One of the things I like best about the area of Chicago that I live in is the large number of different immigrant populations – and their accompanying cuisine. In Uptown’s Argyle Street area, you’ve got more Thai and Vietnamese restaurants than you can shake a stick at. On Devon in Rogers Park, you can choose from a ton of Indian restaurants. And in my neighborhood– Edgewater — and nearby Rogers Park, there’s a good-sized Ethiopian community, which means there are plenty of Ethiopian restaurants to choose from.
I first tried Ethiopian when I moved here, and I immediately fell for it. I like that, instead of using silverware, you use pieces of a ferment-y flat bread called injera to scoop up the food. It comes on one big platter, which makes for something of an intimate dining experience. Sharing a platter in this manner requires a certain comfort level with your dining partner. It’d be a great meal for a large group to share. There’s also just something fun and primal about eating with your hands that I can’t get enough of.
This time, bk and I decided to try a different place, Ethiopian Diamond, the first restaurant of its kind in Edgewater. Here’s what I’ve learned since my first excursion: Most injera is made with wheat flour along with teff flour, a grain native to Africa. However, you can also get 100 percent teff injera at many restaurants and stores, which means its gluten-free. Most restaurants prefer you call ahead to let them know you need the gf/100 percent teff injera but are happy to accomodate. I’ve also purchased it locally at Kukulu Market, a small Ethiopian store not far from my apartment. The all-teff injera is darker in color but to me, I don’t notice much difference in the taste.
At ED, we decided to go for one of the Taste of Ethiopia meat samplers, which came with a spicy beef dish, a bone-in lamb stew, a garlicky spinach mixture and a spicy bone-in chicken. I expected the lamb to be my favorite but we both agreed the beef was actually the best. So tender. The lamb was actually my least favorite – I’d expected the large bones since it was, of course, bone-in, but after picking out several small bone fragments from my teeth, I kind of lost my appetite for it. I’d pass on the spinach next time too. It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t stand out.
The meal was good, but to be honest, I actually preferred our previous meal at nearby Abyssinia Restaurant - and it was much cheaper. I’m much more likely to return there or try one of the others in the ‘hood. Still, Ethiopian Diamond is a large place with a full bar that would be great for groups. Both restaurants, like so many others in the area, are also BYOB.