Ben Abeba – Hill of Flowers
A Lalibela restaurant delivers authentic cuisine and nouveau design.
Like most tourists, my dad and I visited Lalibela, Ethiopia, with the intent of marveling at its roughly 900-year-old churches chiseled from stone. Just before arriving in the small town, though, I added another agenda item to our list: to eat at Ben Abeba, a hybrid restaurant popular for its remarkable design and food.
When visiting other countries, my family makes a point to eat locally. So after reading about Ben Abeba in a guide book, I knew it would be the perfect place to experience Ethiopia’s cuisine: its traditional wat, a spicy stew with many different varieties; and injera, the flatbread made from a grain called teff.
Walking on Lalibela’s small, rocky roads on our way to the restaurant, we felt a world away from the bustling and active capital of Addis Ababa. In the dry heat, we jaunted past some of the town’s vibrant 17,000-plus residents, as well as narrow, dusty side roads, hotels, and brightly painted souvenir shops and shoe repair stops, among other things.
After traipsing for a good while, we caught a glimpse of a cone-like structure piercing the sky. Even in the distance, Ben Abeba’s modernity stands out from any other structure in the town. Shaped like a wizard’s hat, a spaceship or an Alice-in-Wonderland-esque building (take your pick of description), Ben Abeba perches on the edge of a picturesque valley.
The restaurant is the brainchild of local Lalibelian Habtamu Baye and Scottish-born Susan Aitchison.
Read more at: Selamta Magazine