4134 N Vancouver Ave # 207 (almost at Skidmore; entrance on Williams Street)
the menu: ethiopianbusiness.net/Advertisers/Dalos_Kitchen_Catering_Menu.html
get there via trimet
find a bike route
Vegan friends of mine have been crazy about Dalo's since it was the San Rafael Cafe. For the longest time, I haven't been eating Ethiopian after having some severe stomach distress after eating (primarily incendiary dishes like kitfo), and recently, my doc has had me on a vegan plant-based regime of no oil, no salt, and no sugar. So if it sounds like I'm not totally myself, that's thoroughly true.
Anyhow, we ended up Dalo's on a rainy Monday night. The dining room is nothing to write home about: lineoleum floors, tables and chairs, tourism posters from Ethiopia taped up next to folk art. And when I was there, there were exactly two people working, in spite of having five full tables and a lot of regular walk-in pick-up business. So to say that service was relaxed and leisurely is quite possibly stretching it. One of the two rooms has a TV if you need to catch Larry King. We didn't, so we sat in the front half.
The clientele is very interesting. Being an African restaurant, I expect Reed students and lesbians, but there were also hipsters and white guys and African-Americans just coming in to pick up their dinner. I also noticed that the staff and some of the clientele recognized each other -- this is obviously a hang out for some.
The menu is simple: a couple of American sandwiches, a handful of meat dishes, and a handful of vegetarian dishes. They have several types of Ethiopian beer as well. We ordered the vegetarian platter ($8.99) with jalapeno paste. The meat dishes include my old favorite, kitfo ($6.99/$11.99), awaze tibbs (beef or chicken in a spicy sauce,
$5.99/$9.99), and tibbs (beef, chicken or lamb [+$2] in a mild sauce, $5.99/$9.99).
Now, the press hasn't been terribly kind to them when it comes to meat dishes, and chicken in particular. Just be warned. And online blogs warn that other places are tastier. But the combo of taste and price is pretty winning to me.
When our food arrived, it came on a huge platter. Ethiopian food is all about family style, and that's the case here as well. Two huge pieces of injera (flatbread made from fermented teff) lined the platter, and our vegetarian entrees came in small dishes: atkilt (stewed cabbage, carrot & potato), gomen (spinach sauteed with onions), kay misir (spicy lentils), and alicha misir (mild lentils). Now, I might have the names wrong as I didn't steal a menu! While the spicy lentils and the jalapeno paste were spicy, neither was insanely hot, so those of you aiming for a kitfo endorphin rush will want to ask for it spicy when you order.
The injera was room temperature, but the entrees were nice and warm, and very tasty. We were both swooning over the contrasts of tastes, the 180 degree difference between the two lentil dishes, the sweet soothing cabbage, the almost greens-like gomen. We ate until we were both groaning, and we still had food to take home. The staff were as attentive as they could be, refilling water, and offering additional injera and jalapeno paste. And when I went to pay up, our total was $13, for a vegetarian platter, a beer, and some extra injera and jalapeno paste. Whoa!
That's cheaper than food!
Now, I didn't ask the hard questions about butter. Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisines both value a clarified, berbered butter which can often be the basis of the cuisine. The Willamette Week, in an undated article online, claims that everything on the vegetarian platter is vegan, but they also list different dishes in vegetarian platter. I wanted to ask, but my sweetie wouldn't let me -- I'm sure so if I choose to stay vegan, that we can come back.