It’s been quite some time, years, in fact, since I’ve had a good Ethiopian meal. I ate plenty of Ethiopian when I lived in the Baltimore/DC area, but have only had it a few times in San Diego. The last time I had it was at the now-defunct Bayu in Hillcrest.
My husband, however, has never tried Ethiopian. I wanted to remedy this, and after hearing a few raves about Red Sea, we decided to try out this City Heights establishment touting “the best Ethiopian in San Diego.”
The décor is very simple, but the pride in the Ethiopian culture is evident with wall hangings depicting the flag, tourist attractions, cities, and past leaders.
After sitting down and scanning the menus, we ordered the beef tibs, which is strips of top sirloin marinated then stir-fried with onion and spices. Kik Alicha, yellow stewed split peas, was ordered as an additional side dish for a very small cost. Ethiopian cuisine has a very large selection of tasty vegetarian options, so this is a great place to take vegetarian friends.
Everything was served on a giant injera (Ethiopian sour dough bread) pancake, with additional injera on the side.
The food was amazing! Everything was so flavorful, and because we used the bread as utensils, extremely filling. We ate almost everything, but were full to bursting after all of that.
After dinner, we ordered the Ethiopian coffee ceremony (my husband’s primary reason for choosing Ethiopian food for the evening!). The coffee ceremony is usually for 4 people, but the price is so reasonable ($10), that we decided to get it anyway. The beans are roasted in a pan and brought to the table, then taken into the back, ground, and placed into a clay pot. A filter (traditionally of horsehair, but plastic for California) is placed into the bottom, then boiling water is poured over it.
Served with frankincense for atmosphere, the coffee was a beautiful amber-colored liquid, and although quite strong, was very good.