What to Order at an Ethiopian Restaurant: 10 Dishes

Knowing what to order at an Ethiopian restaurant can mean the difference between a terrible meal and a real culinary adventure. Tacky 1980s jokes notwithstanding, Ethiopian cuisine is rich, delicious and complex. Fans of Indian food will find the experience familiar, though the tastes will be a new delight.

  1. Sambusa Fried dough filled with a mix of spicy vegetables or meat. Sort of like a pot sticker with attitude.
  2. Injera A spongy flatbread tough enough to use as your eating utensil and so porous on one side that it’s perfect for sopping up sauces. Ethiopians use it to scoop up the entrée the same way you would use naan in an Indian restaurant.
  3. Wot A thick, spicy stew with the same consistency as curry but with a different taste. You can get misir (lentil) wot, doro (chicken) wot, yebeg (lamb) wot or tibs (beef) wot. Though not traditionally Ethiopian, some restaurants also offer shrimp wot.
  4. Tibs Cubed meat and onions in a spicy sauce. The meat is diced small enough to pick up with your injera. Tibs comes in the same varieties as wot, plus inquday tibs, which is a vegetarian dish of diced mushrooms.
  5. Alitcha A puree of chickpeas not unlike hummus. You can order alitcha with meats by ordering doro alitcha, for example.
  6. Tire Siga Essentially beef sushi. This is raw beef cut finely and it's not nearly as gross as you’re thinking.
  7. Awaze The spice upgrade for courageous diners. Add this paste of peppers, garlic and ginger to add even more fire to your Ethiopian adventure.
  8. Ayib Ethopia’s answer to cottage cheese. Use it to cool down the fires burning your mouth, throat and mucous membranes after using too much awaze.
  9. Tej Honey wine. Looks like a standard white, but tastes a lot like mead. Absolutely a must for any Ethiopian restaurant excursion.
  10. Coffee The Ethiopians invented coffee. Finish your meal by ordering traditional coffee service instead of dessert. Even non-coffee drinkers will appreciate these brews.
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