New to Ethiopian food, we here at the VICC Project have been looking for places to try it around Dallas. We have been pleasantly surprised by several restaurants around the Dallas area, but by no means have tried them all.

Ibex

(On Greenville at 635)

When we sat down we first noticed the decorations in the tables. Combs, jewelry and other items preserved with shellac in the table tops bring color and before even the menus arrive. The staff, or at least the one woman we encountered, is welcoming, friendly and willing to take the time to explain each dish to newcomers.

When we saw the menu, we commented that there is only one vegetarian dish under the veggie dishes heading, the rest of that section is dedicated to fish dishes. Of course, the vegetarian went with the Daily Assorted Ethiopian Veggie Combo (9.99), while the omnivore branched out for ZilZil Tibse.

Ibex Vegetarian CombinationThe vegetarian combo offers a variety of split lentils. The pink lentils look like they are cooked in a meaty sauce, but we were assured they are vegetarian. And they are amazing. The spice builds a little bit, but not so much we can’t take it.

This was our first experience with Injera, a fun sourdough bread with fermentation holes all over. Of course we love it. While it smells like wine, it tastes like a sourdough base with some type of wine or tartness to it. And we don’t just like it because, as the plate, utensil, and napkin of the meal, it lets us use our hands. This stuff actually tastes great by itself.

We also liked the cabbage and carrots. They are sweet, like a pickled dish, and look like they might contain mustard seed or powder, but have no heat. Along the same lines, the beets and onions are incredible.

There is definitely enough food here to share. Two of us got the same thing, so now we know to split it next time.

Because the injera crepe lines the plate, there’s more food here than ya’ think.

Ibex ZilZil TibseThe omnivore’s zilzil tibse were quite nice, too. Prime beef sauteed in seafood and Awaze sauce with onions and tomatoes to accent the beef are amazing. Again, the injera plate and a bit of salad add to the sizzling beef to make this a huge meal.

On the side came a sauce that the omnivore described as “horseradish wasabi death sauce of the flaming apocalypse.” It’s actually quite good, but the he has a tender pallet when it comes to horseradish, so keep heat thresholds in mind when ordering.

Gojo

(In Garland at Buckingham and Jupiter)

A very small restaurant, we were pleased to see drawings on the walls and small areas set up for hookah and music. Definitely the least expensive of the places we visited, we were still able to fill our bellies and carry some home for later.

The veggie combination plate came with four items plus a salad in the middle, but this was still enough to fill up and have carry leftovers home. Again, the injera makes this a much more filling meal than your eyes will register, so be ready to indulge. The lentils are a little spicy here, and the injera is delicious.

Again, the omnivore went for zilzil tibse, and discovered that there is a difference in the dishes. Here, the jalapenos mixed with the beef were incredibly hot and delicious. He had advised the waitress, who we thought may have been the cook as well, that he liked spicy dishes and she obliged with a wonderful balance.

The sweet tea (which, let’s be honest, is not the first choice if you want an authentic experience) tasted like a lemony instant variety, but the food was amazing.

Queen of Sheba

(Off Beltline and Inwood in Addison)

We happened to walk in while a person we took to be the owner was outside on a call. She opened the door for us and welcomed us personally into the restaurant, which is by far the most upscale (fancy napkin folding and ambient lighting kind of upscale) of the places we visited. Queen of Sheba offers vegetarian a la carte items as well as a vegetarian combination plate on the Ethiopian menu. We also found an Italian menu on the back, making this the perfect place to bring those friends or family members who outright refuse to try anything new.

Queen of Sheba Vegetarian CombintaionAt about $15 a plate, Queen of Sheba offers the most food per plate of anyplace we tried. The vegetarian combination includes a variety of dishes from lentils to pickled cabbage, and every one of them is wonderful. The Gomen and Shiro are our favorites, but all of the items on the plate keep us coming back for more.

Yet again our omnivore went with Zilzil Tibse, so we may have to stage an intervention at some point, but he noticed that this version has a medium spice and comes with three vegetable items on the side.

As always, the injera filled us rather quickly, but there was not as much, nor was there an offer of more, even at an additional charge. There are forks on the table, though, so had we not been overstuffed by that point, we would have been fine.

Again, there is more than enough for three people on any one plate, but be prepared to ask for a to-go box before the waitress stacks your dishes. She asked if we were finished, we said yes, and she piled them up to be washed. And she’s a quick one, so ask fast.

We did not partake in the had washing ceremony, but it sounded like an interesting experience.

While all of these places are Ethiopian restaurants, each one brings a unique cooking style and piece of culture to the business. Our recommendations would honestly depend on what you want. If you are looking for great food on a budget, try Gojo. For what we thought was the most immersive experience, go to Ibex. And if you want that fine dining experience, Queen of Sheba is for you. We found wonderful food and friendly service at each restaurant and will return to each one in the future.

If you know of a great place we should try, please let us know. From what we have seen, we are huge fans of this type of food and would love to try more.

Until next we meet, enjoy great food and keep a happy heart.

Come back next Sunday for another ride through cattle country.