Most diners who visit traditional Ethiopian restaurants are used to this experience. Longer waiting times and a dark, intimate atmosphere are to be expected in most Ethiopian restaurants – but sometimes these aspects keep people from going there. That’s why Fetien Gebre-Michael and Yoseph Assefa Konjo Ethiopian opened on the Edgewater Public Market.
“We want to make Ethiopian food more accessible,” said Assefa. The two friends started with a food truck a few years ago and were able to build a niche for themselves in the Ethiopian food community. “We could bring out Ethiopian food in 15 minutes – which was previously unknown [with traditional Ethiopian food], ” said Gebre-Michael. They still operate the food truck next to the restaurant and drive to breweries, events, and HOAs – which has helped the restaurant survive during the current pandemic. “We worked too hard to get to this point. We cannot fail now. Failure is not an option, ”said Gebre-Michael of her stance on the current state of the business.
Gebre-Michael grew up in Northern Ethiopia with 11 brothers and sisters – yes, 11. “I was the oldest girl, which meant I was basically the second mother,” she explained. “My mother told me to make food for the children so I could find out. It wasn’t just an annoying task anymore, it was something I really liked and tasted good. “
Ethiopia has a tradition of eating together with large groups of family members and friends who sit down to enjoy a meal together. The ingredients and recipes vary depending on the region, but they all have one thing in common: flatbread that is shared by everyone at the table is torn and dipped into the tasty dishes that go with it. As Gebre-Michael comes from Northern Ethiopia and Assefa from Southern Ethiopia, Konjo offers a variety of dishes from both regions. All Spejo dishes are made from scratch every day to provide guests with the freshest and most authentic food possible. “We pride ourselves on the authenticity of the food,” said Gebre-Michael. Over the years, she and Assefa have combined family recipes with local ingredients to create the accessible menu Konjo has today.
Konjo dishes include vegetarian options like kik, miser, gomen with dinich and tikel gomen, which are translated yellow peas, red lentils, spiced spinach with potatoes and curry cabbage with carrots and potatoes. The meat options include Chicken tibs, beef tibs, and lamb tibs These consist of the protein cooked with onions, garlic, tomatoes, paprika, seasoned butter and berber – an Ethiopian spice mixture. All dishes are served with the traditional flatbread, which has a sourdough flavor and helps to balance out the bold flavors of the main dishes.
If you’ve never tried Ethiopian food, Konjo is a great place to enjoy your first Ethiopian dish. The fresh ingredients, authentic recipes and the heart with which each dish is prepared will satisfy your longing for a warm, home-made meal.
Konjo Ethiopian is located at 5505 W 20th Ave Suite # 106 in Edgewater. Open Wednesday to Friday from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday from 11 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 11 p.m. to 7 p.m.