hands-on” Ethiopian experience at Addis Abeba

Exotic and messy, a “hands-on” Ethiopian experience at Addis Abeba

What is Addis Abeba?  It is the capital city of Ethiopia, a country that lies on the east of Africa. It is also a restaurant in Evanston, located south from the main town, offering self-claimed authentic  and traditional Ethiopian food.

Addis Abeba is not one of the main stream restaurants that Northwestern students flock to during the weekends. Most people might not have even heard of it before, as it is located all the way down south from campus, a conspicuous restaurant with a yellow canopy that you pass by on the way to Trader Joe’s or Jewel Osco.

I went during lunch on a Tuesday with my roommate, Ida, and the restaurant wasn’t packed at all. The first thing I noticed when I sat down was that there are no silverware on my table. Or on any other tables. I also noticed that there are signs around the restaurant saying no silverwares are offered/allowed. Then Ida reminded me that you eat Ethiopian food with your hands. Ah.

The lunch menu offered combination platters, with your choice of vegetables and/or meat, and it comes with a basket of Injera, a sourdough flatbread made of teff flour and is the national dish of Ethiopia. Ida and I each got a lunch special. For meat, we both got doro wot, chicken legs simmered in berbere (red pepper sauce) and yesiga alitcha, a type of beef stew. For veggies we got tikil gomen, a melange of cabbage, carrots and potatoes, and inqoudai, sauteed mushrooms and yellow split peas.

Two lunch specials on one plate, with Injira bread on the side. $9 for one lunch special.

Everything came on a single plate. It reminds me of a painting palette, except it’s a… food palette.

Picking up food with the Injira bread…

We ate with our hands, using the Injira bread as a wrap to pick up the food. The texture and taste of the Injira bread were interesting – the bread was spongy and slightly elastic, with a sour taste not unsimilar to that of rye bread. It took me several bites to get acquired to the taste. I personally didn’t quite enjoy the sour and savory combination of the bread and the meat.

There was a lot of stew and sauce in the dish compared to the amount of meat in there. The meats were very tender, to a point where the flesh and bones fell apart easily and the texture was too soft and mushy. The stews for both meat were on the greasy side, and tasted slightly spicy, but were overwhelmed by the overall saltiness of the dish. The vegetables were both salty and sour, and tasted refreshing compared to the meat. The dish reminds me of mediocre home-cooked food that was left overnight and was reheated for us. I would eat it if I have to, but probably won’t come back for seconds.

The dish was messy and was a struggle to eat at first. In the end I simply used my fingers to picked up bits of beef because I was too full for/wasn’t too fond of the Injira. I kept stealing napkins from other tables to clean up my greasy fingers and the mess that I made. D:

Was the food good? Its mediocre, not exceptional but not bad. I can’t tell if it’s because Ethiopian food is not the type that I’m used to, or if this restaurant just doesn’t offer good Ethiopian food. But was Addis Abeba worth the visit? I would still say yes. I like this restaurant more for the exotic and eye-opening experience than for its food. Ethiopian food may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I encourage those who like to go on food adventures to give it a try! It definitely won’t be your conventional dining experience. (Unless you’re from Ethiopia) Go during lunch, as the price is cheaper, while dinner is a lot more expensive and will not be worth it.

Name: Addis Abeba

Address: 1322 Chicago Ave, Evanston, IL

Number: 847 328 5411

Price: $10-$15



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