Spice City Toronto: Ethiopian Food in Moss Park

Vegeterain PlatterIn one of downtown’s last ungentrified neighbourhoods, an exceptional Ethiopian restaurant.

Toronto has dozens of Ethiopian restaurants, but Queen Street East’s Keeffaa Coffee is truly unique. Located in Moss Park—one of the only parts of downtown yet to gentrify—Keeffaa is a cross between an independent coffee shop, a hippie organic cafe and a traditional Ethiopian restaurant. It’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 cafe’s walls. “I cook just like I paint,” she says. “I don’t use recipes. It just comes to me.”

The quaint back patio is a meeting place for new-age types—don’t be surprised if you find yourself invited into a conversation on healing techniques or the materialism of Western society. If that doesn’t turn your crank, the food certainly will.

The menu is subject to Elsabet’s mood, so just ask what’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 Elsabet’s blend of Ethiopian beans, boiled the same way it was made on her grandfather’s coffee plantation in Ethiopia.

Read the rest at Spice City Toronto.