For the best in Ethiopian food in New York City, try one of the places listed below. Once there, relax into the atmosphere, make sure your hands are clean (after all, you’ll be using them, rather than utensils, to eat), and order a combo platter, to ensure you get to try lots of flavors and preparations. Above all, enjoy! By Jessica Allen.
After building up a cult following for their injera, which they sold out of their apartment for many years, Daniel and Frehiwot Reta opened Abyssinia Ethiopian Restaurant in Harlem. The decor maintains the restaurant’s homey start, as does the service: if you don’t like something, you’ll probably be pressed about what went wrong. No matter, because you’ll likely like everything. Simply put, this restaurant serves some of the freshest, tastiest vegetables and sour, soft injera we’ve ever had the pleasure of scooping up with our paws.
For going on twenty years, Awash has offered its take on Ethiopia’s specialties to residents of Morningside Heights and, thanks to locations in Brooklyn and Downtown Manhattan, just about everywhere else. Cinnamon seems to be the star of Awash’s show, appearing in such varied dishes as sambusas (similar to samosas, stuffed with lentils and potatoes) and shiro (chickpeas with onions and tomatoes). Don’t let the sometimes slow service frustrate you; instead, sit back and embrace a different pace.
A very popular pop-up and Smorgasburg vendor has become, perhaps not surprisingly, one of Bushwick’s most popular restaurants. Unlike the other Ethiopian restaurants on this list, Bunna is not only vegetarian but vegan. (In fact, it’s New York’s first vegan Ethiopian joint.) And it is worth every single second of the wait. If you’re lucky, you can witness the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony held in the center of the kind-of-dark space. If you’re not into caffeine, get a glass of the honey wine known as tej instead.
There’s something about Ghenet Brooklyn. It’s across the street from a gas station, on a rather busy street near where Park Slope meets Gowanus, within (almost) shouting distance of the Barclays Center, and yet . . . it always puts us in the mood. We like the original decor, including dark tables and honey-colored booths and colorful serving trays. We like its version of berbere, the Ethiopian spice mixture that flavors many meats and vegetables. We like the low lighting and soft music. What can we say? We just really like it here.
Harlem has no shortage of Ethiopian places, as a quick scan of this list will demonstrate. In true capitalist form, they inspire one another to better and better heights. Zoma, close to Morningside Park and Central Park, is perhaps more stylish than its counterparts, offering modern, minimalist lines and stark prints on the walls. But decor means nothing if the food isn’t good, which is why Zoma draws crowds. The housemade Harlem Raging Bull (vodka, Red Bull, and tequila, with lime) draws its share of fans too.