Addis Ababa Restaurant

1184 Queen Street West 
(416) 538-0059

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.

Paradise Ethiopian and Canadian Cuisine

950 Danforth Ave
(416) 416-406-6342

Located right at Danforth between Jones and Donlands, this cosy Ethiopian restaurant serves up traditional Ethiopian dishes, most under $10.00. Wendy and I went for dinner last Friday night and we had quite the adventure.

First of all, it was quite amusing to see such a small menu (only 2 pages) that consisted of one chicken dish and mostly lamb dishes and one popular vegetarian dish. The whole menu was shameful since it was full of atrocious spelling errors. How funny and incredibly embarassing.

The other thing that we found out right away was that our waitress did not understand any English. She tried though, but she could not fool us. She did smile a lot and say “yes” very often but we could have asked her if we could bomb the restaurant and she’d smile and say YES. We could have asked her to give us all the cash in her register and Wendy and I could be sure she’s say YES. We expected the ambiance to be tacky and cheesy but it was not. With authentic acrylic paintings of typical scenes in Ethiopia and calm African-inspired music, the setting seemed perfect but was made slightly tacky by the big screen TV at the corner of the restaurant that featured basketball. How tacky!

Our dishes were served within 3 minutes so i suspect some microwaving was involved. I ordered the vegetarian special for $10- which included a split pea curry type dish, a spicy orange lentil curry, a cabbage and potato curry, a spinach type curry, salad, and tasteless salt-free feta cheese. When we asked the waitress what this mysterious dairy product was, she said “yogourt” and we looked at her in a weird way.

Her permanent smile remained locked and we asked her to check to see if it was Feta cheese. I was certain it was salt free feta cheese. Afterall, it’s on the Danforth and the Danforth is known as Greektown. When she came back, she told us it was feta cheese–according to Wendy pretty awful feta cheese.
Wendy ordered the Doro Wat, a dark chicken in a dark curry with a hard boiled egg in the middle ($10). Wendy was not impressed since she wanted chicken breast and not chicken leg and she hates eggs of all types.

Our food was fresh, healthy, tasty, and very filling. All dishes were served in injera bread, thin flat sour dough sheets that capture the food since cutlery was not used in Ethiopian cuisine. We ordered drinks Mango nectar ($2) and soda ($2). All prices include tax so our bill came out to $22 including drinks. Not bad. The only problem was when we received our bill, we got two bills, one with the prices before tax and one bill with the prices after tax. Both bills came out to be $28.14 but we added up the prices after tax to be $22.00
What a frustrating experience.

The waitress could not communicate with us as her English skills lacked considerably. She also could not add as our bill came out to a completely different price than expected. What a funny and frustrating experience. Wendy and I agree that we’ll probably not go back to Paradise Ethiopian and Canadian cuisine. Although the food was good, the service was out of the ordinary and the staff were slightly aloof and spaced out. I found that the waitress who did not speak any English made it difficult to convey what we wanted. Even in multicultural Toronto, basic English communications skills is somewhat important, isn’t it?