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Aster's Ethiopian in Austin

Aster's Ethiopian in Austin



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How would I describe Ethiopian food to a person who has never tried it (beyond saying, "It's delicious")? Well, for those who have yet to try Ethiopian food, let me start by saying that if you like Indian food you will probably like Ethiopian food. That's not to say that it tastes like Indian food, but it is prepared in a similar fashion, in particular — the layering of flavors.

With Indian food, the base layer of flavor is provided by the masala for that particular dish. Then, layers of other spices are added. With Ethiopian food, dishes often start with a spiced clarified butter called niter kibbeh, to which berberé (an Ethiopian spice mix) and other spices are often added. The resulting dishes are rich and deeply flavored, worthy of a place among the leading cuisines of the world.

So how does Aster's measure up? Well, if you had to judge a book by its cover, you would probably drive right past it just as I did for years. It is a humble, unassuming place on the corner of Dean Keaton and IH-35. But don't let that fool you because inside is some of the best food in Austin. In fact, for the last year I've ended up going at least once a month — even though I live about 20 miles north in Cedar Park. It's that good.

So, what did we have? Let's start with Ethiopia's national dish: doro wott.Doro wott is chicken that has been simmered in a sauce made from onion, garlic, and ginger, sautéed in niter kibbeh, to which berbere and other herbs and spices are added. It's served with a hard-boiled egg, which has also been simmered in the sauce. "Why the egg," you may be wondering? I can think of two reasons off the top of my head: 1) It is traditional and 2) Why not? As a big fan hard-boiled eggs reason number two is my favorite. Doro wott is a very spicy and complex dish, one of my favorites.

Next we tried the menchet-abesh. Menchet-abesh is a spicy dish of ground beef, which may sound a bit pedestrian; after all, there are some people who add Hamburger Helper to ground beef and call it good. Rest assured this dish is about as far away from that as day is to night. Menchet-abesh is simmered in berberé sauce along with garlic, ginger, black pepper and other Ethiopian spices. I highly recommend this dish. If you have a low tolerance to spice you might prefer the similar alicha menchet-abesh.

Each dish is served both on and with injera. Injera is a type of sourdough flat bread made from teff, a grain commonly used in Ethiopia that is now being cultivated in parts of the U.S. It has a somewhat spongy texture and a very bright, tangy flavor. Imagine a porous sourdough pancake, perfect for sopping up stew. Please note that injera is also served as the edible utensil, so if you want silverware be sure to ask.

Prices vary depending on whether you show up for lunch or dinner. Lunch is $6.95 for everything unless you go for the buffet (recommended), which is $9.99. The dinner menu starts at $10.95 and caps out at $14.95. At dinner, each meat dish comes with two vegetarian sides, all of which are great. And for our vegetarian friends out there, they also offer a good variety of dishes that don't use meat. But let's face it, the cuter an animal is, usually the tastier it is too.

Aster's is a fantastic restaurant and comes highly recommended.

Restaurant: Aster's Website
Location: 2804 N IH-35, Austin, TX 78705
Austin Food Junkies' Rating: Four Lone Star Points

The Austin Food Junkies are Alex Artibee, Matt Braley, and Dave Braley, "Two guys who love food, and one chef, trained at the Texas Culinary Institute." Check out their reviews of other Austin area restaurants on their blog, Austin Food Junkies.


Aster's Ethiopian - now open!

I've seen various inquiries about Ethiopian food in Austin, and Aster's is finally open.

It's on I-35, just north of Dean Keeton, on the southbound side.

I haven't tried Aster's dishes that she sells (sold?) at the farmer's market, but when I saw that the restaurant was open, we did a u-turn to check it out. It was opening night, so I won't presume to give a full critique, but it was a pleasant space, with a good-size outdoor patio (screened off from the highway).

