By Gabe Herman
Queen of Sheba has been serving Ethiopian food in Hell’s Kitchen for nearly two decades, and is still going strong with a wide array of tasty dishes from owner and chef Philipos Mengistu.
Before Mengistu moved to America in 1990 with dreams of opening an Ethiopian restaurant in New York City, he learned the craft in a restaurant that his parents ran in Addis Ababa.
He even imported his mother’s berbere hot sauce from Ethiopia when he opened his own restaurant here in February 2001.
The small restaurant, at 650 Tenth Ave., at W. 46 St., has an intimate atmosphere, with a few tables in the front and a bar, and a slightly bigger area in back with more seating.
The chicken, beef, lamb, fish and vegetarian dishes are all served with injera, a sourdough flatbread with a sponge-like texture.
All dishes are served over a rolled-out piece of injera, and several more rolled-up pieces of the bread are brought, as well. The injera is filling and the dish portions are generous, so skip a meal beforehand to maximize the experience.
It’s encouraged to eat with your hands — picking up portions of the foods by using pieces of injera — so the tables are not set with any utensils. A fork, knife and spoon will be provided if asked for, but you might get a disappointed look from the server.
A beef sambousa appetizer at Queen of Sheba. (Photo by Gabe Herman)
Appetizers, ranging from about $5 to $9, include sambousa, which are dough pockets with some spiciness and filled with either beef or lentils; avocado salad; tomato salad; and azifa, which has lentils, onions and chili peppers mashed in a mustard vinaigrette.
Main dishes range from about $14 to $20, and there are also lunch specials, and 20 percent off the first online order. The restaurant is open seven days a week.
More information can be found at shebanyc.com.