There are at least a couple of Ethiopian restaurants in Denver serving breakfast menus that differ from what you’ll find on lunch and dinner slates, and The Africana Cafe is one of them

By Mark Antonation |

Americans are good at breakfast — at least when it comes to the more-is-better school of cooking: eggs, pork products, pancakes, waffles, portable sandwiches, hot-and-cold cereals, sugary pastries, toast with peanut butter and jelly. For all that variety, though, American breakfast doesn’t go much beyond filling, fueling and fairly bland. But breakfast happens around the world, wherever people wake up hungry and need a morning boost (and have the wherewithal to feed themselves), so why aren’t there more breakfast joints in Denver serving food from other countries and other cultures?

Some Mexican eateries have figured out how to make a few extra bucks by opening early and serving burritos and huevos rancheros; French cafes offer coffee and croissants for the sophisticated set (and let’s not forget creations like French toast and omelets). But the sample set here is extraordinarily small compared to the wide variety of international cuisine available later in the day.

There are, however, at least a couple of Ethiopian restaurants serving breakfast menus that differ from what you’ll find on lunch and dinner slates. The Africana Cafe, 5091 East Colfax Avenue, is one such place. The cafe is built into an odd, wedge-shaped building that may have at one time housed a jazz club (judging by the exterior wall murals) and now also includes a recording studio downstairs and a soul-food restaurant (that may or may not be open) on the east side. The garlic-heavy perfume of Ethiopian cooking wafts out onto the sidewalk, letting you know that something’s happening inside, even if breakfast isn’t exactly the restaurant’s busiest meal.

Ethiopian cuisine is heavy on meatless dishes, and breakfast is no exception. Dried beans, peas and lentils are the staples, with bread — either crusty baguettes or spongy injera — as a handy side for mopping up sauces. Also present are coffee, eggs and the powerful spice blends that give Ethiopian cooking its distinct heat and complexity.

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