So where do you find the best Ethiopian restaurant in San Jose? It depends on what you are looking for. First things first, I have been devouring my favorite cuisine since I was very young. I had the privilege to experience all types Ethiopian dishes from various East Bay and South Bay Area restaurants to straight from the kitchen of my Ethiopian family friends home.

What exactly is Ethiopian food? Amazing flavorful veggies, lentils and meats on one big spread (on top of injera). You use injera with your hands to pick up the item of your choice that is on the main dish.

What do I order and how do I order? Ethiopian food is meant to be shared, but sometimes I go solo and eat the whole thing by myself. I ALWAYS order the veggie combo which typically consists of Atkilt wot (cabbage and potatoes), Gomen(collard greens),Mesir wot (split red lentils),Kik alicha (split pea) and an amazing salad in the middle. If I do decide to order meat, I always stick to chicken (tibs) since I don’t eat anything on four legs. You can get a better idea of what each dish looks like and see the ingredients that are used (can vary depending on who is preparing it)  HERE. Also, are you vegan and/or gluten-free? Ethiopian food offers vegan options (just order the veggie dishes) and gluten-free options, the injera is made out of teff.

Where do I get Ethiopian food? Here are three San Jose (ish, one is in Saratoga) restaurants that I have been to. Please note, this is an honest review solely based on my multiple experiences with each restaurants:

Zeni: Is located in Saratoga off of 85. Zeni provides customers the option of regular seating or an authentic dining experience. The food is excellent and always consistent (I have been coming here for years). They provide generous portions and each dish is filled with flavor. The layout is a little on the small side and the wait can be a little insane ( 45 minute to an hour wait) during peak hours since the food is that good. However, the down side, I have experienced very poor customer service multiple times and have hung up the phone annoyed that no one picked up my call so that I could place an order for pickup.

Mudai: Is located off of 87 in downtown San Jose on West San Carlos. This restaurant is my new favorite spot that I currently go to. The food is OFF THE CHAIN!  Some dishes in my opinion are better or equal to Zeni’s in flavor and are the same portion size however, Mudai is extremely generous with their meat portions.  Mudai’s customer service is consistently excellent. There is never a wait and the food comes out in less than 10 minutes still hot off of the stove. The restaurant is located in an odd area with a tiny parking lot in the back, but, the restaurant layout is a good size and is super causal (perfect for kids and families).

Walia: Located off of 880 on West San Carlos. This restaurant is on the smaller side located in an interesting small shopping center (you will get why it is interesting if you chose to visit). The customer service was AMAZING however, the portions were a lot smaller than I am used to. There is definitely a difference in flavor (less flavor to my taste buds) and although it was a lovely atmosphere, it didn’t make up for the food. Maybe I came in on an off day. I will have to try again and see if I am wrong.

Interested in trying out my favorite cuisine?! If you decide to go, let me know what your favorite restaurant is! Oh, and families with little ones, this is the perfect finger food for kids to eat, play and enjoy (E loves it).


Olivia Irene

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