It’s been eleven years since Habesha Restaurant first opened its (kebab shop) doors, and thankfully there’s no bare brick walls, Edison lightbulbs or industrial-chic pipework in sight.

By Lucy Lovell (Manchester Evening News) |

First impressions are important, not least in the restaurant world. But at Habesha Restaurant, the no-frills joint that claims to be Manchester’s only Ethiopian restaurant, first impressions are patchy to say the least.

Set amongst nightclubs and bars, the door isn’t just hidden, it’s disguised as the Istanbul kebab shop.

Eagle-eyed diners will spot that Habesha Restaurant is accessed through a set of discouragingly dirty steps in the corner of the takeaway, although many probably give up and buy a kebab.

Aside from a small Habesha Restaurant sign on the side of the first floor dining room, the Ethiopian joint is almost invisible from street level.

Unsurprisingly, the restaurant lay hidden for years, ticking over on a reliable stream of regulars.

The waiter and co-owner tells me and my pal: “For the first five years we didn’t have any English customers… now people are coming on recommendations, reading reviews on TripAdvisor, friends tell them to come – we have more English customers now than people from our community.”

Over the years the clientele may have grown and evolved, but the interior seems to have remained the same. It’s been eleven years since Habesha Restaurant first opened its (kebab shop) doors, and thankfully there’s no bare brick walls, Edison lightbulbs or industrial-chic pipework in sight.

Inside it’s homely, almost dauntingly so. Regulars recline at the bar watching the news on a flatscreen TV, people eat using their hands with skill and grace I can only dream of, and traditional textiles and crafts cover the walls.

We start with a couple of Ethiopian beers. St George larger (£2) is refreshing, but generic: it’s clear that people don’t come here for the booze.

Continue reading this story at Manchester Evening News
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