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Injera rolled out across a plate with heaps of stews and meats piled on top.
Feast on Ethiopian fare across the city.
Dereje/Shutterstock

10 Exceptional Ethiopian Restaurants in NYC

Superb vegetable stews, spicy tibs, and rolls upon rolls of injera

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Feast on Ethiopian fare across the city.
| Dereje/Shutterstock

Some of the first Ethiopian restaurants opened in New York in the late 1970s, such as Sheba, a downtown Manhattan spot started by Yeworkwoha Ephrem in 1979. They were owned and operated by Ethiopians and Eritreans who immigrated to the United States following the political unrest caused by the removal of Ethiopia’s emperor Haile Selassie in 1974.

Since then, especially over the past decade, Ethiopian cuisine has become an indelible part of New York’s restaurant scene. It pairs injera, a porous flatbread resembling a pancake, made with a fermented grain called teff, with protein and or vegetable stews. Ethiopian restaurants have always been ahead of the curve on dietary needs by regularly providing numerous vegan and gluten-free choices, while still serving centuries-old dishes like strips of fried beef called tibs and diced raw meat called kitfo.

Below are 10 of our favorite Ethiopian restaurants in New York right now.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

Mazuba Kapambwe-Mizzi is a freelance travel writer whose work has appeared in Afar, Conde Nast Traveler, Travel and Leisure and more. She lives between Lusaka, Zambia and New York City.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Tsion Cafe

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With a brick wall filled with images of Ethiopia and art made by local artists, booth-style seating and a bar, Tsion Cafe in Harlem’s Sugar Hill area has plenty of charm. The menu draws on the owner Beejhy Barhany’s multicultural upbringing which included a stint in Israel. Must-try dishes include the injera chips appetizer, which is served with a shiro dip, which is made from ground chickpeas and spices. The sega tibs made from filet mignon will appeal to any meat enthusiast, while the mushroom tibs will satisfy vegetarians. Enjoy meals with live music, which is played on select dates. (Check their Instagram feed to keep up with the schedule.) 

The exterior of a restaurant with a red banner reading “Tsion Cafe” and a sandwich board on the sidewalk out front.
Tsion Cafe in Harlem.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

At this Harlem restaurant, all meals apart from the mushroom tibs are served with two options of vegetable sides. A standout item is the asa tibs, which is made from diced tilapia fish instead of the usual beef or chicken. There is also a large vegetarian menu, and, for those looking for the opposite, a dish called kitfo, or seasoned prime beef that can be served raw or slightly cooked depending on preference.

Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant

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Although Lalibela, another Harlem staple of Ethiopian cuisine, underwent a renovation in 2020, it still serves up a classic menu. Try the Lalibela sampler, a combination of chicken stew (doro wot), beef (tibs wot), and vegetable dishes including kik alicha (split peas), cabbage, and gomen (collard greens). Pair your meal with Ethiopian beer; options include Habesha, St George, or Harar.

Queen of Sheba

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Queen of Sheba — known as one of the most popular Ethiopian restaurants in New York —  is known for its affordable lunch specials featuring awaze tibs, which are strips of lamb leg meat marinated in awaze sauce and sauteed with onions and jalapenos. Pair your meal with the restaurant’s signature cocktails like the Addis manhattan or the Mahr spritzer, whose key ingredient is Tej, a honey wine from Ethiopia that is also served on its own.   

Makina Cafe

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Eden Egziabher is the founder of Makina, one of the first food trucks in New York dedicated to Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine, and she is doing away with the idea that injera is solely meant to be consumed in a sit-down restaurant. Located in Long Island City, the food truck’s menu is limited, but features classic dishes like beef and chicken tibs, where the meat is cubed and marinated with spices, and served in a bowl. There is also a special Makina sauce made from jalapenos that can be added to any dish, and veggie options.

