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March 7th, 2011 RUTH BROWN | Food Reviews & Stories
 

Cheap Eats 2011: Bete-Lukas

Ethiopian dining is rarely an elegant affair, and the white tablecloths, real napkins and minimalist decor of Bete-Lukas don’t exactly scream, “Pull up a pew and start scarfing lentils with your hands!” But this South Tabor eatery is all about bringing a rare touch of refinement and subtlety to Horn of Africa cuisine: the plainest-sounding dish, kategna—described simply as “warm injera with berbere and seasoned butter”—turns out to be a standout, with moist, fresh rolls of the spongy, slightly sour northeast African bread layered with a complex blend of spices. Instead of encouraging you to stuff yourself like there’s a famine on, servings are generous without being excessive. The menu offers a large range of lamb, beef, chicken and fish dishes, but its simpler, cheaper, heartier vegetarian fare is where Bete-Lukas really shines. From the fiery red-lentil misir wot to the tangy curried carrot and cabbage tikel gomen, each is distinctly delicious, and offers a taste of fine dining without the price tag or pretension. At $7 to $8 with injera and salad, every vegetable dish is an excellent value, but the $11 combo plate allows you to sample almost all of them.

 
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