1184 Queen Street West
Located right on Queen Street near the Gladstone hotel in Parkdale, Addis Ababa is a popular and crowded place where yuppies, intellectuals, students, and artsy folk gather to dine on delicious and savoury Ethiopian cuisine. Spread across an open concept dining hall this dimly lit place plays traditional music and has a touch of traditional art on the walls. Not kitschy and overdone but very tasteful in decor.
The menu is simple and only 2 pages. One page are the vegetarian dishes and the other page meat dishes. All dishes are served with injera, traditonal Ethiopian flatbread. I ordered a personal combo dish for one with an assortment of items like Shiro Wat (roasted spiced ground peas in a Berber red pepper sauce), Yekik Wat (boiled split peas in Ethiopian style mild sauce), Yatakilt Wat (steamed cabbage and veggies with garlic and ginder), Gomman Wat (spinach with garlic and ginger), Fasolia (green beans satueed with garlic, onion, baby carrots, tomatoes, and ginger), Beets (beets and potatoes with onion, garlic, and ginger, Misr (black lentil sauce with onions, garlic, and ginger). All veggie dishes are $7.00 and $8.00 each
I ended up ordering the combo dish since it was a good price ($11.50) and you can a taste of every veggie dish on the menu. The combo dish only gave me “sampler” size of all of these dishes but I always pick this one because I love all of the dishes. I cannot decide which is my favourite, maybe the Shiro Wat but it’s difficult for me to decide since they’re all so good. I find most Ethiopian dishes highly spicy and I know there is a lot of garlic and ginger in the dishes. I find the dishes possess the flavour and texture of an Indian curry but i could be wrong.Ethiopian food is a dream come true for both vegetarian and meat eaters alike.
The “other” side of the menu offers cooked beef, chicken, and lamb dishes as well as kifto (steak tartar). Meta dishes are between $7.50-$11.00 each. Faline and Daniel ordered kifto (steak tartar) topped with hot pepper sauce, chopped collared greens (spinach) , and home made cheese for 2 people ($14.00 each). They loved it.
Other meat dishes include Alitcha Wat (lean beef in a mild curry sauce), Doro Alitcha (chicken marinated in a light sauce with garlic, ginger, tumeric, and butter), Sauteed Chicken Breast (with rosemary, onions, tomatoes, and butter), Doro Wat (tender chicken marinated in Berber red pepper sauce topped with a hard boled egg), Key Wat (strips of Canadian beef braised Ethiopian style in a red pepper sauce), Tibs (cubes of Canadian Beef fried with onions, garlic, rosemary, and other herbs with hot peppers), and Lamb (cubes of Canadian Lamb fried with onions, garlic, rosemary, and other exotic herbs and topped with hot peppers).
For every dish, we are served this sourdough flatbread called Injera where the savoury dishes lay atop. The best part of devouring Ethiopian food is the lack of cutlery. We literally scoop the various dishes with pieces of injera. Think of the injera as both the dipping bread and the utensil at the same time. It’s great when the food stains and drenches the injera, then we eat the moist dough off the circular aluminum dish. I prefered not mixing the meat and veggie dishes so I asked for my own plate for my veggie dishes.
For dessert, we all ordered deep-fried bananas with honey and sesame seeds ($3.50 each) The dish was delicious and it certainly did not taste oily or greasy. We also shared a pot of traditional Ethiopian coffee ($5.00 each). The tradition when serving Ethiopian coffee is to serve it in a clay kettle with incense. The coffee is thick and has a muddy look to it. It’s quite strong in flavour but as soon as I added sugar, I was a happy camper.
Our bill came out to over $80.00 for 3 people, including our mains, 3 desserts ($10-$12), soft drinks ($2 each), and traditional Ethiopian coffee for 3 ($15). Although it was expensive i would definitely go back, despite the very casual restaurant environment, I could not help but notice the clientele had the edge of “I’m too cool for you”. A very slight artsy-fartsy yuppie Parkdale pretentiousness. It did not bother me that much but you could feel the vibe of the Parkdale artists who have that very slight attitude and edge to them. Partially cool and partially pretentious.
Large tables can accomodate big groups at Addis Ababa. A great place to bring a date or bring a large groups of friends. One page of many veggie options, including many bean and vegetable dishes. Expect live entertainment (there’s a piano at the back of the restaurant) on Friday and Saturday. Open Tuesday to Sunday 5:00pm-1:00am. Accepts all cards.