by JACQUELINE CAIN | The Boston Magazine
According to Lettensa Afeworki, owner of Asmara Restaurant in Cambridge, Ethiopian cuisine is a kind of “friendship food.” Who could disagree? There’s something special about sitting around a communal basket to share colorful stews—more nuanced in their savory-spiciness than strictly fiery—that are long-simmered with aromatics and spices, like the signature blend, berbere. And of course, no meal is complete without injera, the fermented flatbread used to scoop up each morsel of flavor. Still, from tender-braised lamb to crisp-fried sambusas and plenty of vegetarian fare, Ethiopian cooking offers plenty of hearty, flavorful options for solo takeout (and leftovers), too. From Roxbury to Malden, here is where to order the best Ethiopian food right now.
Welcoming folks around their traditional, basket-woven mesob tables, this Central Square mainstay has shared northeast African cuisine with the Boston community for more than 30 years. Dishes like salata fitfit (an appetizer of marinated tomatoes and ripped pieces of injera), peppery curried salmon, and combination platters of deeply flavorful stews also make great takeout, and Asmara offers a gluten-free injera option for folks who call in advance. Named for the capital city of Ethiopia’s neighbor, Eritrea, the homey Asmara Restaurant is full of art from the family-owners’ homeland. It’s currently open for takeout nightly from 5-9 p.m.
739 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-864-7447, asmararestaurantboston.com.
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Owner Yosef Haile’s tangy injera is the perfect match for vibrantly spiced main dishes, including lega tibs, beef braised with onions, fresh tomatoes, chili peppers, and the classic Ethiopian spice blend berbere; and a vegetarian-friendly platter featuring yekik alicha (simmered yellow split peas). A bottle of the house tej (honey wine) is also, arguably, an essential pairing. Blue Nile is currently open for takeout every day but Monday.
389 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, 617-522-6453, bluenileincjp.com.
This tiny, unassuming eatery is easily missed among the crowded storefronts of Jamaica Plain’s Centre Street (and it’s just a few doors away from Blue Nile). But what a shame it would be to overlook the Best of Boston-worthy cafe’s vibrant, berbere-threaded misir wot (lentil stew), and silky-tender yebeg tibs (sautéed lamb), which are currently available for takeout. The small restaurant is BYOB when it’s open for dining in, and also offers soft drinks like fresh mango juice and Ethiopian coffee service. It’s open every day but Monday.
377 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, 617-319-6982, ethiopiancafe.business.site.
The no-nonsense name sets the scene: Melden’s Ethiopian Restaurant is a reliable favorite for a range of specialities, from vegetarian stews like the mild ye-atkilt wot (green beans, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, and onions); to buttery, lean beef gored gored, and whole-fried tilapia. It’s open every day for lunch and dinner.
1 Highland Ave., Malden, 781-851-4517, ethiopiandining.com.
After 15 years with a restaurant in Somerville, owner Befekadu Defar opened this Dudley Square outpost in 2018 to bring more of his native cuisine to Greater Boston: Think Ethiopian omelets and coffee, well-seasoned sambusas (filled-and-fried pockets of lentils or beef) and sun-colored stews. Fasika also offers some American dishes, like a blackened chicken sandwich. The Somerville location is currently closed, while the Roxbury restaurant is open daily for takeout and app delivery.
51 Roxbury St, Boston, 617-238-7979.
Habesha Ethiopian Restaurant
Freshly seasoned kitfo, a steak tartare-like dish of minced, raw beef fragrant with fiery chilies and a floral burst of cardamom, is a must-order from this Malden mainstay. Habesha is also a local favorite for rich, deeply flavorful split lentils and braised meats, served on big platters with spongy injera. It’s open every day, and online ordering and delivery is available.
535 Main St., Malden, 781-399-0868, habeshamalden.com.
Lucy Ethiopian Cafe
This friendly little Symphony-side gem is open daily for takeout fare like the Addis combo, our go-to platter of spicy red lentils, garlicky-ginger split peas, and spiced spinach and potatoes, served with injera. While breakfast is on hold for now, ask about traditional coffee and drinks like the sweet and nutty besso, a shake made with barley and chocolate. Lucy is open for takeout daily from noon-8 p.m. (7 p.m. on Sundays).
334 Massachusetts Ave., Boston, 617-563-0415, lucyboston.com.
Oasis Vegan Veggie Parlor
The healthy, vibrant dishes and drinks that populate Nahdra Ra Kiros and Jahriffe Mackenzie’s menu take inspiration from both founders’ heritages: Mackenzie is of Jamaican descent, while Kiros identifies as “Ethiopian-Roxburian.” On the plate, that translates to popular dishes like curried cabbage, misir wot (red lentil stew), and spicy African couscous. Oasis is currently renovating, with plans to reopen on July 23.
340 Washington St., Dorchester, 617-237-9033, Instagram.
This North Cambridge cafe makes it easy to try a broad range of Ethiopian specialties with its ultimate combo platter: It features beef, lamb, and doro wot (chicken simmered in spicy red pepper sauce), plus a couple scoops of vegetable offerings and enough injera for at least two people to feast. The kitfo dulet also stands out here; Sheger’s butter-spiced minced rare beef gets an added savory dimension from chopped onions and green chili peppers. It’s open every day for takeout and app delivery.
2376 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 857-706-1139, shegercafeandethiopianrestaraunt.business.site.
Read from source The Boston Magazine