ashi (ashi) wrote,

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Ethiopian restaurants that closed

I was thinking of putting up a web page with a list of Ethiopian restaurants in the South Bay that closed while I've lived here.

Then I figured I'd at least do an LJ post. Can you think of any I missed?

Abyssinian Garden
Downtown San Jose
I think this may have had a different name originally, but I don't remember. It was on Santa Clara Street, near 2nd, close to a busy bus stop. Their tap water was among the worst I've ever tasted, but they offered free bottled water when we complained. I don't recall ever ordering water there again. The food was quite good. My boss at the San Jose State Foundation took me there when I was about to leave--I don't think she cared for the food. I took Suzanne there once in 1993 or so, and she didn't like it either, but everyone else I took there liked it. They used to have their large TV on loud. They split up their space and opened a convenience store but still couldn't keep the restaurant going. Last I checked they still had the convenience store. I miss them.

The Blue Nile
Near Santa Clara University
Now there was a place where you could go alone and get just enough food for one, reasonably priced. This would often be served on a bed of rice, which I've never seen at any other Ethiopian restaurant. The food was good. It was a few blocks from an Ethiopian market, which I think is still there.

The Red Sea
San Jose, North First Street
It was in an old house, with a nice atmosphere. The food was okay. One of my friends really liked it, but I was unimpressed with the food. And I really didn't like that they charged the same as other places but gave smaller portions. You really had to order one plate for each person, while at most you can order one plate for two people, three plates for five people, etc.

Star Mars
Downtown San Jose
It was on First Street, near San Fernando Street. The owner was unusual--she is not Ethiopian. She was nice. They offered other types of food, though I can't remember what. The Ethiopian food was good. The TV was a bit annoying sometimes, but not as bad as Abyssinian Garden. It opened long after Abyssinian Garden closed, so I was glad to have an option downtown again, but I don't think it lasted even a year. Sad.

Downtown Campbell, near the railroad tracks
North First Street, near Trimble
This was often my favorite Ethiopian restaurant. I used to go there so often, servers would often ask if I wanted "the usual." Parking was sometimes difficult, but it was worth it. This was also an issue at the North First Street location, where I used to go for lunch buffet when I worked at MMC/Maxtor. They often made a special bread I hadn't seen anywhere else, called kita. It was a thin wheat bread, a bit thicker than a flour tortilla. You can ask in advance at Ghion if you miss this bread, and they might make it for you, though it is a little different. Of all the restaurants on this list, I think I miss you the most, Shebele.

Queen of Sheba
The Alameda, off 880, next door to a motel
It used to be the San Jose Inn / Cafe. It is now a Mexican restaurant. For a while it served American diner food as well as Ethiopian food, with a separate room decorated in Ethiopian style while the rest looked like a diner. Then later it expanded the Ethiopian decor and got rid of the diner. The owner, Sahlu Okebato, was very friendly and usually chatted with diners to see how they were and how they liked the food. Twice I showed up after closing, not sure if they would be open, and he saw me and opened the door anyway. The baklava was tasty, though I don't always have room for dessert after Ethiopian food. This one closed quite recently.

Saratoga and Payne, where Zeni is now
This one only sort-of counts, as it soon re-opened in the same location under different management. I thought it was fine, though the owner liked to claim his food was better than at other restaurants. Most of my friends who tried it like Zeni better. I certainly love Zeni.

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