Saturday, July 8, 2017

Desta Ethiopian Kitchen - Emory - Atlanta Georgia

You can find Desta Ethiopian Kitchen at 3086 Briarcliff Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30329 very near the Clairmont Rd Exit from I85 in the front of the Williamsburg Village shopping center that features several restaurants like the very popular Himalayan Spice. Park in the lots out front and to the sides.

I surprised myself by discovering I hadn't yet reviewed Desta (Ethiopian for "Happiness") - I guess I've been eating here so long I just assumed that I had already done so. This is my go-to place for Ethiopian cuisine - something i was really unfamiliar with (I had tasted the famous, spongy injera bread as one of my short-term neighbors growing up was on a team of archeologists in the region, forced out by the civil war - later my neighbor across the street from my previous home was from the State of Eritrea and they delighted us with some home-cooked meals - at that point I was hooked!). Injera is one of those things you either like or you don't - the consistency and strong yeasty smell can be off-putting. Once you have a few bites it's easy to get sold on it though, so don't give up.

The building that houses Desta is a bit quirky with dining on the second floor. There's a bar and a patio that becomes quite full when it's not too hot. This place has limited seating so either come early (on weekend evenings) or visit during off-times. The menu is broken up into Breakfast, Appetizers, Signature Entrees, Kitfo (Ethiopian-styled steak tartar), Fir Fir (soaked injera), Sandwiches, Pasta/Rice, Salads, Vegan, and The Rest. The vegan here is surprisingly good and recommended pretty much by all my vegan friends. This food is very spicy and can be very hot (which I recommend) so they offer Beer, Wine and Spirits (don't trust the servers on the mixed drinks though - be very specific on how you want cocktails that are more than "Gin and Tonic" to be made and be prepared to wait. On one occasion one of my friends received a margarita made with vodka. I tired the Ethiopian Beer - St George - it's an Amber that goes well with the spicy food.

My favorite items on the menu are the platters - the Vegetarian Platter provides a great amount of variety including shiro (chickpea stew), misir (spicy split red lentil stew), ater (split pea stew), dinech wot (potato stew), gomen (collard greens), tikel gomen (cabbage), salad, azifa, beets and tomato fit fit - you pretty much get to taste it all. My favoirte is the gomen - I love greens. You also get your choice of bread and I recommend you first get an appetizer with injera to make sure you like it and if so, roll with it (you'll understand the pun there when you see it).

On this occasion we started with the Gomen-Siljo Dip - a blended dish of tofu and gomen seasoned with garlic, ginger, hot mustard and olive oil. We got both the pita and the injera - it's a bit like eating a chunky hummus and quite good. I also recommend the Tomato Fit Fit.

We also ordered the Meat Lovers Tibs (cubed meat sauteed in spice blends with onions, tomatos, peppers and spiced olive oil - I ordered this extra spicy and its very similar to a hot curry or vindaloo) - this is a huge platter of meats (you choose 3 different), the bread (injera) and your side. We ordered the gomen and fit fit (thinking that we needed something green to offset all the meat). There's plenty here for 2-3 people. This dish, regardless of the meats you choose, is the proverbial BOMB!

On another occasion I've ordered the  lamb Tib extra spicy (notice the red?) - delicious. and a less saucy version of the chicken. But really, everything here is so good you won't complain.

Service here is very good - they keep bringing out the pita or injera as you use it up and they're good about keeping your water full, which you'll need - oh and I should mention that the food is designed to be picked up with a piece of bread - you tear off a piece and pinch the food with it, popping it into your mouth. This is interactive food at it's best (and make sure you only eat with your right hand).

-- John

(also posted to Yelp)
Desta Ethiopian Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

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