Ethiopian Goodness, back in Vegas

I noticed this little ethiopian cafe near our hotel a few months ago, and Strick has been trying to get me to try it for just as long.  To be honest it looked sketchy on the outside and my inability to stop eating the spongey injera bread had me avoiding it.  I was interested, but not dedicated to the mission.  Finally Strick roped me in and we went before work today.  Turns out, Strick was right, the place is awesome and another random nugget of deliciousness in Vegas.

On the outside it looked like a crackhouse.  Opaque windows, usually a creepy ethiopian desert person out front, and I’m pretty sure there is a gay porn company next door.  Once inside though, its like a portal to old Addia Abeba.  The place was empty but cozy.  Wood and terra cotta seemed the only building materials and the bare walls were intermittently interrupted by religious paintings of Ethiopia’s revered.

Even after being at quite a few ethiopian joints in the past, I’ve never seen an ethiopian beer offered.  The prospect was too good to pass up even though it was technically breakfast.  It was called Meta Beer.  Never seen it or even heard of it, and I figured it would taste like your everyday 3rd world local beer.  Imperial, Tecate, Chang, even Kingfisher, they’re light, slightly bitter beers that are easy to drink and cheap as fuck.  Meta suprised me.  It looked the same, but it tasted sweet with a relatively thick mouth feel.  It was more like a really cheap port than a really cheap porter.

Without the english translations on the menu, I would’ve had no idea where to start.  Even indian confuses me, but I know certain buzz words; naan, tikka, dal.  I have no frame of reference with ethiopian.  I’ve had it, but without fail, forget the names of the dishes minutes after ordering them.  The only thing I retained is that injera is the shit.  If you haven’t had, it is the warm, spongey flatbread the ethiopians use as part filler, part utensil.  Its like a thick crepe/thin buckwheat pancake.  Its awesome.  I wish I could make blankets out of it, and then eat it every morning when I woke up.  There is usually a pizza sized portion under the servings of food and more served on the side. I challenge anyone to not eat every inch of it in one sitting.  And then consider seconds.  And then be rolled out in a food coma…

Strick ordered a beef dish that I think was called Tibs Wett.  It was thick cubes of cuminy, spicey steak.  After the waitress’ veggie recommendation, I ordered the “vegetarian combination”.  Again I forgot exactly what was on it, but after some Googling I think I got it…

(Clockwise from the top)

Gomen-simmered collard greens

Misir Wot-spicy lentils with middle eastern spices

Salata-basic lettuce, onion, tomato salad

Aterkik Alitcha- mild, but savory split pea mush

Fasolia-sauteed green beans, onion, carrots

Atkilt Wot-stewed and curried cabbage, carrots, peppers and onions

(Middle)

Atkilt Salata-beets, potatoes stewed with ethiopian spices.

***

Its was a mushy, spicy, colorful smorgasbord.  Each pile has a distinct flavor, but when using teared off pieces of squishy injera to shove as much as possible in your mouth, its just divine goodness.

***

Maybe I’m just especially pleasant and happy after being in Cancun for a week, but I really loved this place.  I am adding the Cottage Cafe to my shortlist of cool things in Vegas, all of them being restaurants.  Yokohama Kaigen, Lotus of Siam and now Cottage Cafe. All oasis’ in the desert.  Next mission; I just need a cool bar….

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