My boyfriend and I rode by their "Grand Opening" sign on the bus last week and we both thought it looked like it was worth checking out. After the Mexican restaurant we wanted to go to last night closed early, we decided to hop on a bus and brave the Worst Public Transit System in the World for what we hoped would be some great Ethiopian food.
First Impressions: The restaurant was nicely decorated -- fairly low key with Ethiopian travel posters as well as artwork and a generally cozy, warm feeling. Lots of golds and reds in the decor. The music they were playing was great and we now intend to track down some Ethiopian music, since we don't know nearly enough about it. We were greeted promptly and told to sit anywhere we wanted (the restaurant is fairly small, but only one table was filled).
The Service: The service was excellent all night long. Our server appeared to also be either an owner or a manager and she was very friendly and took our order quickly. We were both new to Ethiopian cuisine and ask for her advice on choosing a beef dish and a vegetarian dish. She asked a few questions about our preferences, advised us on several dishes we might like, and then offered to bring out a "surprise". Which brings me to...
The Food: The "surprise" turned out to be an enormous platter of beef, surrounded by a selection of 5 or 6 vegetarian dishes. It was a perfect introduction to a new cuisine and everything was absolutely delicious. The beef was apparently a combination of 2 different beef dishes on the menu (she'd asked us if we preferred our food spicy or juicy and we told her "both"). Going around the plate clockwise, there was a lentil dish that was spicy and flavourful, chopped greens (spinach, I think) that perfectly complemented the beef, green beans and carrots (my boyfriend's favourite of the vegetarian dishes), cabbage and potatoes (my favourite) and lettuce and tomatoes tossed in a vinaigrette. The injera was perfect for soaking up all of the juices. We were starving when we got there and everything was so good we may have made pigs of ourselves -- the platter was huge and we ate almost all of it.
When we were done, our server offered us some tea on the house and even though we had to be somewhere, we took her up on it. The tea was as delicious as the food. Spicy, with a strong taste of cloves.
Final Thoughts: Like I said, this was our first experience with Ethiopian food, so I don't have anything to compare it to. That said, I loved everything I was served and will definitely be going back to Fasika. The food was great, the service was great, the pricing was reasonable, and the people who run the restaurant seem like really nice people. They've only been open three weeks and they seemed excited and proud of their restaurant. It was refreshing to see that kind of excitement. When I lived in New York, I saw it all the time, but so many people in Fresno seem beat down and tired. I would definitely recommend this restaurant.
Fasika Ethiopian Restaurant
4712 N Blackstone Ave, Fresno, CA 93726