NewHavenEats: Lalibela — Please eat with your hands

Afficionados of Ethiopian cuisine have favorably compared Lalibela to the best such restaurants this side of the Atlantic. Washington D.C., home to world-class Ethiopian food, doesn’t hold a candle, they say. Started by Yonas Asfaw in 1998, it is now guided by the sure hand of Asfaw’s sister-in-law, chef/owner Shilmat Tessema. These days, the restaurant’s food is even more authentic, spicier, and still great fun – you eat with your fingers.

Tessema, who came to Bridgeport from Ethiopia in 1997, grew up in a big family and her mother loved to cook. “Cooking is a gathering of family, talking about foods, the flavor, the spices,” Tessema says. “I love cooking.” Although she dreamed of owning a restaurant, she didn’t cook professionally until she bought Lalibela five years ago. While she attended accounting school in Bridgeport she helped out at Lalibela by cooking, waitressing, whatever was needed. As owner she updated the decor and expanded the menu, adding Ethiopian drinks such as beer and honey wine. Saturday-night diners clink glasses to Ethiopian music played by Charlie Sutton. Read full blog post at NewHavenEats.