The food was all terrific. We had a combination plate, 3 meats and 3 veg. As far as I can remember, we tried the lamb in curry sauce, beef cubes in berbere sauce, and chicken (doro watt?). Our vegs included collard greens, curried lentil stew, and mixed vegetable stew.

I've only had Ethiopian before in NYC, and I was sorry not to see some of my favorite dishes from there at Asters, especially on the veg side (half the choices available are variations on lentils), but everything we had was really tasty and nicely cooked.

They were generous with the injera, too, and provided cutlery without being asked, in case you are unfamiliar/uncomfortable with stews as finger food.

Sorry for the short and superficial write-up, but as I said, I wouldn't feel fair doing a full critique of a restaurant's first night.

If you have any curiosity, it's definitely worth checking out. You might try calling ahead to see if it's BYOB (definitely no wines or beer on the menu, but I don't know the laws around here).


Restaurant Review: Aster's Ethiopian Restaurant

Aster Kassaye and family formerly ran Aster's Ethiopian Restaurant on Rundberg Lane in the early Nineties until they left to rejoin family in Virginia. After her return to Austin, Kassaye had been producing her fare under the label Aster's Ethiopian Catering, selling precooked items at Wheatsville, Whole Foods, Central Market, and local farmers' markets. Now the Kassaye clan again has a restaurant, on the northwest corner of I-35 and Dean Keeton, and we couldn't be happier.

Ethiopian cuisine does not use pork, since the country is Muslim and Ethiopian Orthodox Christian, and there is a wealth of vegetable sides, so vegetarians naturally flock toward Ethiopian venues. The flavor profile resembles Pakistani or Afghani cuisine, crossed with North African: complex layers of spice and piquancy. Food is served on injera, a spongy, crepelike flatbread made with teff flour, which is ground from the seeds of a species of love grass (Eragrostis tef). This bread is also the eating utensil. Although cutlery is provided if requested, it's a lot more fun to eat with your hands (actually it's more of a soft-taco style).

We've cruised the menu at Aster's and tried the bulk of the items, finding them all delicious. There is a 13-item lunch menu: smaller-portion entrée meat or vegetable dishes with two sides and injera for $6.50 (still, a substantial lunch offering). After lunch the menu expands to 18 items, served in larger portions, with prices in the $8 to $13.50 range.

For lunch, we've tried the spicy beef cubes, flavored with Berbere (a spice blend of cumin, fenugreek, cardamom, allspice, cloves, chile, and others), ginger, and garlic. The meat is very tender and the spicing intoxicating. For dinner we've eaten the lamb stew with Berbere ($13.50): unctuous cubes of rich lamb with a few marrow-laden bones included.

The Doro Wott (Ethiopia's national dish, $11.50) is superb: two meaty and tender chicken legs, with a hard-boiled egg, bathed in a thick spice paste. The Kitfo ($12.50) is unique: the Ethiopian version of steak tartar, mixed with spiced butter and mit'mit'a (a chile-based spice with black cardamom and salt). You can get it raw or rare, excellent either way.

We've sampled all of the vegetables, with our favorites being the collard greens (subtly spiced and buttery) and the eggplant (with tomatoes, garlic, onions, and spice). Vegetable prices range from $8 to $12, for the combination plate of as many as you like. There are two salads: Lentil is tart and spicy, with a lemon dressing bread salad is small pieces of injera with tomato, peppers, and onion, tossed in a lemony dressing. The tartness marries well with the rich entrées.

The spicy lentils are sublime: peppery, dark, and rich. The sweet cabbage is combined with green beans, carrots, and onions garlic and ginger in a turmeric sauce. Mild split lentils are rich and soft, with a hint of ginger. The potatoes are a wonderful texture, not too soft or too crisp, in a sauce with cinnamon and ginger, accompanied by some greens beans, tomato, and garlic.

Service is attentive, and the staff is great at making suggestions for the newbies. Currently, Aster's is BYOB, and we'd suggest a lager, preferably Ethiopian: Harar or Bati if you can find them. Another good option is a sturdy ginger beer such as Stewart's or Maine Root. Aster's makes a fine cup of coffee as well apropos, considering Ethiopia is the birthplace of the coffee bean.

