Spend some time in the Central District or South Seattle, and you are likely to run into a handful of Ethiopian restaurants. And through careful analysis (a.k.a. eating a truly unhinged amount of injera and wot), we bring you this list of the best spots in town. Sure, you can order a vegetable combo at all of them and have the time of your life, but we also hope to gently guide you towards more foods that don’t get a lot of airtime, like kitfo, dulet, and quanta firfir. From spots that perform traditional coffee ceremonies to institutions known for phenomenal lentils, these are the best Ethiopian restaurants in Seattle.
Note: Not all Ethiopian restaurants serve gluten-free injera, but some of them will if you call ahead.
While most places tend to excel in the vegetable department, Star Coffee in SeaTac lets their meat dishes shine brightest. Case in point: the lega tibs, cubes of mildly sauced steak cooked with fresh vegetables, aromatics, and a spiced clarified butter called kibbeh. Their kitfo is a standout too, whether you get it raw or with just a kiss of heat. But their shiro, misir, and other meatless dishes also deserve your attention. Like the name suggests, they serve really good coffee, but you could also pop by the bar and grab a decent cocktail or glass of wine.
Breakfast is the best meal when it comes to Ethiopian food, but it can be hard to find. Massawa is where to go for an exceptional one, fueled by the best quanta firfir—a tomatoey stew of dried beef—in the city. For a complete Ethiopian breakfast, get here around 11am and ask very nicely for ga’at, a thick porridge that’s eaten with berbere and kibbeh. If they don’t have ga'at, get some spicy scrambled eggs known as enkulal firfir, or foul, which is casually the greatest way to eat fava beans. Are you going to have an easy time finding parking here? Probably not, but it’s worth it for a morning meal.
We could write a novel about the Delish special vegetable combo, and most of the chapters would be declaring our love for the fasolia, complete with green beans and potatoes in a smoky sauce, as well as their stewed beets. Many table settings here feature the traditional mesob, a colorful round table woven from sweetgrass, which encourages communal eating—the whole concept is treated like its own ingredient in Ethiopian cuisine. Most of the fun is reaching around the circle to take bites of different flavors, and the combos are perfect for that, whether you’re dining solo or with a group. Just don’t forget a round of Ethiopian wine or beer. Or both.
Set in a brightly decorated space with lime-colored walls, Jebena Cafe in Lake City is one of those solid places where you can expect the food to be great and the service even better. Our favorite dish is the green lamb, tender with plenty of spices, herbs, and chopped collards, which pairs really well with their curried cabbage. For something with a little more variety, go with the Jebena Combination, which contains their best meat and plant-based dishes on one platter. And if you need some Ethiopian pantry staples, like berbere and other spices, Jebena has you covered.
You can easily spend an entire afternoon at East African Imports perusing their spices, groceries, homewares, and other goods imported directly from Ethiopia. But you should stay for lunch, because there’s a restaurant hidden in the back past the store aisles. It’s one of the few Ethiopian spots where you can get incredible dipping sauces like awaze, a spicy berbere paste thinned out with areke liquor, and senafitch which is a mustard sort of similar to horseradish. These dips are traditionally served with tre siga, a.k.a. tender cuts of raw beef, but you can (and should) ask for them on the side of any dish. Dunk some tibs in the senafitch and wrap them in injera for a tangy, acidic bite.
Kezira does many things well, but our favorites are the mesir wot, spicy split lentils that you can order on its own or as part of a combo, and shiro, a thick stew of spiced chickpea flour. They also serve excellent appetizers centered around injera, the best one being the kategna, with rich olive oil and berbere rubbed on top. Vegetables are key here, so if you’re in the mood for a colorful plate with some vegan dishes, you should definitely try this Columbia City spot.
Café Selam succeeds in a neighborhood already full of Ethiopian restaurants because it's the most reliable and comforting of the bunch. The dining room is almost always packed with regulars, which is a good sign to begin with, and the food holds up. Most of their vegetable dishes are made to order, and their tibs always nail the perfect ratio of spice to onion to garlic. Their takeout operation is also a well-oiled machine, so if the restaurant’s full, just bring the stuff home to enjoy on your couch.
Zagol sets itself apart by offering a traditional coffee ceremony, complete with an in-house roast, three different strengths of brew served in ceramic mugs called sini, burning incense, and popcorn for snacking. Their menu is a delicious split between vegetable and meat combos, and—if you’re up for it (and really like lentils)—we recommend ordering all three misir dishes. Between the spicy red misir wot, alicha misir in its mild turmeric sauce, and garlicky difin misir, it’s a party for legume enthusiasts. Zagol is also ideal if you’re in the mood for seafood, and with three different fish dishes on the menu, your best bet is the asa gulash, a fish stew with ginger, onions, garlic, and berbere. Whatever you choose, take the time to end your meal with the coffee ceremony, smoking beans and all.
Agelgil is an institution, and their meat-forward dishes absolutely stand the test of time—like berbere-kicked key wot and collard greens stewed with short ribs. The dining room is huge, and it usually only gets crowded later in the night, so this is a perfect group destination for an earlier dinner. And don’t be shy about taking your leftovers to work the next day—”agelgil” means lunchbox in Ethiopia's spoken language of Amharic.
In Amharic, the word “enat” translates to “mother,” and Enat really leans into the concept of serving the kind of food your mom would make. If it’s your first time trying Ethiopian food, start with a vegetable combo or just order atkilt wot for a satisfying mix of cabbage, potatoes, and carrots in a garlicky turmeric rub. If you're still hungry, go with the doro wot, a spicy chicken stew that gets its deep flavor from slow-caramelized onions, a generous heap of berbere, and a lot of cooking time. Doro wot is best enjoyed with friends, so invite some people you like for a meal in the perpetually busy dining room and tell them to come hungry.