Doubling down on mitmita and berbere at Eatopia Ethiopian Cafe

Categories: ethniche

eatopia08.jpg
Mark Antonation
For more than a year, Mark Antonation ate his way up Federal Boulevard. With that journey done, he'll now explore different cuisines from around the globe right here in metro Denver, one month at a time, in Ethniche.

Driving to Aurora to eat Ethiopian cuisine seemed a little counterintuitive, at least when my planned route -- straight east on Colfax Avenue before heading south on Havana -- took me past the majority of Denver's favorites along Colfax. But after visiting Queen of Sheba -- one of the city's oldest and most popular Ethiopian restaurants -- last week, I wanted to give a new place a shot. Eatopia, which opened less than a year ago, maintains a website and online menu with specialties and descriptions that read as unique and tantalizing enough to justify the extra miles on the odometer. So I picked up my friend Greg, and some thirty minutes later we pulled into an empty parking lot in an empty strip mall on a quiet street just off the otherwise bustling intersection of Havana and Mississippi.

See also: Wott's happening at the Queen of Sheba on Colfax

Mark Antonation
I hoped that the Sprouts Market across the street was a good sign for the neighborhood, which must have passed some sort of demographic study to land a branch of the health-centric grocery chain. But despite clear signs of commerce all around, this shoppette on the north side of Alameda hadn't quite caught on with either tenants or customers.

Eatopia's neighbors included a barber shop and a post office and little else, although it was hard to tell which businesses were open, because most of the signs had yet to be added to the new stucco facade. The interior didn't hold much more promise; we were the lone customers in a sparsely decorated dining room, with not an employee to be seen.

Someone in the kitchen saw us, though, and came out with menus and a smile. She seemed surprised that anyone was actually coming in for dinner, but motioned us to a table and soon brought us waters (complete with bendy straws). The menu item that beckoned me from across town was the "special" kitfo -- special because the finely minced beef came with ayeb cheese and the stewed collard green dish called gomen. We ordered it raw, as recommended on the menu (found under "enchanting meat edibles"), which brought another smile to the server's face. She told us, maybe to soothe any trepidation, that the steak was of the highest quality and very fresh.

eatopia03.jpg
Mark Antonation
First, though, we started with a lamb soup called begue kikil, which the sole cook in the kitchen was kind enough to split into three bowls for us. The yellow-green soup was thin but powerfully spiced, its turmeric and garlic top notes giving way to a deep meatiness from the lamb bones and a curry-like undercurrent of additional spices. Although the dining room was a little warm, we polished off every drop of the soup and mopped the bowls with rolls of tangy injera bread, which was firm and springy and dusty-rose colored from the teff flour.

eatopia04.jpg
Mark Antonation
Greg's order of zilzil tibs -- tibs indicating grilled or sauteed meat -- came shortly after, along with another mound of injera. Although the beef in the zilzil was chewy by Western standards, it was packed with flavor from the bubbling awaze sauce, a deep blackish concoction packed with miso-like umami and low-voltage berbere spice.

Keep reading for more on Eatopia.


Location Info

Eatopia

1074 South Ironton Street, Unit I, Aurora, CO

Category: Restaurant


Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
28 comments
TheFabulousMarkT
TheFabulousMarkT topcommenter

I have a feeling most folks stopped reading this comments section long ago :) but I wanted to mention that the Eatopia space is now an Eritrean eatery called Fidel East African Restaurant.

And very good it is, too. Also, it looks really classy inside (I mean, Eatopia looked nice too, but... well, stop by and you'll see what I mean).

Steven M Palmer
Steven M Palmer

Not our fault that they are so busy breeding and killing each other that they haven't developed simple social skills like agriculture.

Steven M Palmer
Steven M Palmer

I'm surprised you don't get fed a bowl of gruel out of the back of a UN food truck...

Tony Tornovish
Tony Tornovish

I'm surprised Mark Antination hasn't called you a racist yet. Maybe he's too busy eating a plate of yummy Ethiopian food or a cock.

Tony Tornovish
Tony Tornovish

Hey Mark Antonation, what's racist about the fact them at good looks wholly unappealing?! You're an idiot!

Tony Tornovish
Tony Tornovish

Mark Antonation, suck it fuckhead! It was about the fact they're all skinny as hell. Racists usually see racism everywhere they look, way to expose yourself loser.

Rob Heath
Rob Heath

Yeah josh your Sooo racists bro. Jeez.

Joshua David
Joshua David

...also not entirely certain you know the difference between race and nationality. It would certainly seem you do not.

Joshua David
Joshua David

Look out, ark is a sergeant in the facebook post police brigade! ...fucking douchebag.

Mark Antonation
Mark Antonation

Joshua, thank you for displaying your ignorance and racism for the entire world. Now we know. There's a saying that goes something like "if you keep your mouth shut, nobody will know how stupid you are." Try it.

Mark Antonation
Mark Antonation

Rob, you may think this is funny, but famine really isn't funny. Please educate yourself to the rich history and traditions of a country and its people before you make ignorant comment. Or just stop and think for a few minutes.

Mark Antonation
Mark Antonation

Tony, please keep your ignorant, racist comments to yourself.

Sarah Peasley
Sarah Peasley

I ate at Ethiopian restaurants a lot when I lived in D.C. in the '90s, and have been wanting to try some Denver restaurants, so thanks for this inspiring review.

Dave Caldwell
Dave Caldwell

This review has made me hungry and reminded me I'm way overdue for some Ethiopian food. I might have to take a drive and go try this place. For those who've never had Ethiopian food, you need to get over your fears and give it a try.

Joshua David
Joshua David

Well that explains why they don't eat much

Tony Tornovish
Tony Tornovish

I've seen what the average Ethiopian looks like, I'll pass.

Sean Hamilton
Sean Hamilton

It looks like like it's been through somebody already!!!

TheFabulousMarkT
TheFabulousMarkT topcommenter

I like the Doro Wot there too. She actually used to cook at the little cafe inside Qera Market (10th/Havana) but everyone kept pestering her to open her own place, so she did :)

Mark - if you don't want to travel quite so far east for chechebsa, Africana Cafe a bit west of Colfax/Krameria does a very good version. Some of our Ethiopian coffeeshops in town offer it too - Etete Coffee a bit west of Colfax/Quebec comes to mind right away.

TheFabulousMarkT
TheFabulousMarkT topcommenter

Oh, that reminds me - the stripmall with Eatopia will soon be home to a couple more Ethiopian-owned businesses, including a beauty parlor and hookah bar!

For you homebrewers out there, the market a couple doors down (Royal Grocery) has the specific type of hops [Gesho] used to make Ethiopian honey wine.

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...