The hardest part of eating vegetarian is explaining to the family that the flamingo tongues at the Saturnalia banquet still count as meat. Find a corner of the culinary kingdom where meat-eaters and herbivores can meet with today's Groupon: for $12, you get $25 worth of Ethiopian fare at Aster's Ethiopian Restaurant.
Aster's Ethiopian Restaurant wafts international cultural knowledge through the Southwest via the aromas of complexly flavored beef, chicken, and vegetables during lunch and dinner. The ontologically complex doro watt immerses tender chicken alongside a hard-boiled egg in berbere sauce ($12.95 for dinner), described as a "superb" rendition of Ethiopia's national dish in a rave Austin Chronicle review. Armed only with a raft of tangy injera, diners dive mouth first into the spicy keyi siga wott, whose tender beef morsels float in berbere sauce flavored with onions, garlic, and ginger root ($12.95 for dinner). Chefs infuse the gomen's collard greens with Ethiopian style by simmering them with onions and mild seasonings ($10.95 for dinner), and the azifa packs serrano-based mit'mit'a seasoning and green peppers into a lentil salad for palate-clearing spice ($10.25 for dinner). Tucked between I-35 and a secret shortcut to Addis Ababa, cinnamon-hued walls draw out the warm colors in traditional paintings hung within the simple urban eatery that Texas Monthly counted among its Top 10 Places to Eat in Central Austin.
Aster's Ethiopian Restaurant
Aster Kassaye’s family has always naturally flocked to the kitchen, whether it was in their Ethiopian restaurant in the early '90s or at home today, where they prepare precooked meals to sell at farmers' markets. After a few years of itinerant cooking, Aster laid claim to what is now Aster’s Ethiopian Restaurant. Her dinner menu items—which an Austin Chronicle reporter "tried the bulk of" and proclaimed were "all delicious"—include cubes of lamb stewed in ginger, cumin, and chili, as well as vegetarian meals such as gomen, a dish of Ethiopian-style collards cooked with garlic and spices. Diners can fill their bellies and their ventriloquist dummy’s mouth at an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., savoring the spices that earned the restaurant a spot on Texas Monthly's list of the Top 10 Places to Eat in Central Austin in 2010.