Denver has a thriving restaurant industry because the people of the 303 are not afraid to try out new things. As a result, unique and uncommon food trends are able to get the kickstart that it needs. One fine example of this is the rise of restaurants that specialize in Ethiopian fare.
If you have not tried it, here are some of the best Ethiopian restaurants in Denver where you can get your introduction.
When it comes to Ethiopian fare, the first restaurant in mind is the Nile. The meat and vegetable are usually slow cooked so that it absorbs and retains most of its deep flavors. Dishes are eaten with Injera, a soft bread that can serve as a sort of tortilla or a sop for soups and dishes with rich sauce. The best part is eating with your hands as there are no utensils. Recommended dishes include the Lamb tibs, which is lamb sautéed with onions, tomatoes, and jalapeno peppers. Yogen tibs is the pork rib version of the same dish. Vegetarians can order yetimatim fitfit, a salad that consists of Injera, onions, tomatoes, parsley, and green peppers. You also get great value because for just about $10-15, you can probably feed 2-3 people.
1951 S. Havana St., Aurora, CO 720) 748-0239
Owner Yarid Teklu likes to cook the dishes himself because he feels that each dish needs to be created perfectly. That says enough about the care given to each dish served in Habesha. Add the fact that they only use authentic Ethiopian spices for the dish and you know you have a winner. The restaurant serves great meat-chicken, lamb, beef- dishes but their vegetarian dishes are what really make them stand out. Their vegetarian combo-spinach, cabbage, green beans, and peas slow-cooked in different spices-is for everyone and not only for vegetarians. Cap your meal with beer or coffee, to which the staff will gladly share with you.
5707 E Colfax Ave Denver CO 303.377.1521
The dishes served by Africana are not only authentic but traditional as well. Like the other joints, Africana offers deeply flavored meat and vegetable combinations. The spicy lamb is very tender after being slow-cooked and you can really relish the flavors that it was cooked in. This is a great place for both the uninitiated and the adventurous types of eaters.
5091 E Colfax Ave. Denver, CO 303.320.9515
An Ethiopian coffee shop that serves coffee from where it originated? I am so in. My tip is to take advantage of coupons from deal sites that pop from time to time. One time, there was a deal for private Ethiopian coffee ceremony for two. Aside from the Ethiopian coffee, the shop also offers your standard coffee and teas. The best part aside from the beverage, though, is the place itself. There is an assortment of beautiful photos strewn across the café and it just gives off this relaxing vibe. It doesn’t hurt that they probably have the most polite and friendly staff.
1710 E 25th Ave. Denver, CO 720.550.7440
An intimate lunch or dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant along an unassuming strip mall. The rays of sunshine lighting the place during the day and candles illuminating it at night. There are even nooks where you can have more privacy. Feast on grilled meats and lentil stews. Get berbere-infused dishes that are rich in flavor after being slow-cooked. Eat with your hands along with a basket of Injera. All these from an unassuming joint in the middle of a strip mall.
1422 Poplar St. Denver, CO 303.370.1370
Axum is a very important city in Ethiopian culture and its restaurant namesake is as important to the rich Ethiopian community in Denver. Aside from the mouth-watering meat and veggie dishes served with Injera, which are traditionally eaten by hand and is best shared with friends and families, it is also a hub of Ethiopian culture. To know what I am talking about, you should come after the sun sets and you will see how it transforms to some sort of dance party for the community.
5501 E. Colfax Ave.Denver, CO 303.329.6139