Following the success of their first outlet in Haya Hulet, the owners of Tsige recently opened Tsige #2 in Bole-Medhanialem. A few days after the restaurant served its first customers, lines were forming outside the gate and diners made new friends as parties were combined to ensure a table for everyone. My local butcher confirmed for me that a meal at Tsige was worthwhile and recommended the shiro (chickpea stew) and the bayaynetu (vegetarian sampler).
Tsige bears the hallmarks of a restaurant serving traditional Ethiopian food: freshly cut grass on the floor, low tables and chairs and coffee brewing over a charcoal fire. Don’t bother asking for a menu, as there isn’t one. Thankfully, the wait staff is very friendly and will patiently explain each dish verbally or by pointing to a neighbor’s table. As I visited during the fasting period, I was prepared for vegan specialties and a lot of injera.
The first dish I tried at Tsige was shiro tegabino, a thick spread made from chickpea flour and onions, spiced with ample berbere. The server spoons the shiro onto injera from a clay pot at your table just as it finishes cooking. In addition to the injera, a hot green pepper is provided on the side to dip in the shiro at your own pace.
The highlight of eating at Tsige, however, is the bayaynetu. This colorful dish consists of several portions of vegetables, including shiro, lentils, chopped tomatoes, potatoes and cabbage. Each helping was well prepared and the spices complemented the vegetables without overpowering their freshness. Halfway through lunch, I ordered more injera to grab up the last bits of the bayaynetu – always a sign of a good meal.
If you don’t have time for a full meal or simply can’t find a seat, Tsige is also a nice spot for a coffee with friends during off hours. Each cup is served with sugar in it – if you want black coffee, be sure to ask for it “bado.”
A meal with a soft drink, a main dish and coffee will cost around 55-70 birr, so the food is a great value option in an expensive part of town. After two enjoyable lunches and a few delicious coffees, I will be back soon.
Tsige #2 is located on the street directly behind Bole-Medhanialem church, several doors down from La Mandoline and La Parisienne. The bright yellow sign, mostly written in Amharic, is below.