Monday, July 14, 2008

Coffee Oromia: Ethiopian in Burtonsville

Ethiopian food is one of Washington's great treasures, and injera, tibs and other African delicacies have reached as far north as the southern edge of Howard County.

Coffee Oromia in Burtonsville offers an authentic -- if short -- menu of Ethiopian dishes in the casual dining area that also serves coffee and a breakfast that includes bagels, beignets and Ethiopian grits ("kinche").

(Update: Coffee Oromia changed its name to Cafe Oromia at some point in 2009. They increased the Ethiopian menu.)

The injera alone is worth stopping if you have a taste for the flat, spongy bread that is the hallmark of Ethiopian eating. Coffee Oromia serves dishes like beef or lamb tibs -- cubed meat cooked with onion, peppers and spices into what might look like chunky pasta sauce -- on a platter-sized piece of injera with another piece on the side. You rip pieces of injera and use them to scoops up the meat and the sides of lentil stew, chopped greens, etc. The bottom injera that soaks up the sauces is often the most-delicious part.

Also try the sambusa -- pastries filled with meat or lentils. They're cousins of the samosas at the Maiwand Kabob next door to Coffee Oromia.

This isn't Adams Morgan, and it isn't a full-service restaurant. The injera and lentils were delicious. The beef tibbs were good, but more tough than tender. Think of Coffee Oromia as a great place to work into errands that you already have to run in Burtonsville or Rockville. It is right on Rte 198 just west of Rte 29, easy to reach and worth a stop. I enjoyed a late lunch, reading a newspaper and listening to the owners talk to customers as they filtered through.

Coffee Oromia is next-door to a branch of Maiwand Kabob and a building east from Cuba de Ayer -- a casual Cuban restaurant that is absolutely worth a drive from Columbia.

Coffee Oromia
15510 Old Columbia Pike (Rte 198)
Burtonsville, MD 20866

NEAR: This is on Rte 198 just west of Rte 29. From Howard County, you take the first exit on Rte 29 south of the river. That exit puts you on an old piece of Rte 29 that passes an Indian temple and a garden center. Turn right on Rte 198 at the traffic light. Coffee Oromia is a block up on the right next to a Maiwand Kabob outlet. There is a sign.

Coffee Oromia on Urbanspoon

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