12 Best Ethiopian Food Restaurants & Trucks in NYC
Everyone says that the United States is a great melting pot, and while that’s true, there’s no city that is more blended than New York City.
With over 8 million people living there, you’d probably find someone from every corner of the world.
Because of this, the City is teeming with tons of dining options from all over the world.
While you might not have the chance to travel to the east African country of Ethiopia, you can still enjoy their cuisine in the Big Apple.
From Harlem to Brooklyn, here are 12 of the best Ethiopian restaurants and food trucks in New York City.
You’ll find Haile Bistro nestled in the East Village.
Located on Avenue B, the small bistro is a staple in the area.
There are quite a few things that make Haile Bistro worth trying out.
One, their classic Ethiopian dishes are all worth trying.
Some of their appetizers include the popular sambusa, which is a savory pastry filled with green pepper, jalapeno, onion, and either lentils or beef.
Even so, their entree menu is where you can really dive into what Ethiopian cuisine has to offer.
With both vegetarian and meat options, you might be ready to try the Ethiopian specialty, Doro Wot – a spicy chicken stew.
Awash Ethiopian Restaurant
When it comes to Ethiopian food in the City, Awash might be one of the most popular ones.
What can you expect after they’ve been mentioned in publications like the New York Times, GQ, and Travel + Leisure.
The restaurant has been listed by CBS New York as one of “NYC’s 5 Best Ethiopian Restaurants” and the accolades don’t end there.
And here’s why.
Awash has been serving customers authentic Ethiopian cuisine since 1994 when their first restaurant opened.
Originally located in Manhattan, the restaurant now has three locations, two in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn.
With dine-in and delivery options, you can enjoy a variety of Ethiopian cuisine.
And if you’re a picky eater, like me, and have never had lamb, they have three popular dishes that just might be the perfect introduction into the delicacy.
Queen of Sheba
If you’re near Times Square, hop over to 10th and 46th to try out Queen of Sheba.
Another NYC restaurant that has received tons of great press, they’ve been mentioned by both Forbes and Fox News.
Owned by Philipos Mengistu, he sends a disclaimer that all those willing to try Ethiopian food must remain open minded.
Oh, and don’t forget that you probably won’t need any utensils for your meal either!
And while the food is delicious, I have to admit that I might be more interested in their spirits.
Not only do they have Ethiopian Honey Wine that they say pairs extra well with their spicy dishes.
Plus, who doesn’t love sangria?
Queen of Sheba also makes their own Ethiopian-style sangria that you can try at their daily happy hour that begins at 4PM.
Meskeram Ethiopian Cuisine
If you’re passing through or near Greenwich Village, consider trying Meskeram Ethiopian Cuisine.
Located on Macdougal, it’s the perfect place to catch an early lunch or a late night bite.
One of the best things about this restaurant is that you’re sure to get a bang for your buck.
With well-priced dishes, you’re looking at less than $6 for an appetizer.
Like many other Ethiopian restaurants, you’ll find the classic “Sambosa” along with other traditional dishes like Azefa, a dish of chopped onion, green peppers, and lentils, and Timatim Fitfit, an injera based dish.
While you’ll find dessert and drinks missing from their menu, they make up for it with an extensive array of entrees.
Also including the classic Doro Wat, their menu also include Shro Wat, a vegetarian alternative, Yebeg Wat, a lamb alternative, and Tibs Wat, a beef alternative.
From the simplest of dishes to the more complex, you won’t spend more than $20 on a single dish here.
While most of the Ethiopian restaurants in the City are located in Manhattan, you’re in luck if you’re in search of delicious Ethiopian eats in Brooklyn.
Ghenet Brooklyn is located downtown not too far from Prospect Heights.
Although the restaurant doesn’t have their own website, you can get a feel for their food, vibes, and opinion of customers from apps like Yelp.
And for those of you who are staying in, you don’t have to go out to experience Ghenet Brookly’s Ethiopian cuisine.
Available for delivery on DoorDash, you can have your meal delivered to you.
With an extremely extensive menu, you might be wondering where to even begin.
Luckily for you, they do have a list of their most popular items.
Unsurprisingly, you’ll find sambusa on this list.
This restaurant’s favorites also include: kategna – toasted injera coated with berbere, beg tibs – tender lamb morsels marinated in wine and sauteed, and atkelt wett – a cabbage, potato, and carrot dish cooked in a mild caramelized onion sauce.
Keeping in line with providing their diners options, they also have a nice variety of vegan and vegetarian dishes.
Keeping our sites in Brooklyn, Bunna Cafe is another Ethiopian restaurant located in Bushwick.
While sambusa and doro wot might inarguably be the most popular Ethiopian dishes, you won’t find them at Bunna Cafe.
While meat eaters could still find amazing options on their menu, Bunna Cafe is for the vegan and vegetarian eaters.
Their entire menu is plant-based.
Their menu is heavily based on making combination plates for a variety of dishes that include gomen, misir wot, and shiro.
While other restaurants might lack in the dessert and drinks department, Bunna Cafe doesn’t.
For dessert, you can find baklava, but their drink menu seems even more extensive than their food options.
With a series of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, you can choose between over 20 drink options.
They have a series of Ethiopian style teas and coffees, but truth be told, I’d be more interested in their custom cocktails like their Ethiopian wines and margaritas.
