Food & DrinkFebruary 16, 2011 at 7:15 am

Review: Kaffa Crossing

Make the trek westward for some quality Ethiopian cuisine.

Christina Wu

If the forties are a little too far over the hill for you, you’ve been missing out on some seriously authentic Ethiopian grub — at least as far as Kaffa Crossing is concerned.

It’s true, nothing about this place is anything like the trendy ethnic restaurants you’ll find in Center City or other Philly hotspots; Kaffa’s like a coffee shop that settled down for dinner one night and decided it might be a good idea to let everyone else in. And they move at a down–home pace, too, so if you decide to make the trek, don’t show up without a bottle of cheap red wine and a lot of time on your hands.

Kaffa’s menu is succinct but colorful, with appetizers like Timatim–Fitfit (injera — a spongy bread made out of teff flour that’s a staple of Ethiopian cuisine — mixed with tomatoes, onions, jalapeños and special spices for $5.50) and a Hummus Platter for the slightly fainter–mouthed.

The entrees are sectioned into vegetarian and meat options. The veggie side of things features items like Tofu Wot ($6.95), a vegan dish of tofu cooked in a sweet red sauce with onion, garlic and spices, and the Ethiopian Vegetable Combination (yellow split peas, spiced split lentils, collared greens, string beans, carrots and salad for $8.45).

On the carnivorous side cow, chicken and lamb are all represented; I went for Beef Tibs, a stir–fry dish of jerkey–like beef masquerading under the title of “tender.” It was quite tasty but not as delicious looking as the vegetables. The beef is cooked alongside onions, tomatoes, jalapeños and spiced butter and arrives bordered like a tiny protein–packed oasis by your vegetarian dishes. Everything is served on a bed of injera, and the chef — the kitchen is a one–woman show — throws in two extra pieces on the side.

There isn’t much in the way of dessert, but Kaffa makes up for it with a beverage menu that includes Ethiopian coffee and spiced tea. And everything’s Free Trade, so you can add karma points where you lost calories.

4423 Chestnut St.
(212) 386–0504
Don’t Miss: The Vegetable Combination (especially with the lentrils and carrots)
Skip: The water tastes funky. Go bottled or go home.

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