Wott's happening at the Queen of Sheba on Colfax

Categories: ethniche

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Mark Antonation
Lean kitfo snuggled in with vegetable sides.
Queen of Sheba's kitfo -- lean beef minced to almost a paste and mixed with clarified butter and spices -- has a back-of-the-throat heat and luscious texture that highlights the subtle beef flavor without ever approaching bloodiness. Although the kitchen also offers the dish medium-rare, the raw version seems perfect for scooping with pieces of tangy injera (spelled enjera on the menu here) -- the spongy, sourdough pancake-style bread that serves as an edible spoon in an otherwise cutlery-free restaurant.

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Mark Antonation
Lentils, split-pea stews and lots of injera.
The vegetable platter came with two lentil preparations and two kinds of stewed split peas. My favorite was the brick-hued miser wott (red lentils) with a touch of cinnamon and a punch of heat, but the atar wott -- garlicky yellow split peas -- also stood out. Slow-cooked collards and yatakelt wott (potatoes, carrots and cabbage) rounded out the platter.

It was a leisurely dinner, paced by the choreography of one woman doing the work of an entire brigade. There was one other cook in the kitchen, but otherwise the atmosphere took on the personality of its proprietor: a little harried but never rushed, spread a little thin but not to the point of frustration, a smile and a gleam in the eye even as she dealt with the confusion of a group of first-time diners. (A hint: Speak up if you want your meats and veggies on separate platters or if you're averse to diving into the same food as your companions.)

Ethiopian food seems built for a contemplative and relaxed experience. Variations on sauces that whisper with cardamom, cloves, garlic and other unfamiliar but evocative flavors sit alongside searingly hot bites to be tempered with cold lentils or a salad of tomatoes and shreds of injera. A shared platter reveals its personality in the course of an evening. The elements line up to be discovered and appreciated little by little, just like a new friend, just like Colfax itself.

For more from our tour of Denver's cultural, regional and international restaurant scene, check out our entire Ethniche archive.



Location Info

Queen of Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant

7225 E. Colfax Ave., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant


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7 comments
Vanessa KC
Vanessa KC

They don't open on time. I sat outside for 15 mins waiting.

Ash Taylor
Ash Taylor

I really enjoyed my dining experience at Queen of Sheba. I will be going back

TheFabulousMarkT
TheFabulousMarkT topcommenter

Yes indeed. I have a feeling that she was joined in the kitchen that night by her niece who helps her out quite a bit.

Some Ethiopian markets (like Merkato right next door to QoS) have good snacks too - once I went on a "mini sambusa crawl" on Colfax between Holly and Quebec which was fun.

Another snack to look out for is dabo kolo which are little baked or fried nuggets of lightly sweetened/spiced dough. Mmmmmmmm

TheFabulousMarkT
TheFabulousMarkT topcommenter

Me again :D I'm not sure if your tour will also feature Eritrean dishes but if so don't forget Meskerem here in Aurora (Peoria/Mississippi).

TheFabulousMarkT
TheFabulousMarkT topcommenter

If you'd like to try regional Ethiopian specialties you might enjoy the Gurage offerings at Megenagna (as mentioned in a previous article), or visit Elsa's (Parker/Mississippi) where you can sample the the Tigrayan ceremonial dish Tihlo (barley dumplings served with a spicy sauce).

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