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If I learned one thing from Tour de Cheesesteak, it’s that people demand a reckoning. It’s a tough thing to give out. Every restaurant has its strengths and weaknesses, and deciding which of those makes one place “better” than another is a dubious prospect since no single restaurant can be the right spot for every diner on every night. Still, I’m not above putting together a list. For your enjoyment, a ranking of San Diego’s Ethiopian restaurants, in reverse order.

6. Red Sea
Being at the bottom of the list doesn’t mean it sucked, but the food was the worst of the bunch, the surroundings were only average, and the locale left much to be desired. Unfortunately, “not being disgusted” is not much of a glowing review. Red Sea is mediocre, at best, and that just doesn’t cut it.

5. Awash Market
Awash may have good food--especially so for vegetarians--but it’s not much of a restaurant. If this was a take-out competition, Awash Market would fare much better. But hospitality matters and having to jump through hoops to pay for food and leave tips, not to mention shooing fruit flies, is damaging to the final score.

4. Asmara
Friendly service and a generous hand on the niter kibbeh spoon puts Asmara on the high side of average. Nobody eating there will be disappointed. The food isn’t mind-boggling, but it’s good enough to leave happy smiles on the faces of injera-stuffed diners. Having a parking lot in an otherwise treacherous stretch of City Heights only helps the cause.

3. Muzita
This is tough to rank. The service and ambiance are top notch, but the food is only equal, if not inferior to, the other spots in the top three. Make no mistake: Muzita’s food is very good and worth experiencing. It’s also the only place with a wine list, albeit a modest one, of any substance. Weighing the value of the premium Muzita charges over the other restaurants in the survey is difficult, but the final verdict has to be that it’s not sufficiently superior to the top two contenders to demand a higher price.

2. Harar
The food here was as good or better than any other. The kitfo was generous, wonderfully raw, and of excellent quality. The atmosphere inside the restaurant could have been more well kept, but the spacious, sheltered patio was a great escape from the trials of the Boulevard. With food equal to Muzita and 40% lower prices, Harar is a sure bet for anyone in search of stewed foods and all the injera in the world to sop them up

1. Awash Restaurant
Awash’s only failing is a location too far out ECB for most of us lazy North Park hipsters to push, pedal, or perambulate ourselves. The food was equal to Harar in terms of affordability and the portions were the most generous of all. Really, what made Awash stand out was the ridiculous cordiality of the staff and the few other customers. Being treated like an old friend at a humble little restau is an experience like none other, and in that respect Awash earned top honors.


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