With joints like Suya Hut and Afrikiko, Houston has a rich, dynamic West African culture and culinary scene. So much so that No Passport Required featured the local West African experience in an hour-long episode this past January. But considering Africa is a continent of 54 countries and 1.2 billion people, there're plenty more cultures and cuisines to explore. To help you on your journey during the age of COVID, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite Ethiopian spots for takeout and delivery in the Bayou City.
Over the past two decades Blue Nile has grown from being the go-to spot for home cooking for in-the-know Ethiopian expats to one of the most popular restaurants in the city. Although communal eating in its beautiful dining room is certainly one of Blue Nile’s charms, its doro wat (chicken stew with hard-boiled eggs) and dulet (lamb tripe, lamb liver, and ground beef simmered in red chiles, cloves, and ginger) taste just as good in the comfort of your own home, especially when you "plate" your order atop a spongy sheath of the restaurant’s injera bread. Pro tip: indulge in a “family” meal pack via pick-up or delivery to try a little bit of everything.
Bahel doubles as a grocery and restaurant, making it the perfect one-stop shop for curious home cooks looking to replicate those dishes from the restaurant kitchen. No in-house dining is available at this time, which means you don’t even have to think of an excuse to get pick-up or delivery (i.e., change out of sweatpants). Because Bahel is one of the few Ethiopian joints in town with a sizable all-day breakfast menu, we recommend having your own “brinner” party (of one) with an order of its enukal fiifir (scrambled eggs with tomato and pepper), chechebsa (a savory sort of bread pudding served warm and made with flatbread and lots of butter), and kinche (boiled cracked wheat in milk). Bahel also prides itself on its coffee, and for good reason, so bring home a pot of its fresh brew to fuel your post-supper Netflix binge.
Because almost everything is terrific at Lucy Ethiopian, the delivery window may be closed by the time you finally decide your menu, so here’s some help: Start with some sambusa (a triangular deep-fried savory pastry stuffed with green peppers, onions, and your choice of lentils or beef) before tucking into Lucy’s yedoro tibs (tender chicken strips tossed with buttery sautéed onions and pepper), yemisir watt (red lentils in pepper), and gomen watt (spicy stewed collard greens). And for that stubborn member of your household who refuses to try anything new (how’d they end up in your quarantine pod, anyway?), Lucy Ethiopian even offers a burger topped with lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise with awaze (sauce made from spices and red wine or mead).
Okay, so you will finally have to put on pants because Sheger doesn’t do delivery, but we promise it’s worth your while if only to try its refreshing kifto, a rare beef dish similar to tartare and seasoned with chile peppers, cardamom, and cloves. Also recommended: yebeg alicha, a sunny-colored lamb stew laced heavily with garlic and onions. Extra injera is also a must for scooping up mouthfuls of the aforementioned stew, as you will find yourself going in for fourth and fifth helpings.