The little Ethiopian restaurant hidden away inside the Shabelle Grocery used to be one of the best-kept secrets in the Seward neighborhood—until recently, there was no sign outside to indicate that Shabelle was more than just a grocery store. Finally, last week, they put a sign in the window announcing their new $8.99 lunch buffet, served Monday to Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
This is not one of those 100-item strip mall mega-buffets. When I visited, there were only about half a dozen items to choose from, mostly vegetarian: red lentils, yellow split peas and stewed black-eyed peas, collard greens, linguine in a beefy tomato sauce, seasoned rice, a Greek salad and injera, the traditional spongy sourdough flat bread. What struck me was how fresh and flavorful everything tasted.
There’s lots more on the a la carte menu, ranging from kitfo (Ethiopia’s version of steak tartare) and rice with goat meat (both $10); Middle Eastern dishes like felafel, gyros, and chicken kabobs; and even a Buffalo chicken wrap and a hamburger (most items $5.99). The breakfast menu includes foule (refried seasoned fava beans, $6), scrambled eggs ($4.99), sambousas (stuffed pastry triangles, 50 cents apiece), and fatira (pita bread cooked with eggs, green peppers, onions in olive oil, $5).