Authentic Ethiopian Food in Phoenix: Ethiopian Famous Restaurant and Coffee

Getting ready to devour Ethiopian food!

Getting ready to devour Ethiopian food!

Located in South Phoenix, Ethiopian Famous Restaurant is for all practical purposes located in the heart of Mexico.

But as soon as you crack the door to the Somalian mini-mart, the aromas change from fresh tortillas and tamales to blasts of berbere and intoxicating African spices.

In the minimart you’ll see gunny sacks of the staple grain known as teff piled on palettes, a humble selection of Somalian and Ethiopian food products, and a decent amount of traditional Islamic and Orthodox clothing and religious paraphernalia.

In the back is where most of the outstanding smells are created – an authentic Ethiopian restaurant known as Ethiopian Famous Restaurant and Coffee.

Ethiopian Famous Restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona

Ethiopian Famous Restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona

Cook, mother, and owner Abebech, is the type of person you want on your food team. She immediately produced an aura of food expertise just like mama chapati in Morogoro.

Just like The Smart Village, Famous Ethiopian Restaurant is not even like a restaurant, it’s like eating in an Ethiopian home – and the food boasts the same home comforting flavors.

Ethiopian food in Phoenix

Key Wat

One of the standard Ethiopian dishes I can’t do without is Key Wat. The dish could be called just Ethiopian beef stew, but in reality it’s a complex curry filled with all sorts of pungent spices and loaded with garlic and onions.

Ethiopian Food in Phoenix

Ethiopian Food in Phoenix

Along with the mixed vegetable platter and the mixed meat platter came a nice dosage of Doro Wat, one of Ethiopia’s most famous dishes. The sauce is an intricate combination of spices and onions simmered until they turn into a rich sauce blend. The hard boiled egg made it even better.

One of many many bites of Ethiopian food!

One of many many bites of Ethiopian food!

Every single bite of Ethiopian food is an explosion of delightful taste – and I can’t get enough of it. Abebech makes here own injera (pancake bread) daily, so it’s soft and spongy.

As normal, I stuffed in a lot of food very fast, and when I started to think about the amount I had already eaten, I started to surrender — to slow down at the mercy of the food.

If you’re interested, watch this quick video on how to eat Ethiopian food – it’s one of the first videos I’ve ever made, so feel free to laugh a litte!

Ethiopian food in Phoenix, Arizona

Messy and stunning bowl of doro wat!

Unfortunately, Ethiopian Famous Restaurant wasn’t able to obtain fresh enough beef for the Kitfo (Ethiopian raw beef tartare) the night I went, but one of the best dishes was the extra spicy bowl of Doro Wat (different version from the one above).

It was nothing but the purest ambrosia in a bowl.

Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony

Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony

To round out the meal, Abebech performed an outstanding Ethiopian coffee ceremony. She did just about everything in the traditional manner beginning with green coffee beans, which she roasted in front of us and proceeded to hand pound the beans and then brew it in the traditional Ethiopian clay coffee pot.

The aroma of freshly roasted coffee paired with the distinct scent of frankincense filled the air of the restaurant. The coffee was sweetened with sugar, perfectly smooth with not even a hint of acidity.

If you enjoy coffee, you won’t want to miss the Ethiopian coffee ceremony at the end of your meal (you can watch my video here).

Ethiopian Famous Restaurant and Coffee, Phoenix, Arizona

Ethiopian Famous Restaurant and Coffee, Phoenix, Arizona

Ethiopian food and I go way back, it’s been one of my most beloved cuisines since growing up in Nairobi. Any chance I get to eat Ethiopian food, I jump at it!

Ethiopian Famous Restaurant was purely delicious – seriously a mandatory restaurant to eat at when you visit Phoenix, Arizona!

Here are the details:

Ethiopian Famous Restaurant & Coffee – Offers Special Ethiopian Menus Meat & Vegetarians
Address: 905 North 16th Street
Phone: 602-275-5663 (you can even call to order or to confirm that the restaurant is open)
Prices: Our total bill came to about $12 per person
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily

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    • says

      Awesome to hear that Annette – please let me know how you like it if you’re able to go in October! In the meantime, you better get some good Ethiopian food in California too!

    • says

      Cool, thank you for sharing your article. I’ve also noticed a lot of Ethiopian restaurants really have the same decor around the world – such a strong culture… and AMAZING cuisine!

  1. says

    Mark – thanks for the tip on this restaurant. I love Ethiopian food and have never been here. I live in Scottsdale Arizona and I will be trying this restaurant very soon. If you’re still in Arizona please try out my favorite Thai/Lao restaurant, it’s the best Thai food I have ever had in the United States!

    • says

      Awesome Zach, definitely check out Ethiopian Famous! Too bad I’m not in the US anymore, but I’ll remember your recommendation for next time I’m there, thanks. Let me know how you like the Ethiopian restaurant!

  2. Anna says

    I just moved to Mesa and haven’t tried this place yet, but I am excited to give it a try! My dad goes to Ethiopia twice a year and has told me all about the coffee ceremony, I have always wanted to experience it for myself.

    Does anyone know where I can find performers or teachers of Ethiopian shoulder dancing in the Mesa/Phoenix area?

  3. Anindya Sengupta says

    I was just going through your blog and your post on Calcutta (Kolkata) street food, and then I’m reading this. I haven’t been to this place in Phoenix, but I wonder if you have ever been to an Ethiopian restaurant in Tempe on W. University Drive called Cafe Lalibela- that one has delicious food, though maybe a bit pricey compared to other restaurants in the area. Not sure for how long it’s been open though. Another very good, and a bit more upscale Ethiopian restaurant that I’ve had the pleasure of eating at was in Chicago when I went there in June, it’s named Ras Dashen.

    I forgot to mention that I’m from Calcutta and am currently a graduate student at ASU, living in Tempe. My undergraduate college in Calcutta was on Park Street, right next to Camac Street – so I had access to both the delicious streetfood and the inviting restaurants in the vicinity. I wonder if you’ve ever had this bread called ‘neer dosa’, which is popular in Maharashtra and Karnataka ( and maybe some other neighobouring regions), which is eaten well with the Maharashtrian cuisine seafood in Bombay. It is similar in taste and the way it’s eaten (accompanied by an éntree/main dish) and identical in texture to Injera. The only major difference is in colour – I guess if it is a “white bread/ brown bread” difference.

    For some reason I keep feeling that Tempe/Phoenix/Scottsdale is not a great place for food – I’ve had better luck in places such as Ithaca and Iowa City. Maybe I haven’t tried out many places.


    • says

      Hey Andy, great to hear from you, thank you for the comment. Yes, years ago I did eat at Cafe Lalibela a number of times and always had good experiences there.

      Nice to hear you’re from Calcutta. I still dream about the wonderful food available there, so many delicious things to eat.

      I don’t think I’ve ever tried neer dosa, but I will keep an eye out for it, I’d love to try it.

      Thanks and all the best with ASU!


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