A Taste of Africa: Demera Ethiopian Restaurant

My parents are visiting from Florida this weekend!!!  

I am so excited to see them, and of course have a lot of fun (& foodie!) things planned for their visit.  One of the first things on our agenda? Dinner at Demera Ethiopian Restaurant.

I ate at Demera a couple weeks ago along with Mike and our good friends Krin, Etan, and Jorge.  The food was so fantastic, I decided then and there to take my parents here to try their first Ethiopian food.

Mom, Dad, here’s a sneak preview of what you can look forward to:

Demera is located in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood, right across the street from the famous Green Mill Jazz Club, which opened in 1907 (maybe we’ll pop in after dinner!)

From the first moment I walked in, I knew the food would be incredible, simply from the smell of the restaurant, full of the warm scents of ginger, onion, garlic, and turmeric.

 

This is the perfect restaurant for anyone new to Ethiopian food, as the menu comes complete with a handy dandy glossary of terms (study up!):

We started out with some pretty unique drinks.  Mike was smitten with their Ethiopian Honey Wine, while I was mesmerized by my Oregano & Spice Tea.  It was so good, that I wonder why Oregano tea hasn’t become more mainstream – this is the first I’ve ever seen of it!

 

For an appetizer, we shared the Spinach Sambussas which were absolutely delicious.  What set them miles ahead of any other spinach pastries was the robust hot sauce they were paired with.  It had a serious kick, yet the flavors of the scrumptious sauce still shined through.

There were so many options on the Vegetarian Menu that we were having a difficult time deciding.  

Luckily, traditional Ethiopian dining is communal style, so it was nothing out of the ordinary for us to order every single item on a huge platter for sharing.

Check out our HUGE platter!  And this platter was intended for just 3 of us, since Mike and Jorge wanted to try the meat dishes and decided to order their own platter for 2.

Instead of silverware, our meal came with a basket full of fluffy crepe-like inerja bread, which to me tastes like spongy sourdough.  

To eat, you simply break off a piece of bread, and use it to pick up food from the platter.

Every dish was so delicious and flavorful, but my favorites were the Beets, which were sweet and gingery and reminded us all of Candied Thanksgiving Sweet Potatoes, and the perfectly dressed Salad.  The Potato and Cabbage dishes actually reminded me of Polish food (my heritage), and Krin couldn’t get enough of the Mixed Legumes.  My least favorite dish however, was the Dough of Ground Chickpeas in Berbere Sauce, which was too chewy for my taste.

The three of us didn’t even come close to finishing all the food we were given, as you can see from the aftermath pictured above.  But everything was so delicious, we all knew we had to somehow make room for dessert, and I am so glad we did – each one of our desserts was spectacular.

Krin and Etan shared a Vanilla Ice-cream Sundae with Chocolate & Mango Syrups.  

 

 Jorge ordered the Volcano of melt-in-your-mouth Hibist Bread with Lemon Sauce, Cardamom, Clove and Vanilla Ice-cream. 

And Mike and I shared the Hibist Bread and Fruit Medley drizzled with Honey.  I was expecting a basic fruit bowl, but what I got was so incredibly delicious.  I am still dreaming of this dessert.  The bowl was full of mangoes, raisins, and oranges, along with soft pieces of Ethiopian hibist bread which soaked up the caramel-like honey sauce.  I am definitely ordering it again this weekend!

The 5 of us had so much fun talking, drinking, eating, and drawing on the paper table cloths that we closed down the restaurant.

 

Thankfully, for me, the party continued the next day, since Krin & Etan let me keep all our leftovers.  I was nervous that it wouldn’t make good leftovers, since everything got smashed together, but lo and behold, it tasted even better the next day!  The flavors of all of the vegetables and stews melding together with the bread reminded me of the perfect Thanksgiving Stuffing.

 

 I’d love to hear from you!

Have you ever tried…

…Ethiopian Food?

…Communal Style Dining?

…Eating with your Fingers?