For years, Fasika has been synonymous with Twin Cities Ethiopian dining.
So intertwined are the two that if you’re having one, you’re probably having the other, but that could be changing a little.
Just across the street from Fasika, Ghebre’s Restaurant is another indie, family-owned, quaint but delicious Ethiopian dynamo.
The room is spare but sleek, airy, and open. Minor touches have been made toward stylizing the place, including flowers on tables and some piped-in African music and even a little bar in the middle of the room. Service is swift, though you’ll wait a little while for food delivery, as the cooking tastes of a la minute preparation.
The menu is simple and traditional, with familiar lamb and beef tibs sauteed with onion and heavy berebere, the famous Ethiopian spice blend that usually includes chile, garlic, ginger, basil, cardamom, and others. Doro (chicken curry with onion and garlic), Key Wat (a stew that’s much like tibs but saucier), and Lamb Alicha (a ginger-forward, turmeric-colored stew) are also main course options.
As always, choose your meat, and it will arrive on a platter of injera, or be wise and order it along with a veggie combo (pictured) for maximum sampling. All of the veggie dishes are also available as separate menu items.
Our platter arrived doubled up on the bottom with two beautiful pancakes of injera bread and more bonus items than we actually ordered, each one individual-tasting, colorful, and texturally interesting.
We were particularly fond of the Misir, a rich lentil stew made with yet more berebere, tomatoes, and garlic. The dark red broth binding the lentils took on almost an Italian character. There was also a split pea wot and a yellow lentil dish.
Curry potatoes were done with exceptional precision. These showcase the character of the potato beautifully, and the curried cabbage acts as as a bright and cooling streak to all the deep flavors.
Two different greens preparations let you happily eat your vegetables -- one almost pureed, and the other chopped more coarsely with collards and red onion.
Injera is presented artfully all over the place, not only lining the platter, but also at the periphery and with another couple of helpings on the side. You won’t run out.
Nothing was particularly spicy, but our server dropped a little pot of smooth, ruby-red hot sauce that was more bass note than liveliness, but very good and provided another complex dimension to each bite.
There are options here for vegans, where vegetable oil is used in place of butter, and we also spotted a breakfast menu, where the likes of avocado salad with injera and fata (shreeded injera mixed with hot chile and yogurt) will turn your morning meal on its head.
The pictured platter went for $28 at lunchtime, a pretty fair deal considering it’s enough for four people to happily share.
Ghebre’s also serves beer and wine, and we spotted a couple bottles of booze, too. While we wouldn’t call it a “full bar,” it suggests they’re able to pour a cocktail or two.
Also, their Saturday buffet, 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., puts all your favorite tibs and wots out and makes them available by the scoop. The restaurant is also open until midnight, nightly.
512 Snelling Ave., St. Paul