In one of downtown’s last ungentrified neighbourhoods, an exceptional Ethiopian restaurant.
Toronto has dozens of Ethiopian restaurants, but Queen Street EastÃ¢â‚¬â„¢sÃ‚Â Keeffaa CoffeeÃ‚Â is truly unique. Located in Moss ParkÃ¢â‚¬â€one of the only parts of downtown yet to gentrifyÃ¢â‚¬â€Keeffaa is a cross between an independent coffee shop, a hippie organic cafe and a traditional Ethiopian restaurant. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a strange mix, but somehow the elements combine to make a friendly place with some truly innovative dishes.
Like many good cafes and bars, Keeffaa is an extension of the personality of its owner, Elsabet Wubie. A bubbly, free thinking artist, Elsabet has her paintings displayed on the cafeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s walls. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I cook just like I paint,Ã¢â‚¬Â she says. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t use recipes. It just comes to me.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The quaint back patio is a meeting place for new-age typesÃ¢â‚¬â€donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be surprised if you find yourself invited into a conversation on healing techniques or the materialism of Western society. If that doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t turn your crank, the food certainly will.
The menu is subject to ElsabetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mood, so just ask whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s on offer. On one visit I had a cold ginger/mango/lime drink punched up with cayenne, which was surprisingly refreshing. On another visit I had the popular Mexican hot chocolate. For $5, This frothy, rich, bittersweet drink has a complex flavour that beats the hell out of anything you can buy at Starbucks. It contains a shot of espresso made from ElsabetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s blend of Ethiopian beans, boiled the same way it was made on her grandfatherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s coffee plantation in Ethiopia.