Restaurant Review: Ras Dashen Ethiopian Restaurant

This weekend I went to Ras Dashen Ethiopian Restaurant in the north side Edgewater neighborhood. Ethiopian food is beginning to become some of my favorite African cuisine. This past summer, I checked out Demera Ethiopian Restaurant, also on the north side. I visited Ras Dashen in 2014, my first time trying Ethiopian food. My boyfriend and I decided to check it out again since we were in the mood for Ethiopian cuisine.

Ras Dashen is owned by chef Zenash Beyene, a Beta Israel (Ethiopian Hebrew) native of Belese, Ethiopia. It is co-owned by her husband Kevin Swier. The restaurant is named after the Ras Dashen mountains, close to Beyene's hometown and the highest mountains in Ethiopia. In March 2001, Beyene opened the restaurant with the motto "Comfort Food from the Mountains of Ras Dashen". Ever since then, the establishment has been one of the most popular of Ethiopian dining in the city of Chicago.

Ras Dashen is a cozy, dimly lit eatery with beautiful Ethiopian art decorating the walls and there's even a full bar in the back of the restaurant. Regardless of the snow, the place was full of customers ready to chow down on delicious East African cuisine. Not only does Ras Dashen have your typical Western table and chairs, but there are also traditional Ethiopian mesobs. These are absolutely beautiful! Mesobs are short, woven wicker tables with colorful trays adorned with Ethiopian artwork surrounded by wicker, cushioned chairs. 

For an appetizer, I had the Cucumber Salad drizzled in oil based Zenash dressing (named after the owner), spices with sweetened walnuts, onions, and carrots. I loved the walnuts the best because of the sweetened taste, I wish more were added in. My boyfriend had the Sambusa, mini pastries filled with beef with dip on the side. Customers have the option to choose either, chickpeas or spinach as fillings.

Gluten free injera bread on the side for me.

Ethiopian food is served on injera bread, a circular, sourdough bread used as a plate and utensils to scoop up the food instead of using silverware. Yes that's right, you eat with your hand, My boyfriend had the Yebeg Wat, lamb in dark berbere sauce while I had the Asa Tbis, a tilapia dish with sauteed veggies. For a side dish, we both chose the Qosta, "fresh spinach with onions, garlic, and Ethiopian spices."  The spinach is some of the freshest spinach I've ever had, as well as the fish. The meal was hot, and well seasoned as expected. What I like about Ethiopian food is that it definitely gets you full, and this dinner certainly did the job because I didn't even get a chance to finish eating.

I had a glass of 2012 South African Pinotage. I like a glass of wine every blue moon, it's good for you, ya know?

Service wise, our waiter was very friendly, patient, and very helpful. The food took a while to be served, but I had no issue with that because the place was busy, plus I'm a patient person. The prices are decent as well, right in the middle, not too low or high. It's hard to find restaurants that cater to special diets, but Ras Dashen is a great place for vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Gluten free options, barely any dairy filled food on the menu, vegetables galore, and meat. So if you follow a special diet, this place will be great for you. I have no complaints about Ras Dashen and I highly recommend it to all.

Rating: 9.5/10

Ras Dashen is located at 5846 N. Broadway St. open Sunday-Thursday from 11:00am-10:30pm, closed Tuesday, and Friday-Saturday 11:00am-11:00pm 773-506-9601. 



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