This was not a restaurant, or at least it didn’t feel like one. Red upholstered benches lined the walls and brass lamps lit up cozy eating corners. The ceiling fans gave a most welcome movement to the stagnant, heavy air as the heat on this particular evening made it seem as if we really were in Ethiopia. It was the aptly named Ethiopian Restaurant, at Währinger Straße 15 in the 9th District, one of the newest, and surely the most exotic, offerings on the Vienna scene.
We arrived at 19:30, just as evening was falling. For the most part it was quiet. Ethiopian pop was playing subtly in the background and one customer was drinking a beer outside.
The warm wood paneling and the center staircase spoke not for a restaurant, but for Grandma’s cottage. Warm colours and delicious smells, African art and vinyl floral-print tablecloths all beckoned us to take a seat and have a nice hearty meal.
And then Seifu appeared with a big smile on his face. He owns the restaurant with his wife Tewabech, who is also the chef. After living in Vienna and working for OPEC for 35 years, Seifu retired two years ago. They decided to open an establishment for Ethiopian cuisine in the 9th District and it’s been running strong since February.
Seifu ushered us to a table, smiling all the while, and said simply, “honey wine”. We shrugged and nodded our heads as he scampered off into the back of the restaurant.