Emame’s Ethiopian Cuisine

Emame's Ethiopian Cuisine

Emame's Ethiopian Cuisine

Location: SW 9th and Washington
Hours: Weekdays, lunchtime

The Story:

Portland has a thriving and robust Ethiopian community with numerous restaurants and markets. We’ve been fans for years since we moved to north Portland and am now even more excited to see that Emame’s has opened a Ethiopian food cart.

There are a few out there who make the snide jokes about Ethiopian food or lack thereof based on the last 30 years of news. Well, let them be ignorant, that’s more amazing food for the rest of us. The first experience with Ethiopian food is something everyone who loves to eat should experience. The individual dishes are served either atop or with injera, a spongy flatbread made from teff, a fine grain from the region. Traditionally, no flatware is supplied – you eat the meal with your hands and part of the experience is to tear off a piece of injera and use it to grasp the salads or stews before you. While feeding yourself, you also feed your partner, by hand, creating a sensual eating experience.

Emame’s menu has the traditional dishes I have come to expect – stewed meats in berbere sauce; lentils simmered in berbere sauced and onions; salads. Berbere s a spice mixture whose ingredients usually include chili peppers, ginger, cloves, coriander, allspice, and rue berries and is a key ingredient in Ethiopian and Eritrean food. While it can be spicy if paired with other hot peppers, in and of itself, berbere is more flavorful than spicy. The dish I enjoyed was the miser alecha, split lentils sauteed with onions, garlic, ginger and spices. The meal was served with plenty of injera, a side salad with mixed greens and a chopped cabbage salad. The injera, soft and spongy was the best wrap for the lentil dish. I could taste hints of the garlic and ginger mixed with a bit of earthiness from the lentils. While Emame’s did provide me with utensils, I used the injera throughout the meal, scooping up every little bit and shoving it in my mouth to enjoy. Be sure to have plenty of napkins.

Trust me, eating with your fingers is a wonderful experience and allows you to get closer to the food and maybe enjoy it on a different level. Reason 1 why I love Ethiopian food. The lot at SW 9th and 10th and Alder which use to house Escape from New York Pizza back in the day has become the international food court for food carts and now we have our second cart from Africa. Let’s welcome Emame’s to the food cart community and enjoy some great food. When you visit, and I know you will, let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

All dishes are $6 and are served with injera, a side and a sauce

  • Dora Watt: Ethiopian National Dish; spicy chicken slowly simmered in Berbere sauce and other spices.
  • Siga Watt: beef stewed with berbere sauce then flavored with onions, garlic and ginger root.
  • Tibs: beef cubed and sauteed in Kibe (Ethiopian clarified butter) and seasoned with onions, tomatoes, and spices.
  • Miser Kay Wat: red split lentils simmered in berbere sauce, onions, garlic and ginger.
  • Miser Alecha: split lentils sauteed with onions garlic, ginger and spices.

Hours: Monday-Friday, lunchtime
Contact: unknown



  1. I haven’t had a chance to try it, but the smell coming off the place is shockingly good. I can’t wait to get down there!

  2. Just tried to today, it’s delicious! Also, the line is quick because they have all the stews simmering in Crock-Pots and just need to assemble the meals.

  3. I’ve had this several times now and i am blown away every time! It is the best Ethiopian food I’ve ever had! You must try this!

  4. Sammy Jamison says

    Took my wife as well as my son and his family down on the Grand Opening day. This is great food. I ordered the Tibbs and recommend it. We loved the whole eat-with-your-hands experience. Emame is such a great lady and an excellent cook.

  5. Eric Forman says

    Had the Dora Watt for lunch today. Powerful flavors and very filling entree. Welcome addition to the Alder Pod. Proprietress is super-friendly – check it out!

  6. We tried this for the first time today. The berbere sauce is very nice, fragrant and savory with a little bit of heat. We had both the chicken (Dora Watt), beef (Siga Watt), and lentils (Miser Kay Wat) with stewed cabbage and the flatbread. The flatbread was more like a pancake than a naan, but great for sopping up the gravy. For $6, it’s really hard to beat.

  7. If you haven’t yet tried Ethiopian food, do yourself a favor and do so. I have known the cook (Sosena) personally for a number of years and have eaten in their home a number of times. It’s always a treat. If time allows, be sure to say hello. You’ll find Sosena to be very delightful.

  8. I went to 10th and Washington today. But this cart isn’t here. Where would it be?

  9. Stephanie,
    It is located on SW 9th and Washington, on SW 9th between Alder and Washington.

  10. Miser Kay Wat was amazing! First time here and I was practically licking the styrofoam box. Definitely will go back and try the rest of the menu. Also, a pretty big amount for just $6!!

  11. Awesome food! I had never tried Ethiopian food and now I’m pretty much addicted. Give it a try if you normally don’t try new things. Emame is such a wonderful and sweet person that she alone makes me want to keep coming back (her great food helps too!)

  12. Tried the Miser Kay Wat today, top notch Ethiopian cuisine! Fast NO BS service to boot.

  13. Went to Portland for the first time this past weekend, and decided to try out some Ethiopian food since I do not believe we have any of those in Vancouver, and I vaguely recalled reading about an Ethiopian food cart on this site). The food smelled and tasted wonderful (oh, the spices!) and the owner was very nice. If I lived there, I would definitely return.

  14. The best Ethiopian food I ever tasted. Huge portions. My food lasted for a couple of meals. So reasonable for a lot of good food.

  15. This woman really knows her stuff. I have tasted Ethiopian food all across the country from Seattle to Washington DC and straight out of Ethiopia and no one in Portland can compare to her Doro Wat. With her sweet disposition to match you can not go wrong at this great food cart. It really is a vegetarians dream as well. Her Samosas that she makes are off the chain too and I love the fact that she serves (IBEA) the fresh white cheese with the Doro Wat. It is really hard to find really, really good Ethiopian food as it is. So make no mistake she really knows how to burn her pepper and if you don’t understand what that means you can ask her when she serves you up a great serving of her tasty peppery sauce. Love this spot!

  16. By the way, there is now a sign that says they are CLOSED on SUNDAY and TUESDAY. Just a heads up!

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