The first time I tried Ethiopian food, it was at Addis Abeba in Paris: a wonderful place to sample the distinctive cuisine of the East African country, right in the heart of the city. Located between the Opera Garnier and Pigalle/Montmartre, the casual restaurant and cafe serves delicious, delicately seasoned and beautifully presented traditional dishes that you’re usually encouraged to enjoy communally– and without any Western utensils. With service that may seem unusually warm for the French capital, this restaurant is ideal for a night out with friends or a significant other, since the whole point is to share in the whole culinary experience. Here are just a few reasons why I recommend it if you’re after one of the best Ethiopian restaurants in Paris– not to mention an adventurous and memorable dining experience.
- Delicious, authentic Ethiopian dishes served on communal platters
- Sharing a meal with friends or a date is a stimulating experience
- Friendly, warm service
- Convivial, laid-back atmosphere
- Good vegetarian options
- A bit overpriced, despite the novelty
- The service tends to be a bit slow: this isn’t an ideal place for a before-show dinner
A Convivial Outing
Always on the lookout for new culinary experiences in Paris, a friend savvier than I had zero trouble convincing me and a mutual colleague to come try out what she said was her favorite Ethiopian restaurant in the city. Settling into a cozy corner table amid traditional wooden sculptures and hand-woven tablecloths in off-white, green and red, we quickly opted for the vegetarian menu, to be shared on the aforementioned communal platter.
The warm, affable waiter was very happy to make suggestions and indulge our curious questions. While the order was a little slow to arrive, it was well worth the wait, and it helped that none of us were in any particular rush.
The waiter soon emerged with a giant platter for three, on which around six or seven different dishes were artfully arranged, with a garlic-laden eggplant sauce in the center. Injera– spongy Ethiopian flatbread with a slightly tangy taste and tiny little holes along the surface– both complements each of the dishes and serves as an utensil. We relished in the delicately spiced, savory fare– slightly sour but pleasingly fragrant lentils; lightly cooked green beans and carrots with a ; spinach; salads, and other all-vegetarian delicacies. I didn’t ask, but I’m pretty certain that many of the dishes were vegan (and the entire meal might have been, excluding the egg.) Vegans should enquire ahead to avoid disappointment, but it’s likely that they can find good things to eat here as well. (Note: I unwisely didn’t take any of my own photos, so the ones posted here were taken by others and don’t perfectly represent what we had that night).
The endeavor was (surprisingly) unmessy, and there was something convivial and fun about having to negotiate the shared platter. Luckily, there were no significant tussles over spoonfuls of lentils or corners of the delicious, spongy crepe. Our kindergarten teachers would likely have been proud of our sharing abilities.
We did ask for more of the rather addictive, porous flatbread at some point, which the waiter was happy to provide. But we promptly realized our eyes were too big for our already-full bellies.
The waiter teased us a bit about not finishing the entire platter, which is, our in-the know friend informed us afterwards, a major faux pas in Ethiopian culture. Unfortunately, so is asking for leftovers to be wrapped up and taken away, in this town, leaving us in the embarrassing position of wasting some truly delicious food. In lieu of dessert (optioned included fresh mango and traditional pastries), we polished off a pleasant evening with digestion-aiding spiced tea, served in small glasses.
Just a note to the carnivores out there: While I’ll always encourage meat eaters to occasionally enjoy a vegetarian meal, you won’t be deprived of meat here if you must have it: there were plenty of platters on the menu that included carnivorous fare, included shredded beef, chicken and lamb served in a fragrant red sauce.
Practical Information & Getting There
- Address: 56 rue Notre Dame de Lorette, 9th arrondissement
- Metro: St Georges, Pigalle or Blanche (Lines 2, 12)
- Telephone: +33 (0)1 42 80 06 78
- Serving: Lunch and dinner, à la carte or with fixed menu options. Several vegetarian options are available.
- Price range: Around 15-30 Euros per person excluding drinks (approx. $19-$37)
- Payment methods: Cash, credit and debit cards accepted (Visa, Mastercard)
- Dress code: None/casual
- Read reviews from other travellers at TripAdvisor
Other Places for Good Ethiopian Food in Paris:
I haven’t tried either of these places yet, but two restaurants that get rave reviews is Ethiopia (89 rue du Chemin Vert; Metro Saint-Maur or Pere-Lachaise), and La Reine de Saba (78 Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, Metro Couronnes or Menilmontant). That both of these are located in the 11th arrondissement, close to my former apartment, makes me even more regretful that I’ve yet to test them. Check back for separate reviews later.
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