A person, Eden Gebre Egziabher, is pictured leaning over the counter of a yellow food truck.
Eden Egziabher at her food truck.
Makina Cafe

Meskerem

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Located in the West Village, Meskerem features crispy fried sambusas, which are savory pastries filled with either beef, chicken, or vegetables. The owners pride themselves on vegetarian dishes such as misir alecha, made of lentils, garlic, and ginger, and misir wot, a lentil stew made spicy with the addition of a berbere rub with chili, cinnamon, and other spices.

A subterranean restaurant storefront with a blue banner and stairs leading up to the sidewalk outside.
Meskerem’s West Village storefront.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Haile Bistro

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Located in the East Village, Haile Bistro bills itself as “traditional cuisine with ambiance.” Start with buticha, chickpeas that are roasted, powdered, and mixed with olive oil, onions and jalapenos. Main meals are best enjoyed as combos, either with the meat and vegetarian option or the fully vegetarian option that offers a choice of five dishes.   

A white dish filled with vegetables and chopped-up pieces of brown injera.
Timatim fitfit from Haile Bistro.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Open since 1994, Awash has three locations in New York. But arguably its best outpost is in Cobble Hill. Try the gursha appetizer, which features injera rolls coated with lentils and spices. The samplers provide the best way to enjoy different dishes, as they include two meat and two vegetable options, or five dishes in the case of the vegetable sampler. Also try the ayibe, a mild cottage cheese that is listed as a side dish.

A woman sits at a table eating injera and stew on a plate in front of her.
The writer enjoying a meal at Awash.
Mazuba Kapambwe/Eater NY

Located on the border of Park Slope and Gowanus, Ghenet has been a mainstay since 2007. Its menu features a large number of vegan options including gomen (collard greens cooked with spices and onions) and classic meat options like doro wat (a chicken stew cooked in spicy sauce and served with a boiled egg). Before digging into the main meals, try the kategna appetizer, which involves pieces of toasted injera coated with berbere (a spice blend made from a mixture of cinnamon, ginger, paprika, chilli and garlic powder) served with fresh tuna, beef, or cheese.

Ras Plant Based

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Located in Crown Heights, Ras is billed as the first organic, locally sourced, plant-based, and eco-friendly Ethiopian restaurant in New York. Their lunch menu features various bowls named after areas in Ethiopia’s capital city Addis Ababa, including the Bole bowl which has an avocado salad, cabbage, chickpeas, and collards. The dinner menu includes platters like difin missir, which includes brown lentils and fenugreek. 

Tsion Cafe

The exterior of a restaurant with a red banner reading “Tsion Cafe” and a sandwich board on the sidewalk out front.
Tsion Cafe in Harlem.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

With a brick wall filled with images of Ethiopia and art made by local artists, booth-style seating and a bar, Tsion Cafe in Harlem’s Sugar Hill area has plenty of charm. The menu draws on the owner Beejhy Barhany’s multicultural upbringing which included a stint in Israel. Must-try dishes include the injera chips appetizer, which is served with a shiro dip, which is made from ground chickpeas and spices. The sega tibs made from filet mignon will appeal to any meat enthusiast, while the mushroom tibs will satisfy vegetarians. Enjoy meals with live music, which is played on select dates. (Check their Instagram feed to keep up with the schedule.) 

The exterior of a restaurant with a red banner reading “Tsion Cafe” and a sandwich board on the sidewalk out front.
Tsion Cafe in Harlem.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Benyam

At this Harlem restaurant, all meals apart from the mushroom tibs are served with two options of vegetable sides. A standout item is the asa tibs, which is made from diced tilapia fish instead of the usual beef or chicken. There is also a large vegetarian menu, and, for those looking for the opposite, a dish called kitfo, or seasoned prime beef that can be served raw or slightly cooked depending on preference.

Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant

Although Lalibela, another Harlem staple of Ethiopian cuisine, underwent a renovation in 2020, it still serves up a classic menu. Try the Lalibela sampler, a combination of chicken stew (doro wot), beef (tibs wot), and vegetable dishes including kik alicha (split peas), cabbage, and gomen (collard greens). Pair your meal with Ethiopian beer; options include Habesha, St George, or Harar.

