Dining in Ethiopia is a great experience, with numerous traditional restaurants lining the streets of the main cities along with international fare from the usual favorites like China, India, the Middle East, and even European. It is best to make advanced reservations especially when eating out (especially Sundays) as most establishments are closed certain days. Classic Ethiopian cuisine in at its best in Addis Ababa, but you will also find eateries offering Italian pizzas and Indian curries. The southeastern district near Bole Road is home to good restaurants and the lively Piazza district. Outside of the capital and larger towns, you will find a decent selection of cafés.
Bars and Pubbing in Ethiopia
The nightlife in Ethiopia is particularly lively in the cities and areas where international hotels are abundant. Numerous bars and clubs dot Addis Ababa, all offering excellent entertainment for night owls. Standout bars include Fendkika Azmari Beat (Zewditu St., Addis Ababa), Yegebawal (Piazza, Addis Ababa) and Topia Tej Beat (Urael, Addis Ababa), the only place in town that serves pure honey tej, a popular and highly intoxicating local honey wine.
D-Cave Club (Beyene Abasebsib St., Addis Ababa) in the city’s southwest area is a popular music spot that hosts famous DJs on weekends with rotating genres, from hip-hop and Ethiopian music to drum and base. Yewedale (Zewditu St., Addis Ababa) is among the most popular places for an evening out and where the best azmaris (singers) perform. Those who are looking for a more laidback vibe can try lounge-style clubs like Divine (Sheger Bldg., Cameroon St., Addis Ababa) or Virgo (Cameroon St., Bole, Addis Ababa).
Elsewhere in the country, there are other exciting party spots like Lalibela’s Askalech Tej House (Town Center, Lalibela) and Gondar’s Abkeilish Tej Beat (S of Royal Enclosure Area, Gondar), and the American-inspired Hill Top Bar (Town Center, Gondar).
Harar in the south also has its own share of hip bars and clubs, like Bar Cottage (Walled City, Harar), which offers good honey wine. If you are looking for live music, head to the National Hotel (New Town, Harar) or GC Pub (Walled City, Harar) to chill out, known for its steady flow of booze and reggae beats.
Dining and Cuisine in Ethiopia
Typical Ethiopian restaurants serve injera, which is the country’s national dish made from a spongy teff grain based flatbread coated in vegetable sauce or spicy meat. Wat stew is also a staple food across the country, made from goat, lamb, chicken, or beef, though vegetarian and fish variations are available. For desert, sweet cakes and pastries can be found in cafés throughout the country, most of which are located close to major tourist attractions.
Whether it’s a quiet dinner or a quick lunch you are looking for, you’ll find what you want throughout the capital and other developed towns in Ethiopia. Serenade restaurant (Piazza, Addis Ababa) is tucked in a cobblestone alley in the city’s Piazza, offering a great menu of succulent treats, including vegetarian dishes and heavenly desserts with a Mediterranean twist. Dashen Traditional Restaurant (City Center, Addis Ababa), is the place to head for authentic injera.
Addis Ababa Restaurant (Piazza, Addis Ababa) is housed in a museum-like building, offering local Ethiopian favorites and some of the best pure tej you will ever taste from its own honey wine brewery. Agelgil (S of City Center, Addis Ababa) offers good food and entertainment situated on a dirt road near the railway. Those looking for a more upscale eatery can visit Habesha Restaurant (Bole Rd Urael), which is famous for its nightly dancing and live music.
The northern region of the country has no shortage of good dining spots either. Unique Restaurant (Town Center, Lalibela) in Lalibela offers delicious Ethiopian dishes, while Aksum’s Abinet Hotel (Town Center, Aksum) serves excellent pastas and a wide selection of local favorites. Habesha Kitfo (Royal Enclosure, Gondar) is known for traditional Ethiopian food and vegetarian dishes.