Expand your world-food horizons at Abyssinia and Addis


‍The Ethiopian lunch sampler on injera at Addis.


To gain real insight into other people, walk a mile in their moccasins. This simple, old wisdom still feels fresh, maybe more than ever these days. Here’s another saying, not so famous, because I just made it up: To get to know friends from around the world, sit down to a meal of their food. While you’re there, talk to the owners and workers if you can, and thank them for making our town a more diverse and interesting place.

This is easy for me. I’ve always been excited by the opportunity to try food from all over the world and to get to know the people who make it. I recommend it to you, too. Here’s a good way to start: Drop by either — or both — of the downtown Ethiopian restaurants where I’ve enjoyed lunch recently — Addis Grill on the north side of the business district and Abyssinia Authentic Ethiopian toward downtown’s southern end.

(Abyssinia, by the way, is named after the ancient moniker for this East African nation; Addis is named after Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.)

We stumbled into Abyssinia’s simply-decorated rooms for a late Saturday lunch. Tired, hot and sweaty after participating in a pro-refugee and anti-Immigration and Customs Enforcement demonstration downtown, we appreciated the cool, dim scene with white curtains drawn over the front windows. Abyssinia more than satisfied, with tasty Ethiopian fare and friendly service. We missed the $8.95 weekday lunch buffet, but I didn’t mind, since I’m just as happy to have my order made fresh in the kitchen.

There’s plenty to choose from on Abyssinia’s oversize menu, starting with eight appetizers that range from $3 (for jalapeños stuffed with onions and tomatoes in a tart lemon dressing) to $7 (for beyaynetu, an appetizer sampler platter). You can ask for the 27 main dishes by number in case you’re not up for pronouncing “timatim fitfit” ($9.95), a traditional dish of injera bread cut into spicy tomato sauce. Prices go up from there to a max of $15.95 (for girgiro, lamb cubes pan-fried with tomatoes, onions and jalapeños). There’s full alcohol service including short beer and wine lists and cocktails.

Addis Grill fills a good-size, bright storefront with dark-red walls. Light wood booths and tables are tightly fitted to accommodate a capacity crowd. There’s no buffet; management takes pride in fashioning your meal to order. The menu, with both Ethiopian and Mediterranean fare, is posted on the wall near the counter. Beer, wine and liquor are served.

The lunch menu features 15 appetizers and salads from $6.25 (for hummus) to $11 (for a sampler platter); four Ethiopian plates are $8.95 to $10. All the lunch specials are vegetarian or vegan. Carnivores needn’t fear, though, as there are two dozen more options, including chicken sandwiches and plenty of Ethiopian and Mediterranean plates featuring beef, lamb, chicken and fish, ranging from $8.50 to $19.95.


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