This past Valentines Day, the Denver Restaurant Examiner suggested Ethiopian food as a cheap and romantic dinner. As Ethiopian is one of my husband’s favorite cuisines, it seemed like a great idea for a rare night out without Drew. After dropping Drew off at the Denver Zoo’s Bunk With the Beasts Overnight Adventure, we headed to 2816 Colfax to check out Ethiopian Restaurant, one of the restaurants recommended by Jacob Harkins in his review on Examiner.com. Although this small establishment was not prepared for the Valentine’s rush (we were there for over 3 hours), the food was delicious.
Although Mr. Harkins was right on in suggesting the communal dining experience that is Ethiopian food as a romantic dining adventure, it occurred to us as we we were eating our meal that Ethiopian is a particularly kid-friendly fair. A selection of meats and vegetables served on a giant round tray covered with a tart and chewy pancake called injera, Ethiopian food is served without utensils. Instead, you are given more injera pancakes that you tear up and use to scoop up food off the tray. In other words, you get to eat with your fingers and play with your food.
We recently tested our theory by taking Drew to Nile Ethiopian Restaurant, 1951 S. Havana St. in Aurora, and the experiment was a success. He loved the injera as well as many of the dishes we ordered. He particularly liked the Doro Wat, a chicken stew that comes with a hard boiled egg. Although the Doro Wot at Nile Ethiopian was not particularly spicy (it can be), it does have a distinctive taste. If your kids are picky eaters, I would recommend ordering a variety of dishes as they are bound to find something they like. We also had a vegetarian sampler, which comes with salad, different kinds of lentils, potatoes, and cabbage — all of which were tasty and not spicy. If anything, I would describe the overall character of these dishes as tangy. Although I am particularly fond spicy stewed beef tips, the “special tibs” at Nile Ethiopian are essentially fajitas. They are served on a sizzling skillet with onions and peppers but no sauce (other than butter). Drew was a big fan. Although I thought we would have leftovers, he polished off this fairly large portion of beef (I think it is easily enough meat for a family of four). What can I say? He is a growing boy…
Nile Ethiopian was much larger than Ethiopian Restaurant and might be a better spot for a family meal. Although the food was great at both establishments, I found the dishes at Ethiopian Restaurant to be spicier than those offered at Nile Ethiopian. For a true Ethiopian experience, ask to be seated at one of the traditional woven basket tables offered at Nile Ethiopian (assuming your are willing to sit on small chairs that are low to the floor).