As someone who lived a decade in Berkeley-Oakland before moving to Bernal, there are some cuisines I still cross the bay for, knowing I can find absolute satisfaction there. Ethiopian and Eritrean food have been in this category, so I was excited to hear good things about Sawa 2 on Divisadero near Sutter.
I finally had a chance to try it on Friday night, with five people in our party so we could try lots of dishes. We opted for the family platter, which came with the spinach entree as a generous side interspersed across the platter, and a beautiful green salad arrangement decorating the edges.
I am not expert at these cuisines, but noted that familiar dishes like Doro Wat and Kitfo are not on the menu. We thoroughly enjoyed the two lamb dishes (one from the stew menu, one from the saute menu), okra, lentils (there's just one choice) and the boneless chicken dish. We were all impressed that although most dishes start with tomatoes and onions as the base, each dish stood on its own. I might not always be able to return with such a large group, in which case I will trim my order down to the spinach, lentils and chicken -- the meat was tender although it was from the breast, and the peppery sauce was absolutely addictive. I also really enjoyed the okra.
Most of the party enjoyed Windhoek lager and Hakim Stout with their dinner. Sawa also offers a generous assortment of Kern's tropical juices. I didn't notice if they offer the honey wine found on some menus.
My two complaints: Sawa uses a generic bottled Italian dressing on the salad, which I can't stand and which I thought interfered with the other flavors when added to a bite of injera and stew; and the open kitchen means that you leave smelling of the food, so don't wear anything you care to wear again.
Note that Sawa does serve a fermented injera, which I like. It's a little thin for my taste, but all in all I'm happy to have a dependable option for good Ethiopian and Eritrean food in San Francisco.
Sawá Restaurant #2
1625 Divisadero St. (between Sutter & Post)
Tues-Sun 10am-10:3pm, Mon 10am-5:30pm
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