Thursday, September 9, 2010

Soretti's Ethiopian Cuisine in Burtonsville

Our outlet for Ethiopian food continues to expand and improve as Soretti's Ethiopian Cuisine converts to a casual restaurant.

Soretti's Ethiopian is the name of the family-run restaurant on Rte 198 in Burtonsville. It opened as Coffee Oromia and sold a few Ethiopian items under a coffee shop menu. Now, the rechristened spot serves a broader menu of beef, chicken, lamb and vegetable stews.

I don't claim Soretti's competes with the Ethiopian hotspots in DC.  But it's a great casual option for injera and the vegetable, beef and chicken stews that make Ethiopian unique, tasty and really healthy as well.  The injera bread isn't Mrs. HowChow's favorite, so I have stopped at Soretti's most often for lunch.  The vegetable combination has become my go-to dish because you get a half-dozen flavors that make for a memorable meal.  Lentils, beans, carrots, greens, cabbage -- they're all recognizable and accessible, but cooked with flavors make them new.

I'm also a sucker for Ethiopian meat stews.  The meat often seems lean and can be tough, but the right stews are spicy and delicious.  Beef or chicken tibbs are easy entries into the cuisine.  If you go with two people, I'd recommend ordering two combinations -- one vegetarian and one meat.  You'll get to try most of the menu, and you'll be bound to find something that you like.  And you need to eat the entire injera that comes under your stews.  The sauces soak into the bread, and those soaked pieces can be the best part of the meal.

Soretti's is a comfort food like of place.  You sit at a casual table, and the owner comes around from the counter to take your order.  If you're new to Ethiopian, just know that you eat with your hands.  You'll get injera under the stews, plus more pieces on the side.  You rip bite-sized pieces of bread, then use them to scoop up the stews.  If you can eat guacamole with a Frito, then you can eat Ethiopian.  It's easy and fun.

(Update: Soretti's has just gotten nicer in 2011.  They spruced up the art and the curtains at the front.  In early spring, they were running an $8.50 special at lunch.  Still a huge plate of food, but a special price.  The vegetarian combination had five items, including greens, lentils, and a spicy tomato salad.  Check out the injera made from authentic teff -- an Ethiopian grain that makes a drier, less sour bread.)

Burtonsville is super-convenient off Rte 29, and it is just one exit south of Howard County.  If you're go down there, check out the the homemade ice cream at Seibel's or consider dinner at Cuba de Ayer or Maiwand Kabob.

Soretti's Ethiopian Cuisine

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. Soretti's is a block up on the right next to a Maiwand Kabob outlet.

Soretti's Ethiopian Cuisine on Urbanspoon


Summer R said...

Thanks for introducing me to this place a while back! I had been looking for a place for Ethiopian and didn't want to have to hike up to Baltimore. I found the food at Soretti's to be delicious! I recommend the Beef Wot and the Chicken Tibs. Both are excellent! The owner is also really welcoming!

Amber F. said...

We were just there recently, thanks to the great deals from! I am also not a fan on injera, but I love the tastes of the meats and veggies. I wonder if it would be a great offense to eat with a spoon instead of the bread?

You should try the appetizer GOMEN BE-AYIB (Collard greens minced with homemade cheese and herbed butter; served with bread). We had it last time and it was fantastic.

Steve Fine said...

I love the veggies, meats, and the injera. The service is great too. they also have excellent coffee.

fultie said...

Just a few days ago I stopped in after picking up take out from Maiwand Kabob next door. What caught my attention as I was leaving Maiwand was the $6.95 lunch price advertised by Soretti's front door. I thought "Hey I'll just have the kabob for dinner" and decided to give this place a go. Tried the beef wot and enjoyed it. Nice and spicy, and I'm good with the sour dough injera pancakes. Had some strong beer to go with the food - overall a very nice meal, and will go there again, as it is much closer than the Ethiopian restaurants in Adams Morgan or Georgetown.

Anonymous said...

I really don't understand the craze over Ethiopian food. I find it bland and uninteresting, with many unpleasant textures to boot. It seems to me to be a case of Emperor's New Clothes. Many of you have not even tried REAL Ethiopian food like raw beef with a giant slab of yellow, raw fat. Yum! You'll be chewing for hours and hours while you pretend to enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

I recently did a "take out" of the veggie platter. Amazing! My family loved the greens and the potatoe dishes. Great to have such diversity so close to home in Columbia, MD.

Megan said...

My husband and I went to Soretti's for dinner this week. We had a fabulous meal which completely held up to the meals we've had at various restaurants in Silver Spring.

Our waitress brought us a sample of authentic injera, made with 100% teff. Apparently, the authentic stuff is very difficult to make here, so most places cut the injera with wheat flour. It makes such a difference to the food! Where normally I find myself trying to hold that balance between enough bread to hold the food but not so much that I fill up on just bread, with the all-teff injera, the injera flavor sort of subsides to let the stews take precedence. None of the flavors got lost behind the injera, and the injera lost that sponginess to it that I'd become accustomed to.

She said that since it's harder to work with, they charge more for all-teff injera, but we've decided that when we go back (and oh man will we go back), it's worth the premium. I highly recommend at least asking about the all-teff injera.