Demera Ethiopian: Eat With Your Hands!

It’s been years since I’ve gone out for an Ethiopian meal.  I love getting tactile with my food but it’s difficult to find friends who are willing to eat with their hands rather than a knife and fork. Honestly, what is the big deal?  After all, it’s not no different from eating a sandwich or pizza. So, yesterday, I was thrilled when my friend, Anca, suggested we have lunch at Demera Ethiopian Restaurant in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood.


Dining room at Demera Ethiopian

Such a colorful dining room on the sunny corner of Lawrence and Broadway!


Demera is located

1 block west of the Lawrence ‘L’ stop along the CTA Red Line, on the corner of Lawrence and Broadway.


Demera Ethiopian Restaurant


The menu here is broken out into vegetarian, meat (beef, lamb chicken) and seafood options, so there is something for most everyone.  You can order individual menu options or partake in the traditional communal dining experience called messob.  The latter is a really great option, if you are dining with several people who are willing to fully immerse themselves in this traditional Ethiopian dining culture.  Messob is when all the diners at the table eat directly from the same platter of food.  It is a truly engaging and intimate way to enjoy a meal and connect with friends and family.  No different than sharing some nachos!

The menu items you choose arrive on a platter of injera which is a traditional Ethiopian flatbread made from sourdough.  It has a slightly spongy texture.  More baskets of injera are served on the side.  Each person tears off pieces of injera to use as the vehicle for scooping up the food.  


Injera bread at Demera Ethiopian Restaurant

Traditional injera bread has a spongy texture.


Since it was lunchtime, Anca and I decided to order individual lunch combo specials.  Here’s how our lunch went down:

First, we started off with a sambussa appetizer to share.  Sambussas are the Ethiopian version of dumplings.  Every culture has their own but the shape and flavor profile of sambussas are most akin to Indian samosas.  Both cultures cook with a lot of earthy, smoky spices like cumin, garlic, turmeric, onion and ginger.  We ordered these super flavorful red lentil sabussas which were accompanied by a delicious and very spicy sauce.  If you like heat, then you will love these!  I could have made a meal out of two or more of them 🙂


Vegetarian sambussas from Demera


Sambussas at Demera Ethiopian Restaurant

Spicy red lentil sambussas. I should have ordered more!


Next came our individual lunch combo platters.  Each came with four menu items of our choice. Anca ordered an entirely vegetarian platter while I added a meat option.  Mine is the first platter.  Appearing on the injera bread starting from the bottom right and going clockwise is ye-misir (red lentils stewed in berbere sauce, onion, garlic and ginger), potato and carrots, gomen (collard greens with onion, garlic, ginger and jalapenos) and yet-sigo wot ( spicy beef stew).


Lunch combo at Demera Ethiopian Restaurant

Individual lunch combo from Demera


Here is Anca’s platter which included the same red lentils as my platter, along with some split yellow peas, collards greens and a mixture of cabbage and carrots.


Vegetarian options at Demera Ethiopian Restaurant

I love all the colorful menu items!


Demera has a full bar which includes some local craft beer options.  They also roast their own coffee which I will order the next time I visit.  After all, Ethiopia gave birth to coffee and I need to see how Demera’s measures up 🙂  Anca says it’s delicious but super caffeinated, so I will need to make sure I order it a bit earlier in the day.


Dining room at Demera


Demera Ethiopian Restaurant is located at 4801 N. Broadway.  They are a Michelin Recommended restaurant.  Click here for more information.

Looking for other great food spots in Chicago’s Uptown?  Check out Ba Le for Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches and Baker & Nosh for delicious baked goods and more.

In keeping with the spirit of Feeding Off The Rails, I encourage you to leave your car at home and take the CTA Red Line to Demera.  Save on gas.  Avoid traffic, parking and road rage. Reduce pollution.  Don’t drink and drive!