To truly enjoy a big Ethiopian meal, bring a large appetite. Ethiopian entrees are served on a large platter covered by a traditional mesob basket. Start the meal with flavorful Ethiopian coffee or spiced tea.
An entrée traditionally consists of tib or cooked meat, fitfit or entrée prepared with berbere spices, or wot which is stew. All are served with the “injera” which is a spongy pancake-like crepe. Nonvegetarian entrees are prepared with stewed beef or chicken. Vegetarian entrees consist of pureed lentils, split yellow peas or chick peas or shredded injera.
There are quite a growing number of Ethiopian restaurants in the Bay area. I tried the Zeni Restaurant on Saratoga Ave, Addis Cuisine in Campbell, and Gojo Restaurant on West San Carlos Street based on web reviews.
While all three restaurants are favored by locals, I found these to offer similar menus, price ranges and service. Zeni offers variety of appetizers. I tried the Sambussa, which is fried dough filled with lentils, onions and herbs served with spicy dip. I tried the vegan entrée here, the Ye-Timatim Fitfit, which is the scrambled injera with tomatoes, onions and lime juice. The spices were pretty mild and the food was pretty tasty.
The fitfit and tib entrees fare between $8.99 – $13.50, while a side order of wot is $5.00. For beverages, most Ethiopians drink local wine called “Tej”. Coffee, mineral water and tea are also on the menu.
The next restaurant, Addis Cuisine, was a little hard to find. The atmosphere here is more casual and seating is limited to about 30 people. This restaurant offers some of the basic wot, tibs, and fitfit for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Entrees range between $8.99 – $10.99. No appetizers or sambussas are available but coffee and drinks are on the menu. No utensils are used here and entrees are scooped by tearing pieces of injera with your right hand. I had the kitfo wot here or stewed beef which was “keema” wrapped in injera. The spices were a little stronger here than Zeni.
The third restaurant I tried was Gojo which is the name of a traditional Ethiopian home. This is a quaint restaurant on West San Carlos Street that seats about 40-50 people. Menu offers the same entrees as the other two restaurants (no sambussas), except here, they offer a “Lunch-on-the-go” menu consisting of “kitfo” or beef sandwich, grilled chicken sandwich and egg sandwich. I had the egg sandwich here along with Ethiopian coffee. The sandwiches fare for $6.50 while the main entrees range between $8.99 – $12.99 and side orders of wot for $4.99.
All three restaurants have unique styles of preparation and offer a cozy setting. If you like Ethiopian food, I recommend any of the above three in the bay area.