New Ethiopian Restaurant in Phoenix Is in Back of a Convenience Store Behind a Curtain (Stay With Me on This One, Folks)

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions. Share a few photos, some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).

Restaurant: Ethiopian Famous Restaurant & Coffee Location: 905 North 16th Street (in the back of the convenience store, behind the curtain) Open For: About a month. Eats: Ethiopian Price Point: $8-$15

Looks like there's (finally) a solution for Phoenix folks who may be tired of trekking to Tempe for Ethiopian food. (Thanks to the reader who pointed out the place to me last week.)

Ethiopian Famous Restaurant & Coffee opened about a month ago courtesy of Abebech Ejersa, who came to the United States four years ago from Ethiopia. Located at 16th and Roosevelt streets in Phoenix in a small strip mall, the restaurant is located at the back of a convenience store behind a curtain.

That may sound a bit strange, but stay with me on this one folks. The initial oddity pays off and my experience was (thankfully) much more positive than at another Ethiopian restaurant you may be familiar with.

Ejersa's small menu consists of meat and vegetarian dishes she used to serve at her restaurant in Ethiopia. On my visit, I asked if she would make me a selection of her favorites and received deliciousness in the form of a wat combo (a platter containing a sampling of Ethiopian spicy vegetable and meat dishes in the form of thick stews, served atop injera, or sourdough flatbread).

There were lentils in hot sauce, yellow split peas, spicy cabbage, tender grilled beef and peppers, the classic Ethiopian dish Minchetabesh (made of finely chopped beef in a spicy sauce with a boiled egg), and homemade cottage cheese for a cool down.

If you're lucky -- or simply ask for it -- Ejersa or one of her friendly team will bring you a small bowl of the Ethiopian spice mitmita, which elicits a slow, blooming heat on whatever it's lightly sprinkled on.

And don't pass up the opportunity to experience an Ethiopian coffee ceremony. This ritualized form of making and drinking coffee is commonplace in Ethiopian cultures and consists of roasting the beans, letting guests take in the aroma, grinding the beans, and then pouring the coffee into small, handle-less cups. Poured over sugar to offset its strength (cream and milk are not used), it is delicious and accompanied by the burning of incense and a serving of tasty popcorn.

The interior, like the location, is a bit strange, but the unintentional kitsch gives the place its charm. The room is bright with purple walls, Ethiopian art and posters, and furniture cobbled together from other restaurants.

Good food, good people, and finally a place in Phoenix for Ethiopian food. I can't wait to go back.

Ethiopian Famous Restaurant & Coffee 905 North 16th Street 602-275-5663 Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., but call first (I was told they don't open until 1 p.m. on Sunday)

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.