Rahel Ethiopian Vegan Restaurant

2008 03 - Rahel Ethiopian 2Jane and I really love Ethiopian food. We first encountered it way back when we were dating. As much as we love it, we don't really get much of it. "Little Ethiopia" is a 20 minute drive from our home. (Like everything else in Los Angeles, regardless of how long it will actually take you to get there, your destination is always only 20 minutes away.) Which means it's only a weekend option for us.

Over the years, we've frequented a few of the restaurants in "Little Ethiopia," but we'd never noticed a 100% vegan restaurant. When we were omnivores, that would have never registered.

Anyway, Jane's been craving Ethiopian, so Sunday afternoon I googled vegan Ethiopian. Rahel Ethiopian is listed as the only 100% vegan Ethiopian restaurant in all of LA. Off we went. It was wonderful. The cuisine is made up of spicy vegetable dishes (meat dishes too, but not at Rahel), mostly in a thick stew format called wat. The wat is served atop injera, a large flatbread made out of fermented teff flour. Traditionally, Ethiopians eat with their right hands and use pieces of injera to pick up bites of entrées and side dishes. No utensils are used, which can make for an entertaining meal if you're the slightest bit clumsy. It's probably not your best choice for a first date, but as a long married couple, it can be a fun excursion!

We shared the Hudade Special Combo for two. And it was was excellent. The plate looked beautiful. There were two little piles of each of the items in the special, which makes sharing easy. We have no idea which was which, but they all tasted good. Something resembled tuna salad, and there was a tomato salad, which was a little awkward to pick up with the inerja, but mostly they were spicy, hearty stews. By the end of the meal, we were completely stuffed and were each wearing a little bit of our meal.

The service is slow, but friendly. Our time in the restaurant with no appetizers or dessert was over 75 minutes. So don't go if you're pressed for time. Otherwise... we can't recommend it highly enough. Jane's trying to get me to go back next weekend!

They're open 11am -11 pm every day. 1047 South Fairfax. 323-937-8401.

If you don't live around here, but do have access to this cuisine, we recommend you give it a try! And if you don't know where to find Ethiopian cuisine, we've got a few Restaurant Review sites on our Resources page which can be modified to search for type of cuisine. Go, try something new!


  1. I’ve never tried Ethiopian food, I had heard it was meat-intensive so avoided it. But this sounds fun…do you think it would be terribly insulting to eat left-handed? I can manage a fork right-handed if I have to, but that bread thing might be a problem.

  2. Hi Sue,
    If you were in Ethiopia and ate left handed, I think that would probably be an issue. Since you’d be trying it here, where our cultural norms are different, I cannot imagine it would be a problem.
    I recently used a left handed mouse, so I can relate. Wow it’s tough!
    If you’re really concerned, you could mention it to your server and see what s/he thinks.

  3. Wow! This sounds great. I love ethiopian food. Asheville is lacking any type of Ethiopian restaurant, let alone a vegan one. Too bad I don’t have a reason to go to LA. 🙂

  4. It was wonderful.
    But you don’t have to come all the way to LA. D.C. also has some pretty good Ethiopian… and it’s a lot closer to where you are. Plus you get to take in all those museums…

  5. Yeah I actually grew up outside of DC, so I have been to some of the Ethiopian places in the DC area. …not in a very long time though!

    I’m also very familiar with the Museums. My mom and step dad were actually model makers for the Smithsonian. My step made many of the little train, ship and airplane models. My mom made many of the mannequin’s and other objects found in the exhibits. In fact you can still see my step dad on the stage coach in the postal history museum. My mom and I also appeared as mannequins in exhibits that ended long ago.

    Speaking of Ethiopian Food and the Smithsonian , I believe there will be an exhibit about Selassie there soon. A quick google gave me this link:

  6. Oh man… this is one of my favorite restaurants in all of L.A! If only I had someone to take me on a romantic date there I’d be one happy camper!

    The food is so great and the portions so generous, and I love the big glowing neon VEGAN CUISINE sign in the window… so welcoming to a hungry vegan coming in out of the cold 🙂 I also love that they make tasty packaged version of their food to sell at some of the local markets. I’ve got a blog entry I’m planning to write soon about their delicious injera roll-ups.

    For what it’s worth, I’m a lefty and no one there batted an eye. These folks know they’re not in Ethiopia anymore so it’s not really an issue. I’m pretty sure they are more interested in making money and pleasing their customers than they are about wanting to enforce a culture from another time and place upon them. So dig in lefties and let yer freak flag fly!

  7. Hi FoodEater,

    Romantic date? Ours certainly wasn’t. We were continually laughing at each other — for dropping food on ourselves. I’m not sure the rest of the world would be as uncoordinated, but as we walked out of the restaurant, Jane had a big glob of orange on her bright pink shirt, and I had a few small drips of varying colors standing out on my clothing as well.
    Thankfully, we have tons of stain remover in the house!

  8. Hi June,
    Wow, how fun about your mom and step-dad actually doing work for the Smithsonian.
    (sorry I missed your comment, it was stuck in spam – I guess because of the link).
    Jane and I were at the Postal History exhibit about 9 years ago. We got one of those fake postcards for tourists. I wonder if she has it stashed away somewhere (I don’t know where anything is in our home).

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