El Cerrito: Taste of Ethiopia

We were big fans of the Ethiopian food of Tsege, the original owner of Taste of Ethiopia in El Cerrito. A delightful woman, she unfortunately had to return to her homeland for family reasons. The restaurant did poorly under its new management and has closed.

I have been meandering through Shef.com, which is still in limited distribution in the SFBA but plans to expand (they are in several other cities). They have a group of home cooks who offer different cuisines, and if you are in the zipcode delivery system, you can have food delivered to your doorstep.

We tried one “shef” and liked it, so a further search turned up a single vendor of Ethiopian food - and it was Tsege! We will putting in an order for next week and are very excited to have found her again [smile].

Of the top Ethiopian/Eritrean EBay restaurants, we would class Lemat/Berkeley first, but followed very very closely by Tsege/Shef and Asmara/Oakland in a tie for second.

Fortunately, we are in Oakland and Shef covers our zipcode. There’s a few zips in Berkeley, I think, but most are in SF.


Thank you! None in my zip, but no surprise there.

Glad to know that Asmara is still there. I used to work in downtown Oakland a decade back and would opt for either Asmara or Addis for Eritrean/Ethiopian.


I don’t know how long it’s been since you ate at Addis, but you might not be aware that the original cook/owner sold that restaurant and the new cooks are not as good. We ate there in 2016 and were disappointed.

In doing my review on Addis I noted this:
“…Originally owned by Dawit Tesfaye and Kalki Tesfaye, sometime in 2014 or 2015 ownership of Addis changed. Ms. Tesfaye, a well-regarded cook, now lives in Oak Park, IL.”

Asmara went through a bad patch - a REALLY bad patch - as we had always enjoyed it until 2008, when we got a simply awful meal. The meat entrees had essentially turned into stir-fries with one-note gravies.

We started going elsewhere, and only returned to Asmara just this month, where we were happy to find the cooking was back at the original level. The Doro Wat (chicken) was especially noteworthy - the gravy was almost black; rich and complex flavors yet quite different than the Key Wat (beef) which uses many of the same ingredients. The lentil dishes were also excellent and distinctly different from one another.

Only fail was the Tikil Gomen, which tasted either old or off.


I’d not been back there for ages. Sad to hear that it’s deteriorated. It was really good in its day back then.

When I posted my Addis rvw on “Y”, a member messaged me that they had loved Addis previously, but after returning to the SFBA on a visit from NYC, went back to Addis just before we were there, and were disappointed also.

I read the original owner said she was going to try to open an Ethiopian place in Evanston, IL, where she was now living, but I didn’t follow up so I don’t know if she did that, or not.


Interested in how you’ll find your Shef order stacks up to eating in/getting takeout from the same cook. My main complaint with Shef vis-a-vis takeout or delivery is that it’s totally opaque when the food was cooked, and how far it has traveled to get to you. (They send you the food chiled, to reheat at home.) I think this is a big reason why cuisines that are heavy on stews, curries, and braises (Indian, Ethiopian) seem to be fairly popular on Shef, while cuisines that are more reliant on less travel-friendly techniques, or feature lots of raw herbs and veggies, are few and far between. (It’s kind of telling that there are half a dozen Persian Shefs in the Bay Area, and yet none of them offer the side dish of sabzi khordan that’s a given at a home-cooked Persian meal, or at a good Persian restaurant like Lavash.)

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We’re getting our delivery from Tsege this coming Friday and will report back.

Delivery is not kind to most cooked foods, and it’s why I’m not a user of Doordash/Caviar/et. al. Pre-pandemic we dined out a lot as it’s a hobby for me, and most of the dishes we like and return for, simply are not suitable for being packed up steaming hot and then schlepped across town for 45 min to 1+ hr(s).

Most restaurant meal prep takes place hours before diners sit down to choose their orders. Recipes are chosen so that finishing the cooking and plating take the least amount of time. No restaurant worth its reputation would ever offer to deliver a cooked steak.

I think it’s like cooking for a potluck, I might make a cold dish, a braise, a casserole or finger food, but I don’t think any cook would bring a just-cooked gai choy stir-fry, or offer to bring you a brunch dish of creamy scrambled eggs with toast. It’s impossible to overcome the overcooking/delivery lag.

I often joke with my spouse that he’s the only one who gets my best cooking these days, since I stopped hosting old-style, sit-down dinner parties! (to be honest, I hate potlucks; even with my own family who are all excellent cooks).