Queen of Sheba

Queen of Sheba — known as one of the most popular Ethiopian restaurants in New York —  is known for its affordable lunch specials featuring awaze tibs, which are strips of lamb leg meat marinated in awaze sauce and sauteed with onions and jalapenos. Pair your meal with the restaurant’s signature cocktails like the Addis manhattan or the Mahr spritzer, whose key ingredient is Tej, a honey wine from Ethiopia that is also served on its own.   

Makina Cafe

A person, Eden Gebre Egziabher, is pictured leaning over the counter of a yellow food truck.
Eden Egziabher at her food truck.
Makina Cafe

Eden Egziabher is the founder of Makina, one of the first food trucks in New York dedicated to Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine, and she is doing away with the idea that injera is solely meant to be consumed in a sit-down restaurant. Located in Long Island City, the food truck’s menu is limited, but features classic dishes like beef and chicken tibs, where the meat is cubed and marinated with spices, and served in a bowl. There is also a special Makina sauce made from jalapenos that can be added to any dish, and veggie options.

A person, Eden Gebre Egziabher, is pictured leaning over the counter of a yellow food truck.
Eden Egziabher at her food truck.
Makina Cafe

Meskerem

A subterranean restaurant storefront with a blue banner and stairs leading up to the sidewalk outside.
Meskerem’s West Village storefront.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Located in the West Village, Meskerem features crispy fried sambusas, which are savory pastries filled with either beef, chicken, or vegetables. The owners pride themselves on vegetarian dishes such as misir alecha, made of lentils, garlic, and ginger, and misir wot, a lentil stew made spicy with the addition of a berbere rub with chili, cinnamon, and other spices.

A subterranean restaurant storefront with a blue banner and stairs leading up to the sidewalk outside.
Meskerem’s West Village storefront.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Haile Bistro

A white dish filled with vegetables and chopped-up pieces of brown injera.
Timatim fitfit from Haile Bistro.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Located in the East Village, Haile Bistro bills itself as “traditional cuisine with ambiance.” Start with buticha, chickpeas that are roasted, powdered, and mixed with olive oil, onions and jalapenos. Main meals are best enjoyed as combos, either with the meat and vegetarian option or the fully vegetarian option that offers a choice of five dishes.   

A white dish filled with vegetables and chopped-up pieces of brown injera.
Timatim fitfit from Haile Bistro.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Awash

A woman sits at a table eating injera and stew on a plate in front of her.
The writer enjoying a meal at Awash.
Mazuba Kapambwe/Eater NY

Open since 1994, Awash has three locations in New York. But arguably its best outpost is in Cobble Hill. Try the gursha appetizer, which features injera rolls coated with lentils and spices. The samplers provide the best way to enjoy different dishes, as they include two meat and two vegetable options, or five dishes in the case of the vegetable sampler. Also try the ayibe, a mild cottage cheese that is listed as a side dish.

A woman sits at a table eating injera and stew on a plate in front of her.
The writer enjoying a meal at Awash.
Mazuba Kapambwe/Eater NY

Ghenet

Located on the border of Park Slope and Gowanus, Ghenet has been a mainstay since 2007. Its menu features a large number of vegan options including gomen (collard greens cooked with spices and onions) and classic meat options like doro wat (a chicken stew cooked in spicy sauce and served with a boiled egg). Before digging into the main meals, try the kategna appetizer, which involves pieces of toasted injera coated with berbere (a spice blend made from a mixture of cinnamon, ginger, paprika, chilli and garlic powder) served with fresh tuna, beef, or cheese.

Ras Plant Based

Located in Crown Heights, Ras is billed as the first organic, locally sourced, plant-based, and eco-friendly Ethiopian restaurant in New York. Their lunch menu features various bowls named after areas in Ethiopia’s capital city Addis Ababa, including the Bole bowl which has an avocado salad, cabbage, chickpeas, and collards. The dinner menu includes platters like difin missir, which includes brown lentils and fenugreek. 

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