From: Biniam Tekle (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Fri Mar 12 2010 - 09:54:01 EST
Local Ethiopian restaurant makes dining hands-on
By Stephanie Scerra
Posted on March 11, 2010
First year Simmone Dyrness and her boyfriend Glenn Contreras enjoyed a new
kind of dining at Café Eritrea D’Afrique for her 19th birthday. Located just
a block away from the MacArthur BART Station, the *Eritrean* and Ethiopian
restaurant makes for a good night out, birthday or otherwise, with its
unique cuisine and customs.
For Contreras, it was love before first bite.
“I like the feel of this place,” Contreras said as he sat down.
Dyrness, too, was excited to try something new.
“I have never had it,” she said. “So I wanted to have a new experience for
my birthday to put in the books.”
The history of the food could fill a book on its own. Owner and Chef Zimam
Gebreab immigrated to America in 1991 as a refugee of the Ethio-Enitrean War
and started working with the previous owners of Cafe Eritrea D’Afrique as a
dishwasher. Only four years later, she bought the restaurant and made it her
“It’s not like other restaurants,” Gebreab said. “It’s a very small one and
a very old one.”
According to its menu, the tradition behind the food is even older than the
restaurant. Café Eritrea D’Afrique features cuisine inspired by Saba, the
Queen of Sheba who offered a banquet so rich with spices that it enticed
King Solomon into developing a relationship with Saba, which led to the
birth of Menelik Solomon, rumored to have taken the Ark of Covenant to
When it comes to spicing things up like the Queen of Sheba in 1000 B.C.,
Contreras believes Café Eritrea D’Afrique doesn’t disappoint because of the
unlimited injera – pancake-like bread made of teff flour it offers
“I feel like this would have way too much flavor without the bread,”
Contreras said, while enjoying the chicken dish he shared with Dyrness. “The
bread shields the taste a bit.”
Café Eritrea D’Afrique likes to put a lot on your plate, both literally and
figuratively. You have to have a taste for adventure to appreciate how messy
a meal can be when you eat with your hands.
“This is cool because there is no silverware,” Dyrness said. “It’s the best
The couple had little to complain about at the end of their meal. Dyrness
said the worst part was “my stomach not being able to finish it all.”
“You get full because of the bread,” she explained.
For those who will have to foot the bill, Contreras said the prices were
“reasonable, but not great.”
For their Doro Alicha, stir-fried chicken breast in mild curry sauce,
Contreras paid $11.95, plus tax and tip. Despite his implication that he has
eaten more for his buck, Contreras said he would get his own plate next
Vegetarians and vegans can take comfort knowing that meat dishes are not all
the restaurant offers. Café Eritrea D’Afrique has many combinations, from
cabbage and green beans to pita bread and yogurt.
“Everything is organic,” Gebreab said. “We don’t buy from outside.”
While the duo chose not to indulge in any of the restaurant’s drinks, Café
Eritrea D’Afrique has a wide variety. Gebreab said the homemade honey wine
is the most popular. For those below the drinking age, their drink with flax
seeds is a healthy alternative.
“In my country, people with cholesterol only drink flax seeds and eat
salads,” Gebreab said.
Ethiopians may be onto something, for flax seeds contain high levels of
lignans, which science has shown to lower cholesterol.
Dyrness recommended that Mills women new to Ethiopian cuisine approach the
experience with an adventurous spirit.
“Be open minded and don’t be afraid to try new things,” she said.
Café Eritrea D’Afrique <http://maps.google.com/maps?ct=reset> is located at
4069 Telegraph Avenue, an easy walk from both the Mills Shuttle and AC
Transit stops. The restaurant is open every day but Tuesday from 10:00 a.m.
to 11:00 p.m. for lunch and dinner.
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