“Salaam,” is a typical greeting you can expect to receive upon entering the Dahlak Restaurant and Bar, which is one of Philly’s most renowned African restaurants. Patrons are always greeted with an affable welcome and a warm smile. Dahlak features a variety of native dishes from Ethiopia and Eritrea as well as other dishes that satisfy everyone’s preferences – from vegetarians to meat lovers.
The setting of the restaurant presents a cultural ambiance that transports customers to the Africa with many ethnic paintings, tapestries, plants, music, colorful walls, candle lighting and traditional dinner settings. The dining crowd consists of a large array of different ethnicities from all age groups. You will be seated at a custom dining setup, which consists of smaller padded stools, a round woven table made of straw and a separate wooden table used to hold drinks. The surroundings help to set a relaxed and serene atmosphere with ethnic music, dim lighting, colorful handmade decorations, delectable aroma and a laid-back vibe.
Take a break and relieve yourself from the physical and mental stress of your daily routine and view the world in another light. Start out your night by ordering one of the most popular drinks on the menu called suwa. It tastes like a stronger version of beer. Mies is another popular alcoholic drink that leaves the sweet taste of honey in your mouth.
For those of you who do not drink alcohol, they also have a variety of fruit juices and sodas to choose from. And of course, don’t forget to order an appetizer to munch on while you sip on your drink and wait for your main course. For this portion you should definitely order the sambussa, which has a crispy shell similar to pot stickers. The filling contains a medley of soft lentils, fiery chili and many delicious herbs.
When ordering the main course, it is traditional for a group to share a large plate and order several different meats, vegetables, stews and sauces that are then divided into separate portions for each person.
Injera is the traditional Ethiopian and Eritrean bread featured in every main course. It is similar to a large tortilla on which the different varieties of meat, sauces and vegetables are placed. In order to eat these exquisite dishes, one must be prepared to skip utensils and use their hands to eat. First you rip off a piece off the bread, and then dip it in the various spicy sauces. Then you scoop up pieces of meat and vegetables with the Injera and pop it into your mouth. Perhaps you will want to order the yedoro watt, which consists of spicy tender chicken cooked in berbere sauce, served with a hard-boiled egg. If you are sensitive to spicy foods, then make sure that you do not order a dish with the word “watt” next to it – that means it’s hot. Zilbo is another excellent dish, and consists of lamb mixed with a combination of collard greens and a sauce that will please your palate. If you love to eat spicy food you will find that these two dishes are seasoned to perfection. If you would rather take a safer route, you can choose from a variety of pasta dishes or order one of the many salad combinations on the menu.
If you’re not too stuffed after eating the main course, try some of the amazing desserts. A recommended favorite is baklaba, a sweet, thin and crispy piece of pastry dusted with a touch of hazelnut. The only qualm that I had about the restaurant was that the service was a bit slow, due to the fact that there were only two waiters.
If you like spicy food and are interested in acquiring a new taste that will enrich your diet then you should try dining at the Dahlak Restaurant and Bar. Your experience will prove to be extremely exhilarating, culturally enlightening and undeniably memorable.
Keshia Baird can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.