By Marielle Songy, Mid-City Messenger
Addis Nola will soon be serving authentic Ethiopian dishes from a new home. The family-run restaurant is planning to move from South Broad to Bayou Road in the fall.
Addis Nola was opened in 2019 by Ethiopian native Biruk Alemayehu to connect New Orleans with the culture of her homeland and bring people together through a communal experience with food.
“She wanted to offer something unique and new that hadn’t been done in New Orleans,” said Alemayehu’s son Prince Lobo, the restaurant’s general manager and co-owner. “We were inspired by a communal restaurant in Atlanta that does something similar. There is so much African culture in New Orleans, and we wanted to create a place where New Orleanians could experience East African culture.”
One of the standouts at Addis Nola is the restaurant’s coffee ceremony, in which green coffee beans are hand roasted, ground and brewed into fresh coffee right before the diners’ eyes. The ceremony is uniquely Ethiopian and is what Lobo described as similar to a saging practice.
“The ceremony highlights the origin of coffee and taking green, raw beans and roasting them by hand,” Lobo said. “Ethiopia is credited as the origin of Arabica coffee. It’s been imbedded into the culture, and Ethiopia is one of the biggest producers and consumers of coffee in the world. It’s about acknowledging the history of the true essence of Ethiopian coffee.”
The menu is full of delicious options, but Lobo describes the vegan selection as the most popular. The veggie combo is red lentils, collard greens, yellow split peas, beets, cabbage with carrots and green lentils served on a platter in a rainbow of colors.
The food at Addis is served family-style, with all of the entrees on one plate. This encourages a communal experience, Lobo said, and deepens the connection with those you are dining with as well as the food.
Ethiopian food is eaten with the hands, using the staple of Ethiopian cuisine: a spongy flatbread called injera. The bread is served with every dish at Addis Nola and becomes a utensil to consume the food and soak up the flavors and spices of the dishes.
Another specialty at Addis Nola is a whole fried red snapper prepared traditionally with local ingredients and served with jasmine rice, tomatim sauce, and mitmita, a mix of Ethiopian seasonings.
“When you look at the menu, there’s traditional cooking styles,” Lobo said. “One is Tibs, which is a sauté with onions, tomatoes, jalapeños, berberé spice and some butter. We serve that with different proteins such as fish, lamb, chicken, beef and shrimp. For first-timers, that’s a great place to start.”
The national dish of Ethiopia is a spiced chicken dish called Doro Wot. Addis’ version is served with chicken breast and a hard-boiled egg in a caramelized onion stew that simmers on low heat for 24 hours before it’s served. If you’re looking for the most authentic dish on the menu, Lobo said, Doro Wot is what you should order.
While Addis Nola has enjoyed great success on South Broad, near the Criminal Court building, Lobo is excited about the move to Bayou Road, a bustling street where Black businesses have blossomed over the past few years.
Addis Nola’s move is a big step for the restaurant. The space will be larger and will allow the team to highlight more aspects of Ethiopian food and culture. Addis will also will offer a happy hour and a brunch.
“The new location will have a full bar menu, and we’re going to use ingredients and have different cocktails that people haven’t experienced before,” Lobo said. “Our coffee ceremony will take place in a special room, almost like a traditional tea ceremony.”
The new location at 2514 Bayou Road will open at a yet-to-be-decided date in the fall. Addis Nola plans to celebrate its grand opening with a street festival that will highlight local culture, entrepreneurs and businesses of Bayou Road. The event, called Afreaux, will take place on Oct. 14 and 15.
“I’m excited to begin collaborating and getting into this community that I feel is New Orleans’ Black Wall Street,” Lobo said. “One of the biggest reasons we wanted to move into this space is because of how many other Black-owned businesses are on the street: Froot Orleans, Coco Hut, The Half Shell and Community Book Center — just to name a few.
“There are a lot of great businesses and we want to put our own stamp on the street. We want to show that Bayou Road is here for good and there are some amazing things that are happening here.”
Addis Nola is open Wednesday through Monday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m.
Reporter Marielle Songy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.