Bites Nearby: Savor Ethiopian at Soretti's
Former coffee cafe now serves lunch and dinner in Burtonsville.
Look quick. It is tough to get more than a glimpse of the mauve and blue colors on the front entrance as the traffic whizzes by on Old Columbia Pike. Thankfully, Soretti's Ethiopian Cuisine is now open after the morning and evening commuters finish clogging Route 198 in Burtonsville.
"From the beginning, our intention was to offer light Ethiopian food as well as Ethiopian coffee," says Genet Gonfa, the owner of Soretti's.
The heavy traffic made it difficult for people to stop for an early morning cup to go. That is why the former Cafe Oromia coffee shop was transformed into a full-service restaurant a year ago.
"We do fully traditional Ethiopian foods. We have many varieties, a lot of vegetarian and meat dishes," Gonfa adds. "We do make it as authentic as we know how."
The wife and mother of three learned how to cook from her own mom. It's a talent that runs in the family. Her sister owns a restaurant in Hyattsville. Gonfa also spent time in the kitchen at Red Sea in D.C., a restaurant she says introduced Ethiopian food to a broader audience.
"A lot of people like the Kitfo. Kitfo is like a steak tartar. It's a little rich and spicy," says Gonfa, who lives in the Burtonsville area.
The native of Ethiopia does consider her restaurant's food to be a healthier take on the traditional offerings. As the former owner of a nutrition store, she likes to make the most of Ethiopian flavors while cooking with less fat.
"Anybody who goes out for Ethiopian food a lot could definitely see the difference. The taste is still there but with much less oil," Gonfa explains.
One of her longtime customers stopped by to pick up a vegetarian combo plate for his lunch. Temesgen Negussie started bringing his family and telling friends about Soretti's after he tried the food.
"The food is just like a taste of back home. The food is very good and tasty," says Negussie.
He still gets the imported Ethiopian coffee the restaurant sells along with specialty espresso drinks. Made-to-order fruit smoothies are also on the menu for $4.95 to $6.95.
The vegetarian combo entrees are a colorful selection of red lentils, cabbage and potatoes, split pea, collard greens, string beans and carrots and salads. You will pay $10.95 to $13.95 for those entrees.
Many of the patrons who eat at the restaurant decorated with artwork from Ethiopia choose chicken, beef or lamb dishes. Doro Tibs is popular with patrons. It is a dish of marinated chicken breast cubes sautéed with tomato, onion and pepper sauce. The chicken, lamb or beef tibs are $11.95 to $13.50.
Wot and Alicha are Ethiopian stews. The $12.50 chicken or $11.50 beef Wot are seasoned with berbere chilies, garlic, herbs, onion and ginger. Wot is a spicier selection than the Doro (chicken) Alicha, served with a hard-boiled egg and priced at $11.95.
Soretti's entrees are served with two vegetable side dishes and injera, the traditional Ethiopian yeast bread made out of teff, a super grain high in protein and minerals. Gluton-free injera or rice are also available. Diners can order beer or wine with their meals.
If getting $3.00 off on all entrees sounds good, stop by the restaurant for the lunch special Monday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. You can dine in, get carry out or order catering at Soretti's seven days a week.
Soretti's Ethiopian Cuisine is located at 15510 Old Columbia Pike in Burtonsville. For more information and hours of operation visit the restaurant's website or call (240) 390-0044.