Austin is again blessed with a venue for Ethiopian cuisine, and comparing Aster's dishes to those we've sampled in other cities, we can attest that she is producing the real deal. Get over there and give it a try. This is one that we don't want to lose!


Aster's Ethiopian - now open!

I've seen various inquiries about Ethiopian food in Austin, and Aster's is finally open.

It's on I-35, just north of Dean Keeton, on the southbound side.

I haven't tried Aster's dishes that she sells (sold?) at the farmer's market, but when I saw that the restaurant was open, we did a u-turn to check it out. It was opening night, so I won't presume to give a full critique, but it was a pleasant space, with a good-size outdoor patio (screened off from the highway).

The food was all terrific. We had a combination plate, 3 meats and 3 veg. As far as I can remember, we tried the lamb in curry sauce, beef cubes in berbere sauce, and chicken (doro watt?). Our vegs included collard greens, curried lentil stew, and mixed vegetable stew.

I've only had Ethiopian before in NYC, and I was sorry not to see some of my favorite dishes from there at Asters, especially on the veg side (half the choices available are variations on lentils), but everything we had was really tasty and nicely cooked.

They were generous with the injera, too, and provided cutlery without being asked, in case you are unfamiliar/uncomfortable with stews as finger food.

Sorry for the short and superficial write-up, but as I said, I wouldn't feel fair doing a full critique of a restaurant's first night.

If you have any curiosity, it's definitely worth checking out. You might try calling ahead to see if it's BYOB (definitely no wines or beer on the menu, but I don't know the laws around here).


Aster's Ethiopian in Austin - Recipes

You don’t need a time machine or an expensive plane ticket to enjoy unfamiliar culinary experiences. All you have to do is check out these 5 Austin restaurants along Miles 13-18 of the Austin Marathon course. Make the unfamiliar become familiar! Step back in time at a burger joint that opened in 1926 or a local deli that honors old-school delis. Enjoy authentic Thai food, explore the tastes of Ethiopia, or experience pizza from the Motor City. Need more? Add more Austin restaurants along the southern, western, and eastern portions of the Austin Marathon course to your list!

Thai, How Are You? (Mile 13)

Thai, How Are You? prepares authentic and delicious Thai food. Credit – Thai, How Are You? FB page

This gem near the University of Texas serves delicious Thai food and is the caretaker of Daniel Johnston’s Hi, How Are You mural. Thai, How Are You? (2100 Guadalupe St.) is only open for lunch. Their updated menu features curries, noodles, fried rice, and more. Somyong (Noi) Sukkij, owner, uses traditional Thai recipes. She grew up and learned how to cook in a little farming village in Northeastern Thailand (Sichompoo, Khon Kaen).

Dirty Martin’s (Mile 13.5)

This is a true Austin original! Originally Martin’s Kum-Bak, Dirty Martin’s (2808 Guadalupe St.) has been serving burgers and shakes in the same building at the same location since 1926. Fact: it originally had a dirt floor which led to the name Dirty Martin’s! They’ve grown a little since the early days. Gone is the dirt floor. Big-screen TVs hang on the wall. But the way the food is made remains the same.

Via 313 (Mile 14)

The sandwiches at New World Deli are stacked high! Credit – New World Deli Facebook page.

The pizza at Via 313 (3016 Guadalupe St.) is inspired by the memories of two brothers who love Detroit-style pizza. Zane and Brandon opened their first trailer in 2011. Detroit-style pizza is unlike anywhere else. Their pies are rectangle-shaped, baked in metal trays, and filled with just about any ingredient you can imagine. Get the 10吊 and warm-up any leftovers in the oven! Pro tip: don’t skip the Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower!

