If you are spending those gift cards and catching end of year sales or otherwise find yourself near the clock tower in historic downtown Overland Park, Kansas, make sure that you check out Elsa’s Ethiopian Restaurant at 8016 Santa Fe Drive. The restaurant is a good place to enjoy with both vegan and omnivorous friends and family The owner, Elsa, often comes out from the kitchen and talks with the diners, and she understands and accommodates requests for vegan and gluten-free meals.
The meal in the accompanying photo was vegan, gluten-free, and delicious. It included lentils, chickpeas, cabbage and carrots, collard greens, spicy red lentils, potatoes, and a small fresh lettuce salad in the middle. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Ethiopian cuisine, as was at least one vegan, the spongy mat-looking object covering the platter under the food and the extra rolls are called injera.
Elsa also seems quite happy to demonstrate and explain how to eat the meal Ethiopian style—that is, with your fingers, using only the accompanying injera. When you ask for gluten-free, she will make the injera from teff instead of wheat.
If at all possible, make your first experience enjoying Ethiopian food in a group that includes Ethiopians. At least one vegan is grateful to the Ethiopians who invited her to dine with them at Elsa’s Ethiopian Restaurant and taught her a little about Ethiopian culture, history, and language. The food was delicious, the conversation scintillating, and the experience delightful.