We’re back in Manhattan, but this time we’re taking it uptown to Benyam Cuisine in Harlem.
A family-owned restaurant near Hamilton Heights, their menu is extensive and easy based on your dining preferences.
With the classic sambusa on their list of appetizers, avocado lovers might be drooling to try their avocado salad which is mixed with tomatoes, onions, and jalapenos.
Now, the rest of the menu is where it is easily broken down based on your tastes.
With multiple options for vegetarian, beef, lamb, and fish eaters, their menu definitely leans more on the vegetarian and beef side.
And last, but not least, who doesn’t love a little vocabulary lesson with their meal.
Their menu also gives you some useful tips into some common words you might find on an Ethiopian menu.
With injera, berbere, mitmita, and kibbeh on the list, you’ll soon know the basics to dozens of classic Ethiopian dishes.
If you look on a map, you’ll find that Ethiopia and Eritrea are bordering countries in Africa.
The next restaurant on our list, Massawa, is named for the former capital of Eritrea.
Located in the Morningside Heights section of Manhattan, the restaurant offers both Eritrean and Ethiopian cuisine.
Established in 1988 by Almaz Ghebrezgabher and Amanuel Tekeste, Massawa claims to be the city’s oldest African restaurant.
Recently renovated in 2019, the restaurant expanded to allow more customers to enjoy their delicious meals.
Open for lunch and dinner, their menu includes vegan, seafood, lamb, beef, and chicken options.
We’re traveling back to uptown to Zoma in central Harlem.
While many of the restaurants on this list are for quick, casual dining, you’d head to Zoma if you want to experience their “essence of abyssinia” and a luxury dining experience.
Founded in 2005, they focus on fresh ingredients and braising meals to help create a friendly and modern atmosphere for their customers.
With injera, coffee, and tea at the heart of Ethiopian cuisine, you’ll find these items on their menu in addition to Ethiopia’s popular honey wine, also called “Tej.”
Plus, if you’re around for weekends, they often have lunch specials where you can get a significant percentage off.
Tsion Cafe Bar and Restaurant
Staying in Harlem, we’re now at 763 St. Nick to enjoy the Ethiopian cuisine at Tsion Cafe.
If you love the opportunity to experience multiple cultures through food, this is the restaurant for you.
Tsion Cafe Bar and Restaurant is not only home to delicious Ethiopian entres, but they also include a variety of Mediterranean inspired dishes as well.
But that’s not even where the fusion stops.
Doro Tibs is a popular Ethiopian dish, but what about jollof rice?
If you love the spicy rice native to Nigeria and Ghana, you can enjoy that as one of their popular entrees.
And if you really love Nigerian cuisine, feel free to check out ThatSister’s post on the best traditional Nigerian dishes, and you can bet that jollof rice is on it.
Plus, for those of you trying to stay healthy, they have tons of delicious alternatives that include a quinoa salad or a smoked salmon and avocado salad.
While the menu is always a great reason to come, you might find yourself staying for the entire experience.
With different events scheduled throughout the week, you can come enjoy wine tastings, live music, art, and more.
It might’ve seemed like Midtown Manhattan was dominating this list in the beginning, but Abyssinia Restaurant is another reason to travel uptown to Harlem.
Located in Central Harlem on W 135th St., Abyssinia offers great take out and catering options.
While I’d have to admit that their website could use some spicing up, they clearly make up for it with their menu.
You’d find all your classic Ethiopian dishes in an array of meat and meatless options.
Not to mention, they have a lunch special available for 4.5 hours every Tuesday – Friday where their entree dishes are available for only $12.
Makina Cafe – An Ethiopian Food Truck
Last, but not least, we have the only food truck on our list with Makina Cafe.
There are a few things that make this dining option special.
Not only is it the first Ethiopian food truck in New York City, but as of 2020, it’s still the only Ethiopian food truck in the City.
Makina Cafe was founded by Eden G. Egziabher.
Although she was born in Ethiopia, her parents are of Eritrean descent.
Even so, she grew up with both influences in her life alongside Italian culture.
Ironically enough, the word “makina,” means “truck” in all three of the countries’ languages.
With breakfast and lunch options, you have to be on the lookout for where the truck will be posted up each day.
Sunday through Saturday, the location of the truck changes.
Fortunately for you, their social media does let their followers know their daily location.
And there’s a reason their followers are literally following them around the city.
Their menu is made easy so you can order your food and keep on the move.
Meals come in the form of four steps.
Step one requires choosing a base (injera or yellow rice).
Step two is where you would pick your protein.
They have chicken tibs, beef tibs, or vegetable options.
Step three is when you’d pick for vegetables which include collard greens, spicy lentil stew, or more.
And last, but not least, the final step is picking your sauce.
With tons of amazing press from The New York Times, New York Post, and ABC News, this Ethiopian food truck deserves all the accolades.
Best Ethiopian Restaurants In New York City Conclusion
Ethiopian cuisine might not be as popular in New York City as a few other cultures, but the city is growing in options for traditional Ethiopian food in a cosmopolitan setting.
Many of us don’t get the chance to travel as much as we’d like to experience the culture of other countries.
Even so, many countries come alive in their cuisine and Ethiopia is one of them.
While you might not be able to travel to the country, these restaurant and food truck options in New York City will give you the opportunity to experience authentic Ethiopian food.