New World Deli (Mile 14.5)

This local deli and cafe has been family-owned and operated since 1997. New World Deli (4101 Guadalupe St.) builds mouth-watering sandwiches that are piled high with fresh deli meat, various cheeses, and all the trimmings. They also offer burgers, salads, and soups. Enjoy live music when you eat there Monday through Saturday, from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Aster’s Ethiopian Restaurant (Mile 18)

Visit Aster’s for an authentic Ethiopian experience. Credit – Aster’s Facebook page.

Take a trip halfway around the world without leaving Austin. Visit Aster’s Ethiopian Restaurant (2804 N. I-35) and experience tastes, smells, and sounds of Ethiopia. They were established in 1991 and have been family-owned ever since. Their dishes truly represent the Ethiopian culture, especially Doro Wott – Ethiopian’s national dish. Their well-known lunch special runs Tuesday through Friday, from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

You have the information, now you just need to decide where to begin! Do you experience a new country or take a step back in time? This list is the perfect start if you have friends or family coming to town for Austin Marathon weekend. Make sure you double-check their hours before you leave the house. Do you have a place that you love that did not make the list? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.


Aster's Ethiopian in Austin - Recipes

Hours
Sun&ndashThu 11:00am&ndash9:00pm
Fri&ndashSat 11:00am&ndash10:00pm

Bar Beer, wine
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Not accepted

UT Area
2804 N. IH-35
Austin, TX
(512) 469-5966

Aster&rsquos sits under IH-35 on the north end of campus in a shabby green house with Ethiopian knick-knacks on the walls and Astroturf on the floor of the semi-outside dining room. The clientele is mostly grad students, professors, and first dates happy to be somewhere cheap but still unique enough to earn the treater bonus points for exoticism.

Incredibly priced combo plates come with a ton of food. Use injera bread as your utensil (teff, the grain it&rsquos made from, is full of vitamins and amino acids)&mdashbut beware, it fills you up. Some days, it&rsquos more delightfully sour than others. Usually, execution is excellent at worst, it&rsquos a bit greasy and heavy, but still enjoyable. Manchet abesh, ground beef simmered with spices, has a vivid and unexpected flavor of preserved lemon to counterbalance the garlicky meat. Doro wot, the national dish, features a tender chicken drumstick and earthy berbere sauce, with the requisite over-boiled egg. Lentils in all their forms are great alicha miser resembles dal, and keyi miser is rich and complex. Collards are vinegary sweet, and cinnamon-spiced eggplant leaves us hardly missing meat. Vegetarians will be ecstatic here.

Waiters are decked out in traditional dress, Ethiopian music plays on the speakers, and decades-old travel agency posters are everywhere. But the cheese factor is just one more thing to love.


Aster's Ethiopian

How would I describe Ethiopian food to a person who has never tried it (beyond saying, "It's delicious")? Well, for those who have yet to try Ethiopian food, let me start by saying that if you like Indian food you will probably like Ethiopian food as well. That's not to say that it tastes like Indian food, but it is prepared in a similar fashion, in particular - the layering of flavors. With Indian food, the base layer of flavor is provided by the masala for that particular dish. Then, layers of other spices are added. With Ethiopian food, dishes often start with a spiced clarified butter called niter kibbeh, to which berbere (an Ethiopian spice mix) and other spices are often added. The resulting dishes are rich and deeply flavored, worthy of a place among the leading cuisines of the world.

So how does Aster's measure up to this standard? Well, if you had to judge a book by it's cover, you would probably drive right past it just as I did for years. It is a humble, unassuming place on the corner of Dean Keaton and IH-35. But don't let that fool you because inside is some of the best food in Austin. In fact, for the last year I've ended up going at least once a month - even though I live about 20 miles north in Cedar Park. It's that good!

