Look deep into San Jose’s diverse culinary scene and you’ll find the exquisite harmony of flavors + aromatic dishes of Ethiopian cuisine.
Whether it comes as a surprise or not, the great 408 boasts plenty of Ethiopian restaurants — with one of them being a San Jose staple for 20+ years.
If you’re unfamiliar with the fare, expect lots of spices, stews, and curries. These are traditionally served atop a large, spongy bread called injera — which is meant to be torn off and dipped. Ready to dig in? Let’s go.
🥘 Zeni, 1320 Saratoga Ave.
This establishment is one of the oldest Ethiopian restaurants in San Jose, and was opened by a married couple who emigrated from Ethiopia in the 1990s. Owner Zeni prepares a specialty dish from her hometown in central Ethiopia — kitfo (Ethiopian beef steak tartar) with mitmita (a hot spice blend).
🥘 Gojo, 1261 W. San Carlos St.
Enjoy generous portions — and fresh sambusas (fried pockets of meat or lentils) — at this family-owned eatery. If you have any dietary restrictions, don’t worry, you can request gluten-free injera bread and find comfort in the fact that most of its vegetable entrees are vegan.
🥘 LeYou, 1100 N. First St.
Incorporating new Ethiopian cooking styles, LeYou offers a modern spin on the traditional. Most notably, you can order a pescetarian version of kitfo with tuna — which is one of its most popular dishes. The staff is extremely helpful to newcomers, so don’t be intimidated as they’ll be happy to explain their menu in detail.
🥘 Mudai, 503 W. San Carlos St.
Step into Mudai and prepare to be instantly transported with large-scale murals of Ethiopia + Eritrea that decorate its walls. We suggest ordering the honey wine, honey tea, or an Ethiopian beer to accompany the restaurant’s delicious veggie or meat combos.