City Cast

The Best Places to Start Exploring Little Ethiopia

Scott Dickensheets
Scott Dickensheets
Posted on July 13   |   Updated on July 21
Person prepares coffee in Ethiopian restaurant

Coffee is a major element in Ethiopian life. (Sonja Cho Swanson/City Cast Las Vegas)

Last month, the Clark County Commission declared the area around Flamingo and Decatur to be “Little Ethiopia” — the county’s first such heritage district. That’s welcome news not only to the city’s 40,000 Ethiopians, but to anyone with a deep cultural curiosity. Here are a few restaurants and markets where you can begin exploring, courtesy of longtime Las Vegan Messeret Sertse, who recently guested on the City Cast Las Vegas podcast.

Lucy Ethiopian Restaurant

It’s named after “Lucy,” the 3.2 million-year-old fossilized human ancestor discovered in Ethiopia in 1974. “The food is really good,” Sertse says. The menu seems to favor beef and lamb dishes — but has vegan options, too — and, in the Ethiopian manner, “be ready to use your hands.” Bonus: “A lot of art and history about Ethiopia is displayed all over.” [4850 W. Flamingo Road]

Unity Market

A lot of space here is devoted to coffee, and no wonder. “Coffee was discovered in Ethiopia,” Sertse says. So Ethiopians don’t treat it as a simple morning jolt of corpse-reanimation fluid the way most of us do. It’s a central life ritual. “Whether it's politics or family life or personal life, it's done over a cup of coffee.” [6020 W. Flamingo Road]

Messeret Sertse stands in Ethiopian Market

Messeret Sertse in the Unity Market. (Sonja Cho Swanson/City Cast Las Vegas)

Melkam Market

As with several Ethiopian markets, this one has a restaurant space, too. Sertse likes the dabo — Ethiopian honey bread — which is made here using koba leaves. “It looks like a banana leaf,” she says. “They wrap it around before they put it in the oven, so you get the flavor from that leaf.” [4230 S. Decatur Blvd.]

Peace Ethiopian Market and Restaurant

Another restaurant, market, and coffee shop. The proliferation of markets makes sense for a culture rich in diverse spices, ingredients — and language. There are many regional dialects in Ethiopia, Sertse says. If you don’t speak English, “maybe there's somebody (at one market or another) who speaks your language.” [4850 W. Flamingo Road]

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