Until recently, I’d never eaten Ethiopian food. Wanting to correct this deficiency, a friend suggested we meet at Tana Ethiopian in Anaheim, his favorite of the two—count ‘em—Ethiopian restaurants in Orange County.
I can tell you that my first time will not be my last—I loved it. There were multiple vegetable stews, each with distinct spicing. We had lamb and chicken dishes as well (both very good), but my mind was happily humming with the same thought I always have at good Indian restaurants: Who needs meat? Tangy, soft, sourdough injera flatbread, torn and used as eating utensil, is a bonus.
But then: Ethiopian coffee service ($12 for three people). Green coffee beans are roasted to order in a cast-iron pan before being ground and brewed. The server brings the just-roasted beans, shiny and hot, for you to see—take a deep whiff. She returns with a tray holding cups and a tall, traditional, round-bottomed pot that nestles in a padded base to stand upright. Poured from a little height, the coffee is thick and black, adamantly strong, pleasantly bitter. It’s delicious, and transporting. An unexpected moment of living history, an ancient progenitor of today’s Third Wave coffee culture, in an unassuming Anaheim strip mall.