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Overcoming denial

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  It doesn't take much to double the city's roster of Ethiopian restaurants. Nile Ethiopian Restaurant (2130 Magazine St., 504-581-2252; www.nileneworleans.com) pulled off that feat all by itself when it opened last summer on Magazine Street — a mile away from the city's only other entry in this fascinating dining category, Cafe Abyssinia (3511 Magazine St., 504-894-6238).

  In April, a fire that started in an adjacent business knocked Nile out of commission. Now repairs are complete and the restaurant is open again, says owner Tessaye Mendesha, an Ethiopian native who runs the restaurant with his family.

  Nile serves a traditional menu of exuberantly spiced meat and vegetable dishes, including a family of dishes called tibs, which are like stir-fries, and another called wots, which are stews. The linchpin of this cuisine is injera bread. The flat, spongy bread is honeycombed with bubble pits and has the pliable consistency of a thick crepe. It is a staple for many Ethiopian dishes, serving as both the plate upon which they are served and, when torn up into smaller wads, your utensils.

  Mendesha used the five-month downtime to revise the restaurant's menu, which now has more seafood dishes, including a whole-fish preparation, a spicy minced tilapia dish called fish dulet and a fish salad. There's also an array of vegetarian dishes.

  Nile serves lunch and dinner Thursday through Tuesday, and it's BYOB.

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