Eating to Live on the Outside: Kaffa Crossing

This is my fault, but Eating to Live on the Outside does not spend enough time investigating Ethiopian restaurants. Ethiopian cuisine is VERY veggie heavy. Making it a GREAT choice! Remember Mesob, it was kick ass. So, this week we’re going Ethiopian again.

Kaffa Crossing is REALLY cool. Tons of veggie fare with an ethnic twist. Let’s start with the breakfast. You might not recognize these dishes, but they look yummy. I’m digging the Ful, Ful Special, and FirFir. I know, weird names, but check out the ingredients: crushed fava beans, onions, jalapeno peppers, tomato, cumin, Ethiopian spices, and injera—a pancake-like bread made out of teff flour. Not bad if you ask me!

As for the appetizers, also cool! I like the Timatim Fitfit. It’s made with injera, diced tomatoes, onions, jalapeno peppers, olive oil, lemon juice, and spics. The olive oil is a small concession. The Layered Tofu Wat is another good one; tofu sautéed in onions, garlic, red pepper, and injera. Not bad either. Lastly, the Injera Wraps look interesting. Their made with yellow split pea or spiced split lentil wrapped in injera. Split pea is usually a homerun for me.

Okay, onto the salad and soups. I’m cool with the Mediterranean Salad, the Kaffa Veggie Tuna Salad, the Hummus Platter, and the House Salad. Combined they include Romaine lettuce, olives, tomato, cucumber, red onion, feta cheese, sunflower seed paste, walnut, sprouts, lettuce, onion, hummus, roasted red peppers, eggplant, pita bread, and homemade dressing. Out of all this, I’m nixing the feta cheese. Everything else is cool—just limit the dressing.

The vegetarian section of the menu is LOADED. A lot of great stuff here! In fact, I like EVERY fish Kaffa Crossing serves up. My two favorites are the Tikel Gomen and the Ethiopian Vegetarian Combination. The Gomen is made with collard greens, onions, garlic, and spices. Now, the Ethiopian Vegetarian Combination includes yellow split peas, spiced split lentils, collard greens, string beans, carrots, and salad. Can you see why I like these two? The GREENS!

The other vegetarian dishes are worth a look too. Together the Shiro Wot, Misir Wot, Kik Aletcha Wot, Tikel Gomen, Tofu Wot, Okra Wot, and the Egglplant Wot are prepared with spicy ground chick peas, onions, Ethiopian spices, spiced lentils, yellow split peas, cabbage, carrots, ginger, tofu, garlic, okra, and tomatoes. Honestly, how can you argue with that stuff!

Now, if by some bizarre circumstance NONE of this pleases you. Kaffa Crossing allows you to create your own special veggie platter. You can pick from eggplant, cabbage, potato, carrots, okra, beets, tomato salad, lentil salad, and tofu. Again, where’s the problem here. I don’t see any! You’d have to be pretty skilled to screw this up—don’t you think?

Yeah Kaffa Crossing is cool beans—or should I say—cool split peas! One of these days I have to get up off my butt and actually try some Ethiopian cuisine—it’s long overdue. In the meantime, help me out. Check out Kaffa Crossing’s menu and let me know how you handle Eating to Live on the Outside. As always, make a comment or send an email to Until then, eat and be merry! Peace.

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Steve - August 29, 2008 8:59 AM

I always feel a bit embarrassed when I look at the types of ingredients in this, or perhaps Indian, cooking. North America just has such narrow focus on greasy fried stuff. One thing though, watch out for the "berbere" seasoning, it might be extremely hot. I think I will hit the library today and look for a book or two with these types of recipes.

Sandi - August 29, 2008 5:04 PM

I went here for lunch today after reading your post. The food was very good, although the portions were a little small. I got the Vegetarian combination. Tasty! One thing--I misinterpreted the Create Your Own Platter just like you did. They meant that if you order one of their meals, you can get a side from the ones listed for $2.50. All in all, I would recommend it; it's very ETL friendly.

Steve - August 30, 2008 9:51 AM

My library was a bit meager on this subject. I did find "Food and Cooking of Africa and the Middle East" though. I learned that "wot" meant stew, and the injera bread is used as a plate, spoon, and to mop up the last of the wot! Of course it covers meat as well as fish and veggie dishes, but it is full of colourful photos, many which double as cooking instructions. Certainly worth getting on loan from the library.

Sandi - September 7, 2008 12:17 PM

Well, I live in the Philly area and was on vacation, so I thought I'd give it a try. I am surprised it's a first though. (You inspire me on many levels, Gerry.)

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