You’ll find many Ethiopian dining options on the North Side of Chicago, particularly in the neighborhoods of Uptown and Rogers Park. In fact, a 20 minute drive down Broadway will get you to about 85% of the locations. I’ve always raved about Demera (my favorite), but this weekend a friend and I decided to try something new. We found a wonderful Groupon deal for Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant, and paid $26 for a 5 course dinner for 2.
The meal started with Tomato Selata (Ethiopian style salad; onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and sliced jalapeños served with house dressing) and Yesiga sambusas (crispy hand-wrapped pastry shells stuffed with a blend of minced beef, onions, peppers and herbs). Word from the wise – those jalapeños are nothing to play with. I ate one whole and it immediately cleared my sinus headache.
After the appetizer, we got a combination platter of various meats and vegetables. For the veggies there was Yemser Azifah (cooked whole Lentil salad seasoned with ginger, garlic, white pepper, lemon and mustard seed), Okra Stew (in a mild sauce of onions and fresh garlic), Ethiopic Signature Shiro (vegetarian stew made from chickpea flour mixed with berbere and tomato and garlic), and Dinich Wot (curried potato simmered with red onions, garlic, jalapeno, fresh herbs & spices). For the meat we got Lalibela Special Tibs (Cubed tender beef marinated with a special sauce sautéed with onion, rosemary, tomato, jalapeño and fresh garlic) and Doro Tibs (Boneless pieces of chicken sautéed in seasoned butter, awaze sauce, hot peppers, fresh tomato and onions). If you’re unfamiliar, the plate of rolled dough on the right is Injera (white leavened bread made from teff flour, similar to a crepe) which you use to wrap/pick up the food and eat with.
The food was absolutely perfect, but I’d be completely remiss if I didn’t mention how much I loved the art in the restaurant. There were drawings, paintings, and posters on every inch of the walls, even on the tables, and adorning the chairs. Lalibela has definitely have accomplished a gratifying balance of wonderful cuisine and aesthetics.