It’s amazing to me just how many of my favorite meals are the consequence of haphazard circumstance. Such is the case with my recent trip to Desta, a popular Ethiopian restaurant located near the intersection of Briarcliff and Clairmont. While Desta has a much more vibrant following than a place like Celia’s [you’ve all been … right?], that fact alone did not make this trip any less of a surprise. Tasked with the role of choosing a restaurant for a follow up to the night’s earlier Linner, I managed to pull Desta out of thin air. Luckily, Ms. Vennerable [sic] is a fairly adventurous eater and an avid fan of all things Ethiopian.
There’s a reason why I haven’t talked a lot about the dozen or so Ethiopian eateries in and around the metro-Atlanta area. In my three or four experiences with the indigenous African fare, I have found the food to be passable at best (the word barftastic comes to mind). Mind you, not a single one of these meals has taken place in the last three-years and none of them at a location anywhere close to the state we all know as Georgia.
As with most every regional cuisine, there is a deep and rich history behind Ethiopian food. It’s one I am in no position to comment on. So not only have I had bad run-ins with it, but the situation is exacerbated by my ignorance. Still, I think this position actually works in our favor. While there is something to be said for my rantings that are backed by a more substantial knowledge base, there is something charming in my ignorance. If you’re still with me, it is a safe bet that when most people are asked to rattle off their favorite cuisines, Ethiopian is probably mentioned more in jest than as a serious response.
Off-color humor aside, I relished in the ability to walk into a place with little more than a cursory knowledge of the food and simply just taste. As luck would have it, the reputation behind Desta seems to be earned. Perhaps your experience will mimic mine.