A peek inside Nile Ethiopian Bistro's cozy new space (Photo by Jason Tesauro)
Ten years after founding the original Nile on Laurel Street, the Teklemariam family is bringing its Ethiopian restaurant to Church Hill.
Brothers Yoseph and Benyam Teklemariam first laid eyes on the 96-year-old commercial building at 306 N. 29th St. years ago but settled into the VCU district instead. Now, after eight years near the college, a continuing hot-bar arrangement at Ellwood Thompson's, and a brief collaboration with Portrait House in Carytown, they've reemerged with a new space of their own, which soft-opened Tuesday in the former Str8 Out of Philly location. While the brothers Teklemariam get a feel for their new business, you can stop by for dinner service (4 to 9 p.m.) and lunch over the weekend (starting at noon), until Nile Ethiopian Bistro grand-opens on Tuesday, Aug. 30. And this time, its owners are positioning Nile as a specialty café.
Like Stroops around the corner, Nile’s cozy setting has a few tables plus high stools in picture windows. But you don’t even have to sit; the new incarnation aims for a robust to-go business with healthy take-out and pre-packaged foods, including its signature Berbere and Mitmita spice mixes.
The new Nile showcases traditional Ethiopian dishes such as wat (stew, curry), tibs (meat and/or vegetable sauté) and gomen (slow-cooked greens), but it also goes beyond. One can’t-miss dish is the Ayib Tikel: house-made farm cheese seasoned with mitmita, rolled in injera “and cut into morsels of joy,” as the menu reads. The Teklemariam family counts two certified health coaches among it, and mother Yeshareg Demisse has specialized in macrobiotic lifestyle for 25 years. Their easy-to-understand menu features plenty of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options prepared with organic meats and served with steaming, fresh injera, Ethiopia’s crêpe-like, whole-grain, gluten-free bread made from teff flour.
Appetizers range from $4.50 to $7.75, and entrées and combination plates can be ordered in small or large sizes and run from $5 to $11 for vegetarian, $8 to $15 for meat and $11 to $17 for combination. If you’re new to Ethiopian cuisine, stop by Church Hill's newest addition and submit to exotic flavors, nourish yourself with the proven effects of turmeric, ginger and garlic, and indulge in the family-style, eat-with-your-hands simplicity of Teklemariam hospitality.
Nile Ethiopian Bistro is now soft-open at 306 N. 29th St. Once it grand-opens on Aug. 30, find it serving lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.