On a recent Sunday evening, we had a â€œhands-onâ€ experience with a great local Ethiopian spot in the Spruce Hill section of Philadelphia. Located at the corner of 45th and Locust Streets, Abyssinia is a hangout for both Ethiopian expatriates and locals alike. Itsâ€™ casual atmosphere makes this restaurant and bar an ideal place for a relaxed meal with friends… The downstairs dining room is ideal for larger groups, while the funky upstairs bar is best suited for smaller groups; the main bar on the first floor is pretty generic can be skipped.
Most of our group was familiar with Ethiopian food, but this was my first experience and I really enjoyed itâ€¦ Ethiopian cuisine features a variety of spicy vegetable and meat dishes often served as a thick stew or Wat. This stew is normally served on top of Injera bread, which is made from a traditional grain called tef and resembles a cross between a tortilla and a pancake (whatever you call them, they were delicious!). In addition, Ethiopian meals are customarily eaten without utensils, which makes eating with a group much more fun.
Once we were seated, we found that the menu offered a broad range of dishes that would appeal to just about anyone. In fact, itâ€™s fortunate that Ethiopian food lends itself to vegetarian cooking, since we had a couple of vegetarians in the group. After some debate, we chose a broad range of dishes including the Meat Combination (beef, lamb & chicken), the Vegetarian Combination (lentils, string beans, split peas, Collard greens, etcâ€¦), as well as several other dishes.
The specific items we had included:Â
- Qey Wot â€“ Lamb stew with berbere sauce & spices
- Yebeg Alicha â€“ Lamb stew
- Doro Wot â€“ Chicken stew with berbere sauce & hardboiled egg
- A few other items I can’t remember
- Yeâ€™mesir Wot â€“ Split lentils in berbere sauce w/basil, garlic, onions & herbs
- Yeâ€™atikilt Wot â€“ Sauteed String beans, Carrots & Potatoes stew with onion, tomato, ginger, Â garlic andÂ tumeric
- Shiro Wot â€“ Split pea stew
- Yeâ€™gomen Wot â€“ Sauteed Collard greens w/onion, tomato, garlic & olive oil
- Ye â€˜kik Alicha â€“ Yellow split pea stew with herbs & onion
- Azifa â€“ Whole brown lentils blended with mustard, onion spices & jalapeno
A la Cart Items:Â
- Yebeg Qey Wot – Lamb stew with berbere sauce & spices
- Yebeg Tibs – Marinated lamb with jalapeno & Rosemary
- Yedoro Tibs – Marinated chicken with peppers, onions, garlic, tomato & RosemaryÂ
When our meal arrived, all of the items were served on a single, traditional platter layered with Injera bread. As we dug in, our veggie friends were thankful that they are only â€œpseudo veggies,â€ since all of the meat and vegetarian dishes were served on the same platter. Regardless, the food was excellent and the communal dining experience was especially fun. Among our favorite dishes were the Yeâ€™gomen Wot including sautÃ©ed Collard Greens with a tart finish and the strongly flavored Yebeg Tibs, a spicy lamb dish.
Overall, we had a very good experience. While the food was excellent, the service was fair. Our waitress was friendly and helpful, but she was stretched a bit thin being the only server on duty. The result was slower than average service. Regardless, the consensus is that we will definitely return; in fact, I almost returned to perform more â€œresearchâ€ for this postâ€¦
Abyssinia is located at 229 S. 45th St. Philadelphia, PA. Telephone (215) 387-2424. Dinner is served until 1:30 am, so Nightowls take note!
[Tags]Philadelphia, West Philly, Abyssinia, Ethiopian Food, Podcast[/Tags]