Berbere fills a massive hole in LA’s Ethiopian restaurant scene. The BYOB counter-service spot in Santa Monica is run by a couple who used to operate the T&T Lifestyle pop-up at Smorgasburg, and it’s home to a bunch of incredible plant-based Ethiopian dishes that are easy for just about anyone to love. Yes, even your friend who’s built his entire personality around carne asada.
We stopped in for a late lunch and tried the Eat The Rainbow combo, which came with four small bowls of legumes, vegetables, and a few rolls of injera. Both the red lentil and turmeric garbanzo stews were creamy and rich, while the purple cabbage with potatoes and sauteed greens smelled like a well-stocked spice cabinet. In addition to some classics, Berbere serves Ethiopian twists on tacos, sliders, and breakfast burritos that’ll make you want to show up about as often as a mama bird returns to its offspring’s nest. And you can, considering that the walk-in-only restaurant has tons of seating downstairs, plus a small loft-style dining room upstairs that’s just waiting to be claimed by a group of regulars.