Finally, we tried the Menchet Abesh. Menchet Abesh is a spicy dish of ground beef, which may sound a bit pedestrian after all there are some people who add Hamburger Helper to ground beef and call it good. But rest assured this dish is about as far away from that as day is to night. Menchet Abesh is simmered in berbere sauce along with garlic, ginger, black pepper and other Ethiopian spices. I highly recommend this dish. If you have a low tolerance to spice you might prefer the similar Alicha Menchet Abensh.

2804 N IH-35
Austin, TX 78705
(512) 469-5966
Hours of Operation:
11-9 Tues/Thurs & Sunday
11-10 Fri/Sat
Closed Mondays


Aster's Ethiopian - now open!

I've seen various inquiries about Ethiopian food in Austin, and Aster's is finally open.

It's on I-35, just north of Dean Keeton, on the southbound side.

I haven't tried Aster's dishes that she sells (sold?) at the farmer's market, but when I saw that the restaurant was open, we did a u-turn to check it out. It was opening night, so I won't presume to give a full critique, but it was a pleasant space, with a good-size outdoor patio (screened off from the highway).

The food was all terrific. We had a combination plate, 3 meats and 3 veg. As far as I can remember, we tried the lamb in curry sauce, beef cubes in berbere sauce, and chicken (doro watt?). Our vegs included collard greens, curried lentil stew, and mixed vegetable stew.

I've only had Ethiopian before in NYC, and I was sorry not to see some of my favorite dishes from there at Asters, especially on the veg side (half the choices available are variations on lentils), but everything we had was really tasty and nicely cooked.

They were generous with the injera, too, and provided cutlery without being asked, in case you are unfamiliar/uncomfortable with stews as finger food.

Sorry for the short and superficial write-up, but as I said, I wouldn't feel fair doing a full critique of a restaurant's first night.

If you have any curiosity, it's definitely worth checking out. You might try calling ahead to see if it's BYOB (definitely no wines or beer on the menu, but I don't know the laws around here).


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Aster's Ethiopian in Austin - Recipes

It was not immediate to me reach it since I was riding a bike but once I found it I thought: either the place didn't work, either I was there on the wrong time, because I was almost empty. It was the second option! When I left, it was full :)
The place is humble, the people are very nice, but really the best is the food. At lunch you have a buffet that allows you to try many different things from vegetables to beef. Highly recommendable!

32 - 36 of 70 reviews

Perhaps not the best of locations, being situated just off a dusty highway, but that's all forgotten as soon as you enter. The interior is charming and the staff couldn't be nicer. We ordered the vegetarian platter to share, a mouth-watering array of all the meat-free dishes on the menu served with zesty Injera bread to scoop up by hand. The wine was also delicious and the entire meal was fantastic value for money. Highly recommended.

Go for lunch buffet. Fantastic. Hole in the wall but clean and safe. Friendly service. Great flavor and spices of Ethiopia.

Amazing food. Something different. Unique flavors. It's a little hole in the wall but worth going.

Ah, the rich, aromatic, and invigorating spices of Ethiopian food. Whenever I feel that both my body and soul are hungry, especially after a long bike ride or a day that puts me through the wringer, I immediately think to go here. The space, itself, is very unassuming, with plastic covered tables located right off the highway by the University of Texas. But truth be told, that is a common characteristic of many of my favorite food spots. A family-owned business, everyone who works here is very warm, friendly, and attentive, and food is very reasonably priced and prompt. I usually order the Alicha Miser lentils as my main dish with the Gomen collards, Atakelt Wott cabbage stew, and Azifa cold lentil salad as my sides over the gluten-free injera. And if meat is your thing, I am told that one should not miss out on the Doro Wott, Tibbs, or Alicha Begg Wott. They have a wonderful buffet during lunchtime, so go check that out for even greater savings. And if delicious, fluffy, soft gluten-free injera is a reason for your visit (and it should be, as my non-gluten-free friends have confirmed that it is superior to theirs), I would definitely call in advance (esp. on weekends) to make sure they haven't sold out.


Watch the video: Asters Ethiopian Restaurant in Pictures