Nanya Cafe is Dayton's first Ethiopian restaurant is several years. Video by Amelia Robinson
Photo: Amelia Robinson
Photo: Amelia Robinson

Sink your teeth into Dayton’s super charming, Ethiopian restaurant

Sofi Kinde strives to serve up culture with every dish at her bright and relaxing Ethiopian restaurant and no, you won’t need a fork to take it all in. 

From Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and raised in Columbus where her mom owned a restaurant, Kinde opened Nanyea Restaurant Coffee House & Bar more than three years ago at 5214 N. Main Street in Harrison Twp., Montgomery County. The restaurant later moved to its current location in 2018 at 6129 N. Dixie Drive, also in Harrison Twp.

>> More local restaurants — including some of our oldest and youngest — to reopen this week

Nanyea reopened its dining room after the mandatory shutdown of all dine-in services over the weekend, and will continue to offer carryout and delivery.

The restaurant will offer carryout and delivery only during the week, from noon to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and open its dining room on Fridays and Saturdays only, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. It is closed on Sundays.

Nanya Café is Dayton's first Ethiopian restaurant in a number of years. Photo by Amelia Robinson
Photo: Amelia Robinson

Nanyea is named for Sofi’s beloved grandma. A portrait of Nanyea hangs on the wall. 

Kinde, a Sinclair graduate, told us upon opening she partly opened the restaurant to cater to the Dayton’s Ethiopian community. 

She now draws diners from around Dayton with tantalizing dishes eaten on and with spongy injera bread. 

Nanyea was one of the featured restaurants during the popular Ethnosh series designed to showcase immigrant-owned restaurants in Dayton. It hosted three special meals in December.

The restaurant is cozy and diners are encouraged to linger with pots of bitterly delicious Ethiopian coffee after meals.

Incense is burned during coffee and heightens the chill of the experience. 

Nanya Café is Dayton's first Ethiopian restaurant in a number of years. Photo by Amelia Robinson
Photo: Amelia Robinson

Kinde sees Nanyea’s as more than just a restaurant and hang out. 

“I like to talk all my customers one-on-one,” Sofi told us. “I want to be there for the community, teaching the culture.” 

MUST TRY DISHES

The aroma of berbere sauce (a chili pepper sauce ) and spices waffled out of the kitchen during our visit.

For variety, we tried the $35 mixed meat combo, which was large enough to easily feed three or four. It was a good amount for two hungry diners. 

The vegetarian combo is just $12. 

Vegetarian dishes are under $10 each and range from Tegabino Shiro (chickpeas cooked in light berbere chili sauce with onions, tomatoes and jalapeno) to Gomen be Siga (collard greens cooked in spices with onion, garlic and jalapeno.)

For our combo, we selected chicken tibs ( marinated chicken cubes sauteed with Ethiopian seasoning, spinach, onions, tomato, jalapeno and kibe — clarified butter); Nanyea’s Tibs (ingredients similar to chicken tibs) and Kitfo, minced raw beef marinated in mitmita — a hot chili pepper— as well as kibe and spices and served with cottage cheese and collard greens.

Nanya Café is Dayton's first Ethiopian restaurant in a number of years. Photo by Amelia Robinson
Photo: Amelia Robinson

The deliciously spiced sauce soaked into the injera and we gobbled it and our tibs. 

The Kitfo obviously is not for everyone — it is raw meat after all — but we enjoyed the smooth, flavorful melt-in-your-mouth dish. 

Kitfo can be ordered slightly cooked if you are a little less adventurous but still want to try it out. 

Nanyea’s serves breakfast all-day.

The menu includes scrambled eggs, kitfo tibs (sauteed minced beef); mashed fava bean and pieces of injera bread in berbere sauce and kibe. 

Breakfast items range from $6 to $12. 

The breakfast combo is $15. 

Nanya Café is Dayton's first Ethiopian restaurant in a number of years. Photo by Amelia
Photo: Photo: Amelia Robinson
Nanya's Cafe is Dayton's first Ethiopian restaurant in a number of years. Photo by Amelia Robinson
Photo: Amelia Robinson
Nanya Café is Dayton's first Ethiopian restaurant in a number of years. Photo by Amelia Robinson
Photo: Amelia Robinson
Nanya Café is Dayton's first Ethiopian restaurant in a number of years. Photo by Amelia Robinson
Photo: Photo by Amelia Robinson
Nanya Café is Dayton's first Ethiopian restaurant in a number of years. Photo by Amelia Robinson
Photo: Amelia Robinson
Nanya Café is Dayton's first Ethiopian restaurant in a number of years. Photo by Amelia Robinson
Photo: Amelia Robinson
Nanya Café is Dayton's first Ethiopian restaurant in a number of years. Photo by Amelia Robinson
Photo: Amelia Robinson
Nanya Café is Dayton's first Ethiopian restaurant in a number of years. Photo by Amelia Robinson
Photo: Photo by Amelia Robinson

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