Queen of Sheba features traditional Ethiopian in modern setting


Queen of Sheba teaches you what your mother wouldn't: How to eat with your fingers. Its place-settings feature no silverware -- unless you ask.

"If you are unfamiliar with the cuisine, we'll show you how to eat it," says Semeneh Meshesha, who purchased the restaurant with a partner from its previous owners in May. (It opened last November in the corner of a Food 4 Less strip mall at 4001 S. Decatur Blvd.)

"For Ethiopian food, using your hand is the best way," he says.

Queen of Sheba's traditional dishes -- meant to be shared -- are evenly split between vegetarian and meat. They're mostly butter-sauteed and spicy, and all served on 16-inch round injera, a pizzalike bread made from an ancient grain called teff.

"You will have never tasted this before, because it's special," promises Meshesha, who hails from the Ethiopian city of Addis Ababa. "We do it in our own traditional way, which makes the food very tasty."

According to Meshesha, 95 percent of his American customers either have eaten Ethiopian food before or acclimate immediately. Some of them, however, "will ask for a fork."

The restaurant -- decorated, surprisingly, in a modern American style -- seats 125. Hours are from 11 a.m. to 4 a.m. daily. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights, Ethiopian music is performed live. On Fridays, it's reggae; on Saturdays, Caribbean. Reservations are recommended but not required.

Signature dish: Doro wet (chicken), $9

Starters: Lamb stew, $9; tibs (sauteed beef), $9; kitfo (beef), $8.99

Salad: Ethiopian salad, $4

Entrees: Vegi combo, $10; meat combo, $14

Desserts: Baklava, $2

Information: 489-8300

By COREY LEVITAN

 

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