Unlike some cities with dedicated Little Ethiopia neighborhoods, New York’s Ethiopian restaurants are fairly spread out. Just to name a few, there are some incredible places in Harlem (like Benyam, Abyssinia, and Tsion Cafe), an old favorite of ours in Bushwick, and a wandering food truck called Makina Cafe making a combination of Eritrean and Ethiopian cuisine.
But if you spend a lot of time in downtown Manhattan, you may already know that options for Ethiopian food are significantly limited. Even still, get to know these great restaurants below 34th Street you can rely on for shiro wot, flaky sambusa, spongy-sour injera, and chicken falling off the bone. Whether you’re looking for in-person dining or takeout, check out these three excellent Ethiopian restaurants.
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Every entree at this Ethiopian spot on Avenue B near Tompkins Square Park comes with two vegetable sides. While we recognize that you’re an adult and can do what you want, we can’t stress enough that one of those sides should be the shiro wot: Haile’s chickpea mash that coats everything it meets with garlicky creaminess. We like to plop a thick layer of shiro wot on each torn piece of injera, and then top it with other delicious things like tart red beets or tender dark meat chicken that’s been slow cooked in onions, berbere, and spiced clarified butter. If we’re with a group, stick to the combination platters. Otherwise, our solo go-to order at Haile is the spicy beef tibs with shiro wot and green beans on the side. Stop by Haile for covered outdoor dining, or place a takeout or delivery order online.
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As much as we enjoy the stews at this Greenwich Village spot, it’s their sour, vinegary-tasting injera that stands out. The strong flavor of Meskerem’s injera improves every bite it’s involved in, especially with red lentils, berbere-spiced doro wot, and minced collards. Just know that Meskerem is only open for takeout and delivery right now, and you can place your order online or over the phone for pickup at 212-777-8111
Awash makes our favorite sambusa we’ve had in NYC – theirs is a crispy triangle filled with ground beef and onions that’s been fried to golden perfection. You can get these sambusas at either of Awash’s two locations in Manhattan – one on the UWS and one in the East Village. Other than the appetizers, Awash has a more extensive range of lamb, fish, beef, chicken, and tofu options than most Ethiopian restaurants in the city. They also serve some crunchy steamed collards that have the ideal level of acid to go with all the spicy and savory flavors in the rest of the meal. If you don’t want to choose one dish, try the meat sampler combo with your choice of four Ethiopian stews for $20, or the vegetable sampler with your choice of five stews for the same price. The East Village location is open for in-person dining outside and inside, but they also offer takeout and delivery which happens to travel really well.
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