This spot is a relatively well-known establishment in Minneapolis. It even had a spot in a movie filmed in Minneapolis featuring Jeremy Sisto and Kristin Chenoweth, called Into Temptation. While portrayed in this movie as a night club, it’s actually an Ethiopian restaurant with a “lounge” downstairs that sometimes does in fact open up a dance floor. Blue Nile Restaurant definitely draws an eclectic group of people.
Located in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, I wouldn’t recommend venturing to this spot along late at night. However, the food here is worth the trip to get some exposure to some Eastern African fare. The inside is relatively sprawling, with tables in the center areas and booths like the ones shown below encircling the edges. There’s a large island bar in the center of the restaurant, too. Overall, the interior feels a little cave-like and crosses somewhere between casual and dive. Maybe a little more dive when you consider the tilting tables and torn leather on the chairs and booth benches.
If you’ve never had Ethiopian, the image below pretty much sums it up. Most of their dishes are stews or “wat/maraka/zignee” and can appear somewhat like mush. But it’s delicious mush! Their main spice mix (similar to curry) is berbere, and its flavors permeate most of their food. It is also customary to share food and eat from the same plate. We had the Gosa Gosa C, combination sampler, which is the best way to get a taste of most of the dishes on the menu. It’s served with “bideena” or “injera”, which is a spongy, sourdough-like flavored bread. You eat with your fingers by tearing off a piece of this bread and scooping up the food. This is similar to some Indian traditions.
The Gosa Gosa C Combination Sampler includes the following:
- Maraka Lukku – Chicken marinated in spiced sauce and cooked with Ethiopian spiced butter, onion, tomato, garlic and a touch of ginger. Served in the traditional way with a boiled egg.
- Maraka Sangaa – Tender beef simmered in baerbarre sauce and flavored with ginger root, garlic, and exotic Ethiopian spices.
- Maraka Sangaa Hurdii – Delectable chunks of beef and potato cubes simmered in a mild curry sauce.
- Maraka Hoolaa – Delicious cubed lamb simmered in barbarre sauce; flavored with ginger root, garlic and other exotic spices.
- Kurumbaa – Shredded cabbage, potatoes, carrots and onions perfectly blended in a mildly spicy vegetable broth.
- Okaa – Ground chickpea roasted with barbarre sauce, onions, ginger and tomatoes.
- Foule – Fava beans sautéed with onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, garlic, ginger and a blend of spices.
- Missiraa Gurracha – Tasty dark lentils cooked with onions, garlic, jalapenos and our house sauce.
- Missiraa Diimaa – Spicy red lentils cooked with barbarre, onions, and garlic.
- Kikkii – Delicately mild yellow split peas cooked with onions, jalapenos, garlic and a blend of spices.
- Sides of berbere (for heat) and yogurt (to cool)
From the meat dishes, my favorites were the Maraka Sangaa and Maraka Hoolaa. From the vegetarian dishes, my favorites were the Missiraa Diimaa and Okaa.
I should also mention that they have a pretty good beer list, though I didn’t partake during this visit.
Entrees are $10-15, but I think the best thing to do is go for a combination platter (or “combination sampler” as their online menu states) and share with someone. At $22.50, this is a great deal.