Last Updated on January 28, 2020 by Angie
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Tana is an Ethiopian restaurant in East Liberty serving up lots of delicious traditional vegetarian and meat stews piled on top of injera, an Ethiopian flatbread. It's a great restaurant for groups as you can basically order a little of everything on the menu and share it all for a traditional feast.
At Tana, Go for the Sampler Platters
Although there are a few appetizers like sambusas (similar to samosas) and salads, the main attractions on the menu are the vegetarian and meat samplers. For these, you pick 5 different dishes and pay per person. On our recent visit we were a group of 4 so we picked 5 meat and 5 vegetarian options to work our way through the menu (everyone can order individually, but if you double up you get more of any given item).
The food is all about the presentation here- definitely come with a large group so you can experience this. The individual dishes are served in little mounds on a massive tray lined with injera, the staple Ethiopian bread.
Injera is thin and spongy and crepe-like, but it's made with a high-protein grain called teff. It's fermented so it has a slight tang like a sourdough bread does. If you want to eat like an Ethiopian, tear a piece of bread off and use it to scoop up the stews – no utensils required! (Although we were given some when we asked for them.)
The meat dishes we ordered included three different beef options (yeaga tibs, yesaga wot, and minchet abish) all with different spices and sauces, one lamb dish (Tano Tibs), and a chicken dish (Doro Tibs). The Minchet Abish was probably one of our favorites; this dish was ground beef with spicy kay wot sauce which was flavored with a complex melange of baking spices and cayenne.
For vegetarian options we tried the misir wot (spiced lentil stew), tikil gomen (a cabbage and carrot stew), shira wot (a chickpea flour stew), ye abesha gomen (collard greens), and fossolia (a green bean and carrot dish). We loved the variety of spices and textures in the vegetarian dishes and preferred most of these to the meat options. Our favorites were the cabbage and carrots with their hint of sweetness and the lentils as they had such an intriguing spice mixture.
Many of the dishes were seasoned with Ethiopian Berbere spice mix which includes a ton of different baking spices that create a lovely warming sensation and a hint of sweetness that's balanced by the paprika and cayenne flavors.
We also have a few reservations about Tana as well. First is that the service was a little awkward and a little bit slow; our server was one of only two in the whole place and she seemed a little bit frazzled. But she was helpful when we asked for guidance on which entrees to pick since we'd never been there before. Second is that the menu is heavily focused on the platters, and may be viewed as small/different compared to Ethiopian restaurants in other cities. So if you have your heart set on a specific Ethiopian dish, you may want to check the menu before heading out to this one.
Overall, if you're looking for a different kind of night out, definitely check out Tana. A meal here is a great way to explore the interesting and complex flavors of Ethiopian cuisine!
Tana is located at 5929 Baum Blvd in East Liberty.