Ethiopian flavors spice up Shabelle Grocery and Restaurant in Minneapolis

Shabelle Grocery (
Shabelle Grocery (


February 11, 2013

Abdur Omer, co-owner of Shabelle, the little Ethiopian grocery store and restaurant on Franklin Avenue, opened his store 13 years ago after moving to Minnesota to be near friends. He first moved to Washington, D.C. from Ethiopia in the 1980s and it was there, just a couple of years before he arrived, where I first became aware of Ethiopian cuisine. The city’s many Ethiopian restaurants were popular with the many Ethiopian cab drivers, and although I was only an Iowan cabdriver, I’d grab the same take-out as my fellow cabbies, nibbling on dinner as I trolled for fares. I loved the fragrant stews and the bread it was served on. They were unlike any cuisine I’d tried.

Omer is still passionate about the food of his home country. Since the store opened, he’s been helping customers find what they need, especially those who don’t know their kitfo from their gomen or their teff from their millet. Confused by dozens of spices lined up on the far wall, the foods with with unusual names, the brightly colored powders packaged in plain plastic wrappers with no explanation or directions? Just ask Omer. He’s here to help.

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