Yesterday, a friend took another friend and I to the Queen of Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant (www.ethiopianrestauranttampa.com) in Tampa to celebrate our birthdays. Neither of us had been to the Queen of Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant, but the friend who took us had; she’d also had prior experiences with good Ethiopian food, so she knew we wouldn’t be disappointed in our first experience at the Queen of Sheba. We definitely weren’t.
The restaurant has been around for quite a while. I remember students at the university telling me I really needed to try it out, but for one reason or another, I never did. I’m glad I’ve finally had the chance. I encourage anyone who’s not already a fan, to go. It’s good food and a fun experience.
I was embarrassed to discover that I really didn’t know exactly where Ethiopia is! I knew, vaguely, that it was in Africa, but I thought it was actually on the Mediterranean–it’s not–and to the west of Libya–it’s not. Ethiopia is a landlocked country, bordered on the east by Somalia, on the west and north by the Sudan, and on the south by Kenya. So, it’s a lot farther south and east than I realized.
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If you would like some authoritative, detailed information about Ethiopia, I highly recommend the CIA World Factbook listing for Ethiopia. A stable government, itself, Ethiopia has, however, some unfortunate neighbors, Somalia, in particular, which makes travel along that border inadvisable for US citizens (see US State Department travel advisories for Ethiopia).
Other than the location of Ethiopia, the other big question in my mind was “Who was the Queen of Sheba?” The Queen of Sheba Restaurant’s website has an excellent page on her, and there’s even more on the Wikipedia Queen of Sheba page.
I did remember a few facts about Ethiopia: one–not really having anything to do with Ethiopia itself–being that the once Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, is regarded as a divine figure by the Jamaican Rastafarian religion (see Rastafarianism). The other being that Ethiopia is deeply entwined within the histories of both Judaism and Christianity. Confirