Ethiopian food is one of the most delicious and intimate cuisines in the world. For those unfamiliar, it has a rainbow of colorful spiced stews to share and eat with your hands. injera, a spongy flatbread made from fermented teff dough that excels at soaking up flavors. This is a very vegetarian-friendly cuisine that you should make time for if you’re ever in New York City.
The dish features lemons, beets, carrots, cabbage, tomatoes and potatoes with onions, garlic, jalapeños, vibrant Berbere spices and more. In place of fried meat, chefs will use mushrooms, seitan or tofu. If you’re new to Ethiopian food and still unsure, keep reading—the food photos will get you there.
6 Spots for Fantastic Vegetarian Ethiopian Food in NYC
If you’ve ever wanted a taste of Ethiopian and live in New York City, you’re in luck. Here are six restaurants where you can get fantastic vegetarian Ethiopian food:
Ras is plant based
1 Ras is plant based
For a mix of traditionally plant-based Ethiopian cuisine and vegetarian meat-centric options, check out Ras, an organic farm-to-table restaurant in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood.
To try a little bit of everything, choose from one of the restaurant’s two platters, each featuring a mix of stewed and spiced legumes, flavor-packed vegetables and either injera or rice. If you want something meatier, choose from the dinner section of the menu, which features spicy tofu, pea protein crumble, mushrooms and seitan tibs—a sautéed meat dish topped with a generous rub of house-made Berbere spice blend.
Swing by for brunch to find a mix of Ethiopian dishes like this one sprinkleA steamed dish consisting of tomatoes, onions, spices, and shredded injera—or Western dishes like vegan French toast and macaroni and cheese.
2 Bunna Cafe
This bustling all-vegan restaurant in Bushwick, Brooklyn started as a food truck a few years ago. This cozy establishment features wood finishes and low lighting during dinner hours to create an intimate date spot that’s large enough to accommodate large groups of people.
As for the food itself, you will find Sambas (a savory, triangular Ethiopian pastry filled with lentils or chilies), Shiro (Masala Boiled Chickpeas), the glue (steamed and spiced collard greens), mushroom tibs and more. Platters can serve two or up to nine people.
For dessert, there’s vegan baklava, made with crisp, flaky filo dough, pistachios, walnuts, and a coffee-infused sugar syrup made with demerer, a type of brown sugar with large, crunchy crystals.
Speaking of coffee, don’t skip it. Bunna Cafe serves it Ethiopian style, meaning it is freshly-fried, pounded in a mortar and pestle, and then seasoned with cardamom and cloves. It has a thicker texture than drip coffee. You can watch a live Ethiopian coffee show every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening at 5:30.
3 Makina Cafe is an Ethiopian-Eritrean eatery
Located in Long Island City, Queens and Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn, Makina Cafe serves Ethiopian-Eritrean cuisine in a bright yellow food truck.
This means that it’s pick-up only, but it also allows you to eat at a local park or enjoy a night in your apartment or hotel room. Although it is not completely vegetarian, plant-based options are mentioned on the menu.
The vegetarian bowl comes with three options in the vegetable section, including mushrooms, lentils and split peas, in addition to spiced vegetables. You choose from injera or a base of yellow basmati rice. Have lentil sambusa to whet your appetite.
Bati Ethiopian cuisine
4 Bati Ethiopian cuisine
Bati Ethiopian Kitchen is a favorite establishment where you will find traditional, vegetable-forward dishes. The menu includes a 100-percent vegetarian menu the glue, Shiro, miss bet (stewed spicy lentils), and Boutique (Grind chickpeas in onion and chilli mixture).
Combination platters can serve two, three or four people, so it’s a good place for intimate dinners with friends and family. Pineapple juice, wine and Ethiopian beer are on the drinks menu. In late 2022, the restaurant announced it was relocating to a new Brooklyn location to open in early 2023 so check its Instagram page for ongoing updates.
This vegetarian-friendly Ethiopian restaurant has three locations to choose from: Manhattan’s East Village and Upper West Side, or Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill. For plant-based options, just go to the “vegetables” section of the menu.
Here, you’ll find a whole spectrum of traditional Ethiopian dishes, starting from Shiro key sir alicha (spiced beets and carrots cooked with onions). Try the tofu tubs, featuring organic tofu cubes fried with tomato, onion and jalapeño.
If you want to try a little bit of everything, order the vegetable sampler. This meal includes five vegetarian dishes of your choice plus injera—always order extra.
Vegan entrees are clearly marked at this all-you-can-eat Ethiopian restaurant in Morningside Heights, just north of Columbia University. You can order a sampler platter – which comes with injera – for a bite or two, of course.
try timtimo (red lentils boiled with barberry and ginger), he will call (baked cabbage, potato, carrot and collard greens with turmeric), and tsebbi hamli (Cooked Banana Greens with Tomato and Barbere). Next, enjoy the architecture of Columbia University or Morningside Park, which features winding paths, native plants and a waterfall on a narrow strip of land that stretches for 13 blocks.
New York City’s vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurant scene allows you to sample a wide range of global cuisines. If you are someone who likes to travel for vegetarian food, it is better to visit just for the nosh.