Ethiopian restaurants in New York
Yep, the folks behind Bunna Cafe are serious about their coffee. The cozy, eclectically styled Bushwick outpost is centered around a massive hearth dedicated to performing the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony (called Bunna, appropriately) and ornate, decorative coffee pots line a hive-like network of built-in wall shelving. Aside from fantastic coffee, Bunna also serves a complete menu of vegan stews and sauces, from spiced beets and creamy lentils to juicy crimini mushrooms sautéed in an aromatic mix of berbere, rosemary, garlic, ginger and onion. And Bunna’s curious selection of coffee and tea-based cocktails as well as Ethiopian wine and beer are sure to keep the party going long after your morning cup of joe.
Though a bit pricier than some of the more casual Ethiopian joints uptown, Injera’s lounge-y, intimate atmosphere, attentive, professional staff and whimsically hip décor (read: bright green leather couches, hanging African masks, zebra print wallpaper) are right in line with its increasingly chic West Village surroundings. The food, on the other hand, is primarily traditional, with finely tuned feel-good favorites like Kaye Siir (a hearty, garlicky combination of beets, carrots and potatoes) and Beg Alicha (melt-in-your-mouth lamb stew peppered with onion, garlic, ginger and a hint of turmeric) topping the list. For something a bit outside the box, try the Awaze Calamari, a sizzling portion of pan-seared calamari seasoned with onions, tomatoes, serrano peppers and fiery Ethiopian awaze sauce.
While the hipster-friendly whitewashed brick walls, colorful local artwork and reclaimed wood furniture might initially peak the interest of trendy passersby, this candlelit Fort Greene bistro’s menu of classically prepared and elegantly presented Ethiopian dishes ensures they’ll keep coming back for more. Everything is delicious, though the Minchet Abish Wett (finely chopped beef stewed in a rich, spicy sauce), the Tikil Gomen (bitter green cabbage doused in garlic and ginger) and the oft praised Engudai Tibs (baby portabella mushrooms stir-fried with thyme, crisp red onion and a heavy hand of ginger) are the true standouts. To top it off, a varied selection of Ethiopian beer and a quality wine list only add to Bati’s date night appeal.
For Cobble Hill faithfuls, Awash has long been a dependable neighborhood go-to fit for date nights and family dinners alike. A beautiful pressed tin ceiling, original whitewashed moldings, mason jar glasses and warm, hanging Edison bulbs deliver an aesthetically pleasing Brooklyn vibe, while giant, street-facing windows are perfect for leisurely Court Street people watching. The menu revolves around well executed Ethiopia basics like Yebeg Alicha (slow-cooked lamb in a rich, buttery stew) and Tibs Wat (tender, fragrant beef strips simmered in a succulent berbere sauce) as well as a heaping handful of vegan options guaranteed to satisfy even the most carnivorous of appetites. And the full bar, lit from above by those same hip bulbs, is an excellent place to sip on a cold Meta Premium or signature Awash cocktail while waiting for your table.
With its generic drop ceiling and beige floor tiles, Abyssinia could pass for just about any casual ethnic restaurant in New York City. Yet once inside, it’s easy to see—or rather, smell—just what sets this beloved Harlem establishment apart from the many colorful awnings jutting out over Frederick Douglass Boulevard. Wafts of berbere, ginger, garlic and pepper pour out of the small rear kitchen, widening the eyes and enticing the appetites of neighborhood folks, nostalgic transplants and newcomers alike. While the classic meat dishes are wonderful, the vegetarian options steal the show, featuring traditional standbys like spicy garlic string beans, roasted cabbage and curried split peas as well as lesser-known numbers like Yetimatim Fitfit, an addictive mash-up of tomatoes, hot peppers, onions and chunks of soft, tart injera bread, dressed in lemon juice and olive oil. Don’t forget to pick up an extra package of freshly baked injera on your way out, as all other utensils will pale in comparison after you try it.
Another upstanding uptown choice, this vibrantly painted and surprisingly spacious Sugar Hill spot is a charming neighborhood cafe by day and a popular dinner destination by night. The menu is brimming with tasty homemade pastries, sweet, nutty coffee, inventive Ethiopian cuisine infused with fresh Mediterranean touches and an impressive array of imported beer and wine. Weekend brunch is always a special treat at Tsion, where you’ll find locals easing their hangovers with massive plates of Addis Eggs, an Ethiopian-style scramble stock full of onions, tomatoes, jalapeños and fresh peppers resting atop a sheet of pleasantly spongy house-made injera.
On any given night, this cozy, dimly lit Morningside Heights restaurant is packed to the gills with hungry customers, some traveling from far out of their way for a taste of Massawa’s soulful, home-cooked and time-honored Eritrean and Ethiopian recipes. To start, try the Ful, a flavorful blend of pureed fava beans, berbere, tomatoes, jalapeños and fresh yogurt served with warm bread for dipping—it’s the perfect shareable appetizer. While Massawa’s traditional dishes are worth the trip alone, their house specialties, like the Duba B'siga (tender bits of roasted pumpkin sautéed with spicy beef), are unparalleled experiences for anyone’s taste buds. Pair that with an Asmara Lager or glass of chilled Tej honey wine, and you’re in for a real journey.
A cozy, family-run corner restaurant tucked away in Park Slope, Ghenet has been impressing Brooklynites with spot-on Ethiopian cuisine and friendly service since 2008. The combination platters are the way to go, where $35.95 buys you and a pal a mix of two hearty meat dishes (try the Doro Wet, seasoned dark meat chicken doused in a peppery sauce) and four different richly spiced veggies served atop some of the lightest, fluffiest injera in town. Add in their wide range of beverages—we’re talking a full bar, along with three Ethiopian beers and locally produced mead—and you’re looking at one of the best low-key date night spots in all the Slope.
With an exposed brick wall, framed folk art and hanging light fixtures, this Alphabet City spot’s simple, design-conscious aesthetic evokes a relaxed, romantic atmosphere throughout the narrow, dimly lit space. The food, of course, goes even further, melding traditional flavors with skillful execution and New World sensibilities to create mouth-watering platters ofLega Tibs (juicy marinated lamb sautéed in onions, spiced butter and jalapeños), savory root vegetables and soft, gingery collard greens served alongside rolls of delicate, chewy injera. Don’t forget to order ample amounts of decanted honey wine or a few bottles of Ethiopian St. George Lager to wash it all down.
While there’s no shortage of quality Ethiopian joints in Harlem, Zoma stands out both for its sun-drenched ambiance and diverse, generously portioned menu. Indulge in the Doro Wett, oh-so-tender chunks of chicken stewed with onions, ginger and a heaping dose of fiery berbere spice mix, and then cool it down with stir fried string beans, lemony pureed chickpeas, root vegetables simmered in a mild tomato sauce and folds of pillowy injera. Feeling adventurous? Spring for the Zoma Assa, a whole trout, de-boned and fried Ethiopian-style with tons of delicious spices, tempered, of course, with the requisite glass of sweet honey wine.
Find all 5 star restaurants
Over the years, Time Out New York has awarded the coveted five stars to just a handful of NYC restaurants, who have all achieved that damn-near-perfect balance of cuisine, decor and innovation. Among this select group are fine-dining titans, long-standing hotel restaurants and international imports running the gamut from Mexican to Korean cuisines.