If you end up ordering something a little too spicy at Addis Ababa Ethiopian Restaurant, with no other dishes to help dull the pain, the Ethiopian beer and injera come in handy.

By Maureen Witten (Westword) |

When my dining companions and I walked into Addis Ababa Ethiopian Restaurant for a recent dinner, the entire place was dark, empty and a bit dingy. The waitress looked surprised to see us and seemed even more surprised when I asked to be seated for dinner instead of telling her we were lost and seeking directions. In fact, as I looked around, I wondered what the heck we -– a threesome of Caucasian women from the ’burbs -– were doing in this hole in the wall at 2222 South Havana Street in Aurora, Colorado.

For starters, decor is not the restaurant’s top priority. The tables, covered in cracked plastic covers, were a little sticky. The walls appeared dirty, and I found myself feeling grateful that the lights were dimmed so that I couldn’t see anything else that I didn’t really want to. The waitress told us to sit anywhere we wanted, so we chose a table away from the bar, where the tiniest bit of light shined so we could see the already hard-to-read menu.

Addis Ababa Ethiopian Restaurant
2222 S Havana Street
Aurora, CO 80014
TEL: (303) 368-8021

Right off, I ordered a St. George Ethiopian Beer ($4.50) and some sambusas ($1.50 a piece). Like samosas (their Indian counterpart), sambusas are triangular, pastry-like pockets filled with lentils, carrots and onions, then lightly fried in butter. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much after my first impression of the restaurant, but I was caught off guard by how flavorful these little pillowy treats were and how great they tasted alongside the sour-ish beer. The outer layer of the sambusa was perfectly browned, crunchy on the outside and soft and flaky on the inside. And the fact that the chef was able to make something as simple as lentils taste so smoky, rich and meaty instantly reversed my initially skeptical perception of the place.

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