Food For Life 

Essential Ethiopian Eateries

Much like the Holy Grail, the best Ethiopian restaurants can be hard to find. But drink from these cups of life and find yourself renewed.

Abol Café, 923 NE Broadway, 281-7961

Two things you should remember about Abol Café: they have a six-dollar veggie combination lunch, and they're open until 10 pm. The lunch, while previously served as a buffet, now comes on one big plate with servings of beans, lentils, steamed carrots and potatoes, red cabbage, and Abol's insanely delicious creamy garlic sauce. Bad breath, great sauce. KS

Blue Nile Café, 2225 NE Broadway, 284-4653

This is the perfect little joint for summertime lunches, with several outside tables on the sidewalk. And it's cheap, too! Especially if you go the veggie route. The Nile has an extensive menu of vegetarian/vegan options, all at $6.50 or less. Look for delicious lentil and spinach dishes in particular. The food seems kind of boring if you just go by the menu, but trust me, it's anything but. MS

Horn of Africa, 3939 NE MLK, 331-9844

While not strictly Ethiopian, H of A offers a menu stocked with East African favorites; a variety of chicken dishes deftly spiced and perfectly roasted along with tender lamb and beef variations. Their vegetarian plate is ample, vegan and delicious. Departures like the sambusa pastry, filled with vegetarian or meat filling, offer variety and help stave off the hunger pains as you are subjected to the wonderful aromas emanating from their kitchen. Horn of Africa's spongy biddeena bread comes in two varieties. The "regular" version, familiar to those who frequent Ethiopian restaurants, and a wheat-free, vegan alternative, unavailable elsewhere, that is made with kamut and has a distinctively darker color and heartier flavor. LC

Jarra's, 1435 SE Hawthorne, 230-8990

Jarra's is one of Portland's most famous Ethiopian restaurants, yet all of the reviews posted on their wall are from 1983 or 1991. Well, my modern day opinion is that their food is quite good, the service couldn't be friendlier, and they have a bar! Combination plates are big enough for two meals, and run about $12. Choose Jarra's if you're in the mood for meat, their succulent lamb is served on the bone, and the marinated beef is tantalizing, served in a dense salty bouillon. This is also the Ethiopian joint to hit if you want your food spicy, as you can order it in varying levels of heat. My only complaint is that I prefer the Injera to be on the sour side, and Jarra's variety is virtually tasteless; although to some, that's a perk. KS

Queen of Sheba, 2413 NE MLK, 287-6302

For my hard-earned dough, Queen of Sheba (or simply "The Sheeb," as it's more commonly known) is the one to beat for quality Ethiopian fare. Their base of Injera has just the right texture of doughy goodness with a touch of sour, and is especially delicious after soaking for awhile in Sheeb's perfectly prepared entrees. Meat lovers should jump for their lemon-washed chicken leg which comes in a very nice berbere sauce, or any of their many lamb dishes. Vegetarians will flip for Sheeb's stewed greens, lentils, okra/ mushroom combo, and salad--but I can't remember ever having a less than wonderful entrée at this restaurant. And, as we know, it never hurts to have a fully-loaded bar and beer fridge. WSH

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