If you are looking for the perfect balance of family-style dining and exotic taste combinations, Ethiopian cuisine is a great option. Dishes are ordered individually, but served on a platter covered with injera bread. For utensils, more of the spongy injera bread is served to aid you in grasping and scooping up your meal. Ethiopian restaurants can cater to both meat eaters and vegetarians and the vegetarian dishes are some of the more accessible options for newcomers. These Atlanta restaurants offer the best of Ethiopian food and experience.
Hours: Mon to Thurs – 9 a.m. to 12 a.m., Fri to Sun – 9 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Repeatedly ranked as the Best Ethiopian Food in Atlanta by Creative Loafing readers and other websites, you can expect the best quality Ethiopian staple dishes at Desta. Authentic options include Gomen (collards or spinach greens), Misir (a lentil dish), Kitfo (stewed meat dish) and Dulet. The servers and informative menu will make a newbie’s experience less daunting. In addition, this location has several options that cater to the more American palate including breakfast, sandwich, and pasta dishes and less spicy entrees. This location also sets itself apart with a slightly more upscale décor and consistently high quality of ingredients.
Hours: Daily—Noon to 12 a.m.
Always the bridesmaid but never the bride, Queen of Sheba consistently offers a quality dining experience but without the praise of neighbor and competitor Desta Ethiopian Kitchen. This restaurant excels not only quality foods but also a more authentic dining atmosphere including low-seated stool table options. You can also experience an Ethiopian Coffee ceremony. Catering to large parties, Queen of Sheba offers its special combo for groups of five with a variety of meat and vegetable selections or the veggie combo with 11 selections of vegetable dishes.
Hours: Daily – 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.
One of the few Ethiopian restaurants located outside of the Emory area in Atlanta, Cottage Ethiopian Restaurant treasures the history of the food it serves. Servers are knowledgeable and helpful with choices but you should also expect a leisurely paced meal. Cottage Ethiopian Restaurant offers mini (for one) combination platters featuring lamb or chicken stewed in spicy hot sauce along with 2 vegetarian sides. Catering to the midtown business clientele, this restaurant occasionally offers drink specials and free appetizers between the hours of 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. You can call or visit the website for more information as well as available coupons.READ MORE: 'Rides To Remember' For Pediatric Cancer Returns To Atlanta Motorsports Park On Sept. 18
Hours: Mon to Thurs – 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Fri to Sun – 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.
For an experience similar to eating in the kitchen of your friend’s Ethiopian mom, visit Ledet Ethiopian. The veggie combo is great for sharing and includes staples Misir and Gomen as well as Ater Kik (split chick peas) and Yesom Ayib (a tofu based dish). Meat eaters will enjoy the Tibs, cubed pieces of meat served with onion, tomatoes and jalapenos. More adventurous eaters should try the Kitfo, which is similar to beef tartar sautéed in herbed butter. Late nights feature live Ethiopian music.
Related: Best Restaurants for Vegetarians
Hours: Mon – 12 p.m. to 1 a.m., Tues – 12 p.m. – 1 p.m., 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., Wed – 1 p.m. to 11 p.m., Thurs – 11 a.m. to 12 p.m., 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Fri to Sun – 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Not only a quality restaurant, there is also a bar and lounge area which was redecorated in 2011. The bar features both Tej (honey wine) and several Ethiopian beers. One flat screen TV is provided at the bar for your viewing pleasure. A sambusa, similar to a Chinese fried dumpling or an Indian samosa, is the perfect Ethiopian bar food and is particularly yummy here. If you need more than an appetizer, you can complement the drinks with several traditional dishes as well as some dishes, which are severed directly from a hot skillet.
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Sebrina Bush is a freelance writer in Atlanta. She is covering Food & Drink. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.