Harlem is saturated with restaurants serving delicious and plentiful food. For comforting Ethiopian cuisine, locals head to Zoma (2084 Frederick Douglass Boulevard; 212-662-0620).
The space is simple, and the menu is unfussy. All platters come with delightfully sour, spongy injera (like a thick and chewy teff crepe) that you tear with your fingers and use to scoop up your choice of stew. The meat offerings are all delicious. But on hot summer days, a vegetarian combination fills you up without quite knocking you down.
Collard greens (gomen) are stewed until they’ve kept just enough bite, flavored lightly with ginger, garlic, and onions. Atakilt wett, with carrots, potatoes, cabbage, and onions, provides numerous shapes and textures. Misir wett is slightly spicy, with lentils cooked just to the point of breaking easily. And shiro wett, with its combination of chickpeas, lentils, and smooth, pulverized peas, is richly spiced with berbere into pure “Ethiopian comfort food.”
The combinations are meant to be shared, and while plenty of wispy women can be seen impressively downing their own platters with gusto, one will comfortably feed two moderate eaters. If you’re particularly hungry/don’t want to wait, start with an order of kategna — injera toasted and rubbed liberally with clarified butter and berbere. It’s perfect for impatient fingers, and alone worthy of the trip to Harlem’s popping restaurant district.
The Village Voice is counting down to our Best of New York City issue in October. We’re combing the city every day, one dish at a time, to guide you to the most delicious food in NYC. These are our 100 Favorite Dishes for 2015, in no particular order, save for the top 10. To read about previous dishes, browse our 100 Favorite Dishes page.