El Cerrito: Taste of Ethiopia (veg/vegan)

Taste of Ethiopia
11740 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito, CA (next door to Gangnam Tofu)
(no active website)
Review date: September 4, 2018

We visited this cute little restaurant for lunch. The owner is delightful, and FYI says the recent slide in Y-ratings was due to a serious staff issue that arose while she was back in Ethiopia. Tsege (I think that’s her name, mea culpa if not) has retaken control of her restaurant. She has been back less than 2 weeks.

To save her restaurant she had to make some serious changes:

  • The menu is now vegan. She will make meat dishes for catering or in-house restaurant events, but said her customers have been vegetarian-focused.
  • No credit cards; CASH ONLY, for the time being.
  • Current menu is not on-line (I urged her to post it soon). Lunch menu has 7 mains, 5 of which are on the veggie combo we ordered. Dinner menu is slightly longer.
  • She hopes to hire soon (her staff was dismissed without her approval, in her absence) so she is doing the serving & cooking.

The coffee service remains available by reservation. The parking lot of this strip mall is small; we find it easier to park along San Pablo Ave. and walk in.

The veggie combo was outstanding, especially the Yemisir we’t (spicy red lentils) and Ater kik alecha (yellow mild split peas). It is rare to see these well-executed when there is no niter kibbeh used, and especially for the Yemisir we’t (aka wot). So often it is just harsh and hot, but without depth.

Taste’s versions have wonderful depth. Our only minus was the shiro, ordered separately, was a bit too salty on its own. DH tore up the injera and mixed it in - said it was wonderful that way!

To put our enthusiasm for Taste of Ethiopia in context, our current favs are Lemat/Berkeley and Injera/Alameda, ahead by a country mile over the other 9 Ethiopian/Eritrean EBay places we’ve tried.

But even tho we are confirmed carnivores, we were wowed by this cute little spot. DH told her this was the best vegetarian food he’d had in over 50 yrs of Bay Area dining out, and he wants to return this very week!

Since there are no recent menu links, I took photos of and posted to Yelp. I’m not sure how to add photos to HO, so will try to add them to a follow-up post.


To upload pics, click the upload button, highlighted below.

Looking forward to your pics!

Thanks for the review! It’s been awhile since my last visit there, although I always found it delightful. I’ll pass along the note about it being all vegan to some friends who will find that change quite exciting.

Thanks! Unfortunately posting the menu photos will have to wait until we get home next week; we’re in Sonoma Cnty noshing around with friends for a few days, LOL.

Appreciate the help!

Just FYI: owner Tsege has expanded the menu and looks like most of the changes are now posted to Door Dash:

We returned for another visit with a friend and the only two dishes I think are not listed yet are:

  • There is a spicy mushroom dish and a non-spicy mushroom version. We had the spicy one and it was terrific. I liked it much better than Colucci’s version.

  • Tsege is experimenting with tofu - she says they grow a lot of soybeans in Ethiopia but have only recently started using them. She gave us a dish of mashed firm tofu, mixed with spices. Very chile-hot! It was very good but she could probably reduce the portion size a bit - it was more than the three of us could finish in combination with the veggie platter and an order of shiro.

The shiro, btw, was spot-on this time. The previous oversalting has been corrected and we all gave it a thumbs-up.