Welcome to Ethiopian Famous Restaurant and Cafe
This exceptional Ethiopian restaurant in East Phoenix features enticing scents, bold flavors, and warm — if somewhat language-challenged — service, courtesy of owner Abebech Ejersa, an Ethiopian immigrant who arrived in the Valley a few years ago. Traditional wat platters are the go-to dish, but hot bowls of fragrant yebeg tibs (lamb marinated in garlic and rosemary) and kaywot yesiga (cubed beef with a slightly Southwestern flavor) also are excellent. Be sure to check out Ejersa’s traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony, as important to your dining experience as the meal itself.
Meals of lamb are especially tender. Like the yebeg kikil, cooked in a butter sauce and richly seasoned with ginger, rosemary, and satisfyingly stinging bites of jalapeño peppers; and the yebeg tibs, a sautéed, fragrant dish of bite-size pieces of lamb marinated in garlic and fresh-ground rosemary with red and green peppers, onions, and a large sprig of rosemary on top for good measure.
At the end of your meal, when Ejersa asks you and your dining companions if you would like coffee, you should accept. That is, if you have another hour or so. Unlike the fast-paced and wakey-wakey reputation it has in America, the drinking of coffee is a highly social, ritualistic, and leisurely endeavor in Ethiopian culture. Its ceremony, enacted after every meal, is one of the most enjoyable parts of the Ethiopian restaurant experience, and an invitation to one is considered a mark of friendship or respect.
And during the coffee ceremony, you may find — after watching Ejersa sit at a small, altar-like area amid burning incense, reverently taking the coffee though its life cycle, from washing and roasting the beans to grinding and boiling to pouring the strong brew into the small, china cup at your table — that this Ethiopian eatery oddly located in the back of a convenience store isn’t so strange after all.