Denver’s Ethiopian Scene
The Ethiopian Restaurant is a no-frills cash-only spot that is also a Denver staple, having been in business since 1985. They were voted the best Ethiopian cuisine in Denver in both 2016 and 2017, so we decided this would be the restaurant we would try amongst all of the Ethiopian restaurant options throughout the city for our culinary culture, Ethiopian-themed meal. It didn’t disappoint!
The vibrant yellow, red and green stripes that decorate the outside of The Ethiopian Restaurant make it hard to miss when traveling down Colfax Ave. Once inside the blacked out front entrance doors (look for the illuminated open sign) it becomes clear that the restaurant holds true to it’s no-frills internet description. Ethiopian-themed images adorn the wall across from the payment counter, but little else suggests a “fine dining” experience, as you walk to the dining room on the other side of the Ethiopian-imaged wall. The dining room is modestly set with simple white linens and dim lighting. The service, as our group arrives, is casual and far from rushed. Waters and other ordered drinks appeared intermittently, and finally, once we all had arrived, the owner/waiter/chef approached, ready to take our order.
Finally, nearly two hours after arriving, our food arrives and any pangs of hanger immediately disappear as we dive into the huge plates of Injera bread soaked in a quickly incoherent collection of lentils, eggs, meat, sauces and spices.
Ethiopian immigrants have had a sizable presence in the Denver Metro area since the 1970s. In 2016, they numbered near 30,000 in total population, a number that has surely grown over the last three years. Now, almost 50 years later, the rest of us in Denver are blessed with a plethora of Ethiopian restaurants and cultural options to give us a taste of this otherwise distant culture.
Arguably the largest collection of Ethiopian restaurants in Denver lie on East Colfax Ave, between Yosemite St. and Franklin St. (if traveling East to West). Of note specifically, are:
Queen of Sheeba with Ethiopian honey wine AND Ethiopian cooking classes and a small collection of Ethiopian cooking products
Mesob Ethiopian Restaurant with menu options catering to both vegans and meat lovers & happy hour from 5-7 on weekdays.
Axum, that has an extensive menu and is open until 11pm.
Africana Restaurant and Cafe, a Denver staple that’s been around since 1980 and has a number of imported Ethiopian drinks and an active events calendar that rotates local bands and DJs on the restaurant’s stage.
Looking for other ways to engage with Denver’s vibrant and prevalent Ethiopian culture?
Check out these links if you’re feeling adventurous and want to try cooking some cuisine on your own:
And visit these links to stay in the now about yearly Ethiopian food and culture festivals:
Taste of Ethiopia – “The premier annual grand celebration event to celebrate and share Ethiopian culture and heritage with Colorado!”
Living outside the main downtown Denver area?
Arada Ethiopian Restaurant is located south of central downtown on Sante Fe,
The Nile Ethiopian Restaurant is east of Denver in Aurora, a proclaimed favorite amongst another collection of Ethiopian eateries.