8 of the best Ethiopian restaurants in London
Tracking down delicious Ethiopian dishes in this food-obsessed city has never been easier
It may have taken a few years, but Ethiopian cuisine is now – thankfully – an integral part of London’s sprawling culinary map. This is hardly surprising, given the wonderful array of flavours, colours and spices packed into so many traditional Ethiopian dishes. And then there’s injera. This soft, spongy, fermented, fantastic flatbread is made with teff flour (naturally gluten-free, as it happens, and derived from teff, an ancient grain whose praises have been sung far and wide) and arrives either rolled into crêpe-esque pancakes or blanket-like, as a kind of secondary plate to secure generous portions of various main and side dishes.
One of the many great things about Ethiopian food is that it’s perfect for social eating, as the combination plates readily available at most restaurants offer a chance for multiple diners to try small amounts of numerous dishes, served on one or more giant, unfolded injera, waiting to be ripped and wrapped. But solo diners needn’t fear, as pretty much all restaurants also provide combination platters for one as standard, meaning that no one misses out
Luckily, there’s no shortage of London venues serving up superb Ethiopian cuisine, so we’ve picked out a few favourites below. Some are set in bustling areas that invite new custom each day, some are hidden in plain sight and some are just plain hidden, but all are absolutely worth seeking out.
If you’ve never tried Ethiopian food before, these restaurants will give a fine introduction to the cuisine. If you’ve already tried any of the venues below, or others around London, we’re pretty sure you won’t need much/any encouragement to return.
Set on ever-lively Kingsland Road in east London’s Dalston, Cafe Andu is a cosy but vibey spot. The menu consists of six dishes, served either via a sampler (offering a small amount of each option, with both injera and rice) or traditional plate (larger portions of all six, served on a large tray of injera). Here are those six dishes you’ll be savouring: misir wot, shiro (a stew made with chickpea flour), fesolia/fosolia (green beans and carrots with ginger and turmeric), tikil gomen (mildly spiced cabbage and potatoes), ater kik (a split pea stew) and gomen (made with collard greens).
528 Kingsland Rd, London E8 4AH
Based in Brixton, this family-run restaurant used to be a bakery years ago, and there’s still a lot of bread served in the venue today, in the form of – yep – glorious injera, used to cushion huge portions of colourful, nourishing stews. Injera is also utilised in the firfir, a dish where chunks of the bread are torn off and fried with onion, garlic, tomato and the ever-welcome berbere.
86 Brixton Hill, London SW2 1QN
One of the newer additions to London’s Ethiopian culinary scene, Beza opened in Southwark’s buzzy Elephant Park development in 2019 after starting out as a market stall and pop-up. It’s quickly become a much-loved neighbourhood spot thanks to the brilliant cooking of owner Beza Berhanu, who grew up in Addis Ababa and later studied to be a nutritionist in London. Alongside popular dishes like misir wot (gently spiced red lentils), kik wot (a yellow split pea stew) and spinach gomen (a side dish of leafy greens, often using collard greens), make sure to try the ground chickpeas with rosemary and jalapeños.
8A Sayer St, London SE17 1FH
A popular neighbourhood staple for anyone living in or visiting Kentish Town, The Queen of Sheba is actually just minutes away from Lalibela (see below), but our advice is make time to visit both. The menu here offers individual dishes, plus chef’s specials and sharing platters that feed up to three people very generously. There’s also a sizeable wine list featuring upmarket tipples if you’re feeling flush (Châteauneuf-du-Pape, anyone?) or tej – Ethiopian honey wine – if you want to keep it traditional, plus Ethiopian beers including Meta and St George.
12 Fortess Rd, London, NW5 2EU
Named after the Ethiopian town where owner Tafeswork Belayneh was born and grew up in, this long-standing restaurant in southeast London’s Camberwell has built up a large and loyal customer base over the years thanks to consistently excellent cooking. A popular addition to the wide-ranging menu is kategna, strips of lightly toasted injera with berbere (a dry spice mix with red chilis, cumin and coriander) and niter kibbeh, a spiced butter. Also look out for specials like key sir alicha – beets and potatoes with garlic and ginger.
216-218 Camberwell Rd, London SE5 0ED
Another venue showcasing the range of traditional Ethiopian dishes that happen to be naturally vegan, Addis has an intentionally stripped-back menu, but one that sees everything cooked with care. Popular stews like shiro wot and misir wot are present and delicious, but as with many of the restaurants featured, the smart choice is the beyaynetu (combination platter), which lets you try a little of everything, served with a healthy helping of injera, of course.
244 Old Kent Rd, London SE1 5UB
Opened in 1993, north London’s Lalibela has become a favourite amongst Kentish Town and Tufnell Park locals. The menu differs a little from some of London’s other Ethiopian restaurants, in that it offers a big selection of individual mains, alongside starters and desserts. Whatever you go for, grab the injera rolls soaked in citrusy sauce with tomatoes, onions and spices to start and then take your pick from a long list of wot (stews) and tibs (stir fried) options – the duba (pumpkin) wot comes highly recommended. After the meal, opt for a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony, enjoyed amongst Lalibela’s delightful hotchpotch of old wooden furniture, wall hangings, ornaments and paintings.
137 Fortess Rd, London NW5 2HR
‘Homely’ is a word that gets thrown around a lot when describing restaurants, but it really couldn’t be more apt in the case of this north London treasure, nestled away on a residential street near the top of Caledonian Road in Islington. It’s a small, warmly decorated spot and feels ultimately cosy thanks to the care and hospitality of founder and owner Getenesh, who opened Kokeb in 1999. The food is fantastic and feels wonderfully homecooked, and you’ll find all the classics on the menu alongside the highly recommended combination plates, which offer dishes like atkilt wot (cabbage, potatoes and other vegetables, richly spiced) and fosolia. Also worth trying is ful, a dish of fava beans with lemon and cumin.
45 Roman Way, London N7 8XF