FINGER FOOD: At Queen of Sheba, sharing is encouraged, forks are forbidden, and the food is spicy and fun. photography by Kevin Hunter Marple

Review: Queen of Sheba

The Queen has relocated to Addison, but the food is still an exotic treat.

Dining at the Queen—as it’s affectionately referred to by longtime patrons—will divide your table into two groups: the newbies (“You mean, we really have to eat with our fingers?”) and the converted (“Long live the Queen! Bring on the injera.”). That spongy, crepe-like bread is an Ethiopian mainstay, used in lieu of utensils to pick, scoop, and then pop the Queen’s savory meats and veggies into your mouth.

For fans of the Queen, the injera has been a long time coming. Owners Elsa and Berhane Kiflom had to close their Uptown restaurant three years ago due to the increasing rent. Sadly, their new Addison spot isn’t as cute and kitschy as the Uptown locale. Gone are the grass and bamboo huts. Instead, the new Queen sports plenty of ivory trim, cream-colored walls, and honeyed tones. It’s more elegant, less ethnic. But the Kifloms remain warm and gracious, and the food is still an exotic treat.

People with territorial issues need not dine at the Queen, as meals are served family-style. A large piece of injera is stretched across a round platter. Small mounds of food are placed on top of it. Then you simply tear off some of the porous bread, pick up a bite (yes, with your fingers), and eat it. The act is simple. The food, however, is fragrant and memorable.

Start with the sambusas, crispy turnovers stuffed with spicy ground beef. Then move on to one of the Queen’s combination entrées. The Doro Watt features hot and spicy stewed chicken and Sheba’s salad, a mix of tomato, onion, and jalapeño. The dish also includes three veggie dishes common to most of the Queen’s combination platters: yataklete alitcha (a sauté of cabbage, potatoes, and carrots), gomen (chopped greens sautéed with garlic and onion), and missir alitcha (nutty puréed lentils). The Yebeg Wott combo, buttery lamb stew accompanied by the above sides, is a bit milder. Other highlights include steak tartare, doro alitcha (chicken simmered in garlic and ginger), and the Queen’s Dinner. For the latter, you get an appetizer, entrée, and dessert; an aperitif; wine with the meal; and a special ceremonial hand washing to begin the feast—all for only $30.

The Queen also does Italian, a nod to Ethiopia’s one-time occupier. The chicken cacciatore and spaghetti bolognese are particularly good. But pasta requires forks. And at the Queen, the food is finger-licking good. Grab some injera and join the adventure.

Get contact information for Queen of Sheba.

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