The 8 Best Ethiopian Restaurants In Chicago

The best places to get perfect injera, gomen, sambusas, and other Ethiopian specialties in Chicago.
The 8 Best Ethiopian Restaurants In Chicago image

photo credit: Demera

Equal parts flavorful, shareable, and soul-satisfying, Ethiopian food never disappoints. From sampler platters decorated with stewed meats and vegetables to crispy sambusas that we could snack on endlessly—there’s plenty to get excited about. Fortunately, Chicago has a handful of great Ethiopian restaurants to choose from. So whether you want some ful and eggs for breakfast or want to catch up with friends while sipping on honey wine and scooping up handfuls of doro wot and gomen, these are the spots to check out.


photo credit: Sandy Noto



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Even though it's been around since 2007, Demera is still one of our go-to restaurants in Uptown. The convivial energy of the dining room makes you want to stay a while—whether you’re on a date, or having a group dinner where friendships won't be destroyed after splitting the check. Their chef-curated messob plates come with plenty of injera and a variety of dishes, like doro wot, beef tibs in a spicy awaze sauce, or garlicky collard greens. And you’ll be wishing you could easily pick up their housemade tej on your next Binny’s run.

With a nearly three-decade-long reign, Ethiopian Diamond is the oldest spot on this guide. And the reason behind its veteran status is simple: The food is fantastic. Like flaky sambusas, shimbra asa (they say they introduced the pillowy chickpea dumplings to Chicago), any stew involving the smoky “Diamond berbere” sauce—each bite prevents you from focusing on anything else until it’s gone. The spacious dining room is relaxed, perfect for a catch-up dinner or a quiet date when you want to chat without having to break the sound barrier. And even on slightly busier weekends, you can still grab a table last minute.

Tesfa does it all. You can have a relaxed breakfast of spiced scrambled eggs, or come for dinner and work through an injera platter full of doro wot, spicy catfish, and stewed tomatoes. And this Ethiopian spot in Andersonville is particularly fun at night. That’s when it’s in peak form—tables are packed, and upbeat Ethiopian pop blasts from a TV playing music videos.

A menu full of pastries, coffee, waffles, and gelato might make you think those are the main reasons to check out this Edgewater spot. But it's actually their great Ethiopian and Eritrean food that distinguishes Mella from your typical, neighborhood cafe. The breakfast sampler is the best way to try a bunch of dishes. It comes with a fuul topped with feta, berbere-spiced scrambled eggs, potato salad, fitfit with chewy pieces of stir-fried kitcha, and loaves of French bread. It’s a lot of food, so bring a friend to split it while hanging out in the brightly lit space, or on their front patio.

Tears were shed when beloved Edgewater staple Ras Dashen closed. But the sadness didn't last long—Axum shortly took over the vacant space. And their injera might be the hardest working in the business, capable of fitting 20 dishes on a $110 chef’s sampler for two. But you can still get smaller samplers with just a few dishes, like dollops of shiro with roasted chickpeas or gored gored: lightly cooked, rare beef cubes in a spicy awaze and cognac sauce. This place doesn’t get too busy, making it a good spot for a spontaneous group dinner.

With an exterior covered in signage for all of the other businesses in Uptown’s Sun Plaza Strip Mall, Queen Sheba’s storefront isn’t easy to spot. But if you look closely you’ll find this cozy Ethiopian cafe just below the signs for a bank and nail salon. The space is tiny, with only four tables, but when you can snag a seat it’s great for a low-key breakfast of ful with scrambled eggs and French bread. And coming in for a cup of coffee along with spiced mashed chickpeas complemented by peppers, onions, and tomatoes is always a good life choice.

Selam’s entrance looks like a butcher shop—there’s a display case of raw beef, and meat hangs from hooks behind the counter like it’s doing an aerialist routine. It’s foreshadowing: This laidback Uptown restaurant specializes in raw dishes, like kitfo with clarified butter, or unseasoned beef, tere siga, served with mustard, a spicy sauce, and chili powder. But you can also enjoy great cooked dishes in their laidback dining room, like spicy zil zil tibs and the whole rosemary-marinated fried tilapia.

Awash’s large, boxy interior and hardwood floors make it feel a little like a wedding reception venue. This makes sense, since you can book this Edgewater restaurant’s space for any event requiring a 50-seat communal table (hopefully everyone gets along): weddings, birthdays, or graduation parties. And it’s great for the latter since it’s across from Loyola. Awash has greatest hits like doro wot and gomen, along with zesty shrimp tibs and fantastic elebete. The pureed fava beans drizzled with olive oil are nicely complemented by the tart injera.

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