Ethiopian food is one of the most fascinating and delicious cuisines in the world thanks to its rich dishes, varied flavors and enough spices to make you jump up and down with excitement.

Ethiopian cuisine usually consists of vegetarian or meat dishes in a form of a thick stew, served with the famous injera bread. Injera is a large sourdough flatbread made of fermented teff flour and is meant to be eaten with your hands. An Ethiopian meal without injera is practically illegal!

Despite the similarities to Israeli food culture, such as communal dining and large hearty portions, Ethiopian cuisine has not yet integrated into the Israeli mainstream.

Fortunately, in recent years Ethiopian food has found its way into the hearts of local foodies thanks to a perfect mixture of healthy ingredients, intense flavors, and a wide variety of vegan options.

In Israel, most traditional Ethiopian restaurants are in Tel Aviv, but you can find a few fantastic ones in other areas of the country. These establishments are usually unpretentious and have warmhearted hosts.

Beyond their desire to serve the traditional dishes from their childhood home, your hosts will also be happy to share stories about the fascinating Ethiopian culture.

Lastly, don’t forget to order spicy Ethiopian coffee, which is considered one of the hallmarks of Ethiopian cuisine.

Check out our top picks for the most authentically delicious Ethiopian spots in Israel:

Tel Aviv

Balinjera

Ashagar Araro and her aunt Fanta Prada, at the Balinjero restaurant in Tel Aviv. Photo by Nicky Blackburn

According to Balinjera’s owner, Fanta Pradal, in Ethiopian culture sharing a meal is an important social event and for this reason, she chose to name her restaurant Balinjera, “togetherness” in Amharic. This charming Ethiopian restaurant, located between Tel Aviv’s Yemenite Quarter and the Carmel Market, offers traditional Ethiopian dishes such as Tibs Balinjera (beef stir-fry with black pepper, onion and rosemary) as well as meals with Israeli influence like roasted eggplant with Ethiopian tahini.

Balinjera offers authentic Ethiopian cuisine in Tel Aviv. Photo by Nicky Blackburn

Balinjera

4 Malan St. / 39HaKovshim St., Tel Aviv | Sunday-Thursday 11am-9pm, Friday 10-4

Almaz Mendel 

Almaz Mendel is a new Ethiopian restaurant in Tel Aviv’s hip Florentin neighborhood. They have street-food vibes and prepare authentic Ethiopian food in a variety of shapes and toppings. Here you will find injera rolls perfect to grab on the go. We recommend the injera roll tibs filled with curry-seasoned chicken and a side of white cabbage, lettuce and tomato salad. Pair the roll with an Ethiopian beer and you’re golden.

Almaz Mendel

4 Yedidya Frenkel St., Tel Aviv | Sunday-Thursday noon to 2am, Friday until 5pm

Lalibela 

Photo courtesy of Lalibela

Tali Sisai, an entrepreneur who dreamed of establishing a Jewish-Ethiopian heritage museum, is the owner of Lalibela Restaurant (named after an ancient city in Ethiopia). In addition to serving fantastic authentic Ethiopian food, they also offer a cultural experience with performances, music and an art gallery. On the menu, you will find a dish called Kinche, a porridge made from cracked wheat and traditionally eaten as a nutritious breakfast; Gomen, a chard stew; Dinich, a potato stew; and Wat, a stew with beef or chicken and eggs.

Lalibela

43 HaAliya St., Tel Aviv | Sunday-Thursday noon to 11pm, Friday 11-4

Habash 

Savor the Ethiopian coffee at Habash, Tel Aviv. Photo courtesy of Habash

Habash is a unique kosher Ethiopian restaurant, established by Emanuel Hedna, a former lawyer who strives to bring Ethiopian food to the Israeli public. Habash is known for large and generous dishes served to the center of the table, perfect for sharing. The restaurant’s design of a cabin in an Ethiopian village adds to the unique atmosphere and the dishes are based on ingredients commonly used in Ethiopia: peas, lentils, chickpeas, potatoes, carrots, beets, chicken, lamb, beef and fish.

Habash

10 HaNegev St., Tel Aviv | Sunday-Thursday 11am-11pm, Friday until one hour before Shabbat

Lucy Ethiopian Restaurant 

Lucy is an authentic Ethiopian family-owned restaurant in South Tel Aviv. The establishment is quite small with a limited number of seats but once you step in, you discover the amazing smells, delicious food, large portions and kind service. The menu is rich and colorful and includes meat, chicken and vegetarian dishes. We recommend the vegan dish, made with five types of stews: chickpeas, green beans, carrots, potatoes and peas.

Lucy Ethiopian Restaurant

46 Menachem Begin Blvd., Tel Aviv | Sunday-Friday 10am-11pm, Saturday noon to 10pm

Теnat 

Tenat is a small vegan restaurant with an intimate and homey atmosphere, serving a selection of traditional Ethiopian home-cooked dishes. We recommend their signature plate, homemade injera with a variety of vegan toppings, such as split peas, spinach and mushroom stews. Don’t miss their excellent Ethiopian beer or the “kita firfir,” a kind of pancake made from teff flour and served with vegan butter and tomato sauce.

Теnat

27 Chlenov St., Tel Aviv | Sunday-Thursday noon-11pm, Friday 11-4

Southern Israel

Enanye

In the heart of Ashkelon you’ll find Enanye, a kosher restaurant that offers a rich and varied menu with the flavors and cooking styles of traditional Ethiopian cuisine. The recipes were passed down for generations, and everything is freshly handmade. The menu consists of injera with different stews made with chicken, beef or delicious vegetarian and vegan alternatives.

Enanye

7 Shpinoza St., Ashkelon | Sunday-Thursday 10am-10pm, Friday 8-1:30

Tzlal Ethiopian Restaurant

Tzlal is in a beautiful alley in the Old City in Beersheva. It’s not only a restaurant but also a pub, an open space to learn about Ethiopian culture and listen to African music. Tzlal offers three dishes only: vegetarian with lentil, peas, potatoes, carrots and cabbage stew and salad; a beef stew in red sauce or beef with onion and green pepper; or a serving of Dabo bread (sweet Ethiopian challah) and injera.

Tzlal Ethiopian Restaurant

37 Beit Eshel St., Beersheva | Sunday-Thursday 1pm-8pm, Friday noon-4:30

Northern Israel

Mama’s Restaurant 

An authentic Ethiopian restaurant located within a commercial center in Haifa, HaMis’ada Shel Ima (Hebrew for Mama’s Restaurant) offers heavenly traditional Ethiopian food served in a special ceremony. On the menu, you’ll find vegan and meat dishes, both of which are delicious and generous in size.

Mama’s Restaurant

20 Ha-Nevi’im St., Haifa | Sunday-Thursday noon-8pm, Friday 11-5

Gramachin Center – Ethiopian Experience

Located in a beautiful Beta Israel village, the Gramachin Center’s goal is to bring awareness to the Israeli Ethiopian community and expose visitors to the history, art, and culture of Ethiopian Jews. They offer delicious Ethiopian food, creative workshops, coffee ceremonies and music. A delicious meal at the center includes various stews with injera and traditional Ethiopian coffee. We recommend the Dabo with rice and potatoes seasoned with no less than 12 different spices.

Gramachin Center – Ethiopian Experience

Ganey Huggan Junction, Roman Bridge, Alon gas station, Beit She’an | Reservations by prior arrangement