Ethiopia in San Diego

Scott McLean

Imagine a restaurant in which food is served without cutlery not just burgers and fries, but entire meals that include seafood, tofu and more. Such an experience might seem strange to many Americans, but it is the traditional way of eating for Ethiopians, offered by the Muzlita Abyssinian Bistro in University Heights.

The Ethiopian food served at the bistro is a different, but great, adaptation of well-known food products that most patrons will recognize, from collard greens to leg of lamb. I ordered a mix of vegetarian and seafood dishes.

I sampled Prawn Kilwa, which consists of a spicy sauce called Awaze and prawns. The Awaze is a mixture of hot peppers, garlic, ginger, salt and other Ethiopian spices. Also included in the dish was a concoction of ground chickpeas and spices called Shiro.

The entire meal was served on top of bread called Injera, which has the consistency of a very moist sponge and looks like a pancake. By far the most unusual part of the meal, the Injera is used as both the plate and the utensil.

The bread has a slightly sweet taste and kind of melts in your mouth, and makes for a fun and unusual dining experience.

The bistro offers a nice variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian options for all tastes from mild to spicy and moderate in price. The average price of a main course is $13 but can go as high as $21 for the bistro’s Ono Tsebhi main course.

The meals at the bistro are typically served family style. This allows for everyone to share and enjoy in a traditional Ethiopian dining experience. If you prefer to have your own plate they will accommodate you and split the meals.

The restaurant provides a small and intimate setting, filled with low lights and rich dark woods, which makes the bistro a great place to take a date.

The overall dining experience is fun and rewarding and will bring you back for more.

4.5/5

Meals range in price from $12 to $21
4651 Park Blvd. San Diego, CA 92116
Hours of operation
Monday – Thursday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Friday and Saturday 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Sunday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Friday lunch 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Reservations (619) 546-7900