5 Ethiopian Restaurants Spicing up the Denver (Colorado) Dining Scene
Denver is a great city to enjoy some authentic Ethiopian cuisine. It is estimated that the Mile High is home approximately 30,000 people hailing from the African nation. Despite the large population and the many purveyors of truly remarkable cuisine — some having been in business for more than 20 years — many of these establishments have still managed to slip under the radar.
The apparent differences as to how the meal is consumed can be daunting for the uninitiated. When eaten in the traditional fashion, a meal is consumed not with silverware, but with the delicious foundation of the food at large, injera bread. Injera is spongy sourdough-like flatbread that lines the bottom of the plate on which the meal is presented, with more rolled up and served on the side. Diners tear off pieces to scoop up the various meat and vegetable stews served side by side in one massive and enticing spread. The process is simple, satisfying and delicious. If the lack of utensils scares you, do yourself a favor and try it anyway.
The restaurants all share a fair amount of traditional menu items, each offering platters that allow guests to sample a variety of dishes at once. Berbere, turmeric and a wide array of other spices contribute to making the meal a filling and flavorful feast for meat eaters and vegetarians alike. The food is delicious, healthy and affordable — the locations below deserve recognition for crafting some of the best dining Denver has to offer.
Queen of Sheba
Address: 7225 East Colfax Ave., Denver 303-399-9442.
Several miles East of Colorado Boulevard, beneath a decaying and nearly unreadable sign lies one of Colfax’s tastiest locales, Queen of Sheba. The space is petite, the decorations sparse and tasteful. Hung on one wall is a map of Africa with a star marked over Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia — the city from which the owner emigrated years ago. The usual suspects are all present — lentils, cabbage, potatoes, collard greens, chicken, beef and lamb served mild to spicy. The meat combo for two ($26.99) is a filling combination of seasoned chicken, key yesiga wot (a medium hot stewed beef dish), key tibbs (beef shish kabob with jalapeños, onions, tomato and berbere), yatakelt wot (a stew of cabbage, potatoes and carrots) and miser wot (spicy red lentils). To wash it all down wine, beer and tej ($3.99 a glass $15.99 a bottle), a customary Ethiopian honey wine, are all available.
The Ethiopian Restaurant
Address: 2816 East Colfax Ave., Denver. 303-322-5939.
Like the Queen of Sheba, the Ethiopian Restaurant (yes, that is the name) is a small affair — a few people carefully prepare the food with the pacing of a home kitchen. When the meal is ready, the proprietor will bring out a platter lined with injera, accompanied by another tray topped with each tantalizing item in its own dish. He then ceremoniously pours each stew onto the plate with a method and grace that indicate a great deal of appreciation for the history and cultural significance of the cuisine.