For years now, I've been told I should go to Enat, an inconspicuous carpeted elbow of a restaurant in a North Killingsworth neighborhood I've already come to love for its bars and markets.
The flavors are brighter and fresher than at any of the many other excellent Ethiopian restaurants in Portland, they told me. The spongy injera bread tastes deeply of grain, with a brightly crisp edge of fermented tang. They said the mood in the room, even, takes on a soft tinge of warmth against the comforting red and tan of the walls—decorated the way a mother might decorate a living room, with portraits and pictures from home—while young Ethiopians the next booth over party down in a group of eight, downing slightly oxidized St. George or Meta beers shipped from far away while wrapping that splendid injera around beautifully tender lamb tibs, chicken doro wat rumbling with flavors from the earth, chickpeas laced with lancing chili heat, and dense, savory lentil stews singing with fresh spice. I was told that nothing at Enat costs enough compared to how good it tastes. But for years, I didn't go, and now I feel like a fool. Because all of those things were true.
300 N Killingsworth St., 503-285-4867. 11:30 am-9:30 pm Monday-Saturday. $.
Eat: Get the veggie or meat sampler or both, each with five dabs of amorphous stews that all taste different and all taste wonderful.
Drink: Ethiopian beers are in plentiful stock. Among them, we liked the Meta export lager.
Most popular dish: Lamb tibs.
Noise level: 40/100.
Expected wait: None.
Who you'll eat with: Young Ethiopians in large groups, PCC students, and families with kids running loose.
Year opened: 2010