Somehow I never managed to make it over to Fasika in Somerville until last night. I should have gone long ago. This place is just incredible -- extremely authentic, very well-prepared Ethiopian food that is not to be missed. To be sure, the decor is nothing to write home about, but it makes you feel that the place is really catering to the local Habesha ex-pat population, not to Americans. The staff are extremely friendly and you really do feel as though someone's Ethiopian grandmother is cooking for you back in the kitchen (which is the case for all I know).
Anyway, having been to Ethiopia I have not been blown away by the food at Addis Red Sea (either location) or Asmara (which is technically Eritrean). Those places are not bad at all, but Fasika is a real gem. The food there is about as authentic as I can imagine it being outside of Ethiopia. They use real teff flour for the injera which imparts a sourdough quality you don't get with the wheat flour variety served at other places. The kitfo is served raw (if you ask for it, which we did). They serve the tej (honey wine) in glass flasks the way you'd find in a tej bet in Lalibela. They had a few Ethiopian beers in bottles, including Hakim 'stout', which is more like a malty brown ale - really good.
The Fasiki Combo ("for two") lets you pick three meat dishes and four veg dishes for around $20 - definitely the way to go if you want to sample a lot of things. Everything was just fantastic - kitfo, lamb tibs (nicely caramelized), doro wat (quite spicy), three different lentil/split pea dishes and cabbage, potatoes, and carrots.
On a Friday night we were the only diners apart from an Ethiopian family that seemed to know or be related to the owners. (Imagine three kids, just eight years old, piling into a big platter of raw beef kitfo together!)
The decor and ambiance are pretty strange. I wouldn't go on a (first) date here. It would be a ballsy choice for a second or third date though. The restaurant is attached to a bar which mostly caters to townies and they've put some strange plexiglass partition up between the two. Definitely a hole in the wall. But never mind the decor -- go for the food.
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