If you're looking for Ethiopian food in Oklahoma City, there's no better place to look than Queen of Sheba.
Actually, there's no other place to find the cuisine — period — but the lack of competition doesn't mean Queen of Sheba is resting on its laurels.
Instead, this eclectic eatery is building on past success with live jazz and reggae shows and a poetry slam to keep diners just as entertained as they are well-fed.
"We've been here for 10 years," said co-owner Mimi Younis. "We just wanted to give something back for our customers who have been so faithful to us."
That faithfulness may have something to do with Younis and her staff, who are always genial and attentive. Or it may be due to the gorgeous interior of the restaurant.
While the shopping center outside could use some work, Queen of Sheba is inviting and comfortable on the inside.
But the main draw, of course, is the food — which is unlike any cuisine out there. While forks and knives can be provided upon request, most people like to eat their food the traditional way: with their hands.
Almost every dish at Queen of Sheba is served with injera bread, which diners tear off and use to pinch up bites of food.
Best of all, the food is very healthy and there are many vegetarian choices, which is good news for those on restrictive diets.
But if you're having trouble choosing just one dish to try, there's the Queen of Sheba platter ($13). It's got a little bit of a lot to choose from and it's all flavorful.
It doesn't include every kind of dish, but the platter does let customers taste a variety of spicy stews, like Yebeg Alitcha (lamb), Yedir Watt (chicken), Kay Watt (beef) and Yemisir Watt (spicy, stewed lentils). It even comes with a side of roasted green beans and a small, fresh salad.
From fish and chicken and beef and lamb to spicy appetizers (like the $3.99 Sambussa — stuffed pastry shells filled with beef or chicken with chili and herbs) and tasty salads, there's a little something for everybody at Queen of Sheba.
And those looking for something really special should try the Coffee Ceremony, Younis said.
Though it requires at least 24 hours advance notice, the ceremony is well worth the time and effort. Coffee beans are roasted and ground just for that party and served up community style.
It's unlike anything else you'll find in Oklahoma — which describes almost everything at Queen of Sheba.
noon to 11 p.m. Monday to Sunday