Review: Ras Dashen

I don’t know about you, but for me, the more interactive the meal, the better the experience. There is a small distinction though: I detest forced seating. I don’t want to sit at a long table with Jerry from Alabama, his cousin Bertha and three tourists new to Chicago looking for the Sears Tower. I want to commune and interact with people of my choosing! Ethiopian food forces interaction; the ritual of tearing injera, dipping it into communal dishes and sharing a small table hopefully prompts multiple pre-dinner hand-washings.

Ras Dashen, located in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood, focuses on authentic Ethiopian comfort food. Fun fact: Ras Dashen is the highest mountain in Ethiopia (and fourth highest in Africa), and is located in the Simien Mountains National Park. Ras Dashen offers a large selection of vegetarian & vegan dishes since the Ethiopians observe over 100 days of fasting during which the Ethiopian Orthodox church mandates having no meat, fat, eggs or milk (I thought the Master Cleanse was rough!). Other than vegan choices, the cuisine is also rich in lamb, poultry and beef either sautéed to perfection or prepared in the unique spicy hot stew called ‘Wot ‘ or its mild counterpart ‘Alicha’.

Spinach sambusas—hot, crispy dumplings—are a fine way to start your meal. I’m a fan of the vegetarian combo platter: an assortment of your choice of vegan or vegetarian dishes. Try cold or hot lentils, beet salads, pumpkin or mushroom wot, and sauteed greens. We also love their tilapia dishes, Asa Wat (boneless tilapia fillets cooked in a spicy berbere sauce) or Asa Tibs (boneless tilapia fillets cooked with ginger, garlic, and Ethiopian spices.

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Ethiopian beer and wine is suggested to complement the intense spices and rich flavors of the food. Once you’re on the cusp of a food coma, order Ethiopian espresso….shazam! You’ll quickly be back in action, bopping to the beats of the band normally in residence at this neighborhood gem.

Ras Dashen
5846 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL
(773) 506-9601

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