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 Cafe more than a year ago at 5214 N. Main Street in Harrison Twp., Montgomery County.
The former Sinclair Community College student says she’s already looking for a larger space near downtown Dayton.
Named for Sofi’s beloved grandma, Nanyea’s is next to the a hair braiding shop and a few doors from the former location of the Barnsider and more recently, Liquid Sports Club.
A portrait of Nanyea, who died four years ago, hangs on the wall.
Kinde said 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.
The restaurant is cozy and diners are encouraged to linger with pots of bitterly delicious Ethiopian coffee after meals.
Nanyea’s Cafe, 5214 N. Main Street in Harrison Twp., Montgomery County, is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Friday; 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.
Incense is burned during coffee and heightens the chill of the experience.
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.”
The restaurant only seats 25 people so large groups are asked to call ahead.
The aroma of berbere sauce (a chili pepper sauce ) and spices waffled out of the kitchen during our lunchtime visit.
For variety, we tried the $32 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 $10.
Vegetarian dishes are $6 to $8 each and range fromTegabino 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— , kibe and spices and served with cottage cheese and collard greens.
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 $22.