Our work-lunch crew was looking for something different, something that would appeal to vegetarian and carnivores, something spicy. Lucky for us we have an Ethiopian native in our group and he suggested we try the newest entry into Houston’s Ethiopian venues, Sheger. Counting Sheger, I think this brings the total up to a staggering 3 choices for Ethiopian dining in the Houston MSA!
Located in a neglected strip mall slightly outside the loop on Bellaire Blvd, it has a simple in-house atmosphere. Its clean, efficient and a few eastern African faux-artifacts adorn. You are not here for decor or atmosphere, you are here for food.
Ethiopian fare is typically very spicy stews served atop the native ‘bread’, injera. Injera is a fermented teff flour based bread; its soft, thick, pliable and slightly sour. Since you will not receive any utensils, you should already be aware of the eating method: Break off some injera and use it to pick up some stew. I ordered the Awaze Lamb. Awaze is a marinade made from bebere, which is a delicious spice blend, heavy on the hot pepper. The flavors were excellent: hot pepper, cumin, ginger, garlic, fenugreek. There was waaay too much for one person to eat, so you’re better off ordering one app and one dish to share with a plus one.
Sheger is obviously family-owned; there is one server and one cook. Orders were up in 15 minutes. While English was occasionally a stumbling block, the server helping us was patient and happy to explain the ingredients we did not know. The owner or someone related to the owner was having lunch at the adjoining table and he was quite happy to see our motley crew; making sure we were enjoying our lunches and occasionally popping back to the kitchen, possibly to make sure everything was running smoothly – I don’t speak Amharic, so he could have been just shooting the shit.
Sheger is reasonable if you consider each dish, priced from $12-20, is really enough for two. All of us brought home half of our lunch for dinner.
The most-referenced Ethiopian restaurant in Houston is still Blue Nile, which is good, but I like Sheger for its comparable quality and a more in-house, casual atmosphere.
Lunch: 23 December 2013
Sheger Ethiopian | 5506-C Bellaire Blvd | HTX 77081