As an adoptive mom, I like to incorporate our children’s birth culture into our lives when possible. Our homestown does not have any Ethiopian restaurants. When planning our Spring Break trip to the Oregon coast, we decided we’d really like to eat at an Ethiopian restaurant in Portland. A friend recommended the Queen of Sheba. It is located at 2413 NE M L King Blvd, which is downtown not far from the river, about 10 minutes north of OMSI. (Map here)
We went on a Saturday around 1 pm. The restaurant is in an older building with high ceilings. It was very quiet at that time; only one other group was eating. Our group of 10 was shown to a table immediately. Though the decor looked old, it was clean and decorated with fun Ethiopian art work and baskets.
I wasn’t sure exactly what quantities to order on the menu, so I asked the waitress to help me out. We ended up ordering double serving of Doro Wat and Aleche Tibs (beef stew) along with single servings of lentil stew, potato stew, yellow split pea stew and their special vegetarian stew.
We were all quite hungry and so were glad that the wait for our food was only fifteen minutes or so. We didn’t get a ceremonial hand-washing like at the traditional restaurants in Ethiopia, but I was grateful for the huge heap of very sturdy napkins. For those of you who haven’t dined Ethiopian-style before, the various stews are all placed on a generous layer of injera that covers a tray. Everyone eats with their fingers off the same tray, ripping off bits of injera to snag bits of food. Not exactly neat, but very fun.
As you can see, the presentation of the food is also fun. The alecha tibs (beef) is between 10 and 12 o’clock in this picture. Between 2 and 4 is the doro wat (chicken in a spicy sauce with boiled eggs). At 7 is the lentil stew, with the potato stew above it. At 9 on the clock is the vegetarian stew, with the yellow split pea stew just inside of it. In the center is a refreshing lettuce and tomato salad.
The spiciest food was the doro wat. We enjoy spicy food, and we downed two pitchers of water to deal with it. Next in hotness came the lentil stew. The rest of the dishes were fairly mild. Though we all would have happily eaten a dab more of the doro wat, it turned out to be a nice mix of foods for our family.
The serving tray sits on a lazy susan so people can turn to the tray to get to the food they want. Our tray went round and round, and we loved every single dish we were offered. We had to ask the waitress for more injera three different times, as the stuff went very fast with all of us eating. But we walked out feeling stuffed. It was delicious, and the whole meal cost us just a little over $60 – - not bad at all for ten people.
We’ve decided to make a meal at The Queen of Sheba a new tradition on our yearly trip to the coast. Just writing about all the delicious food makes me want to fire up my injera starter and plan an Ethiopian meal sometime in the next few days. I’ll be sharing new recipes soon too.
Have you been to any good Ethiopian restaurants in your area? If you can recommend a good place, please leave a note in comments sharing the name and address of the restaurant, as well as any pertinent points about the restaurant. When I gather enough recommendations, I’ll compile a list similar to my Ethiopian Adoptive Family Blogroll. I think this is just one more way we adoptive families can support each other and raise our children to be proud of their Ethiopian heritage.