Unlike some of the “hole-in-the-wall” places I’ve recommended on this tour, Demera is an elegant full-sized restaurant with a very visible location at the corner of N. Broadway and W. Lawrence Ave. But it is still a mystery to the many Chicagoans who have never tried Ethiopian food. If you’re one of them, you are missing out on some amazing flavors. Though it has a lot in common with South Asian cuisines, Ethiopian food is a unique experience, and Demera is a great place to try it. They offer a good selection of foreign and domestic wine and beer, including African beers.
If you’re not sure what to order, Demera offers messobs (combination platters) that will allow you to try several dishes. They'll be served on an injera, a giant spongey flatbread meant to be shared by your entire table. Just tear off a piece and use it scoop up the dish of your choice, no forks required.
This communal approach to eating is a special quality of Ethiopian cuisine that is helping it to gain popularity in the US. If there are vegetarians in your group, they won’t be left out— the menu includes a great selection of dishes featuring legumes and fresh veggies. Even your gluten-free friends won’t be left out, because injera is made from teff, a high-protein grain indigenous to Ethiopia. While some restaurants make injera from a mixture of wheat and teff, here you can ask for tiff-only injera for a naturally gluten-free meal.
Cover photo: ovarga2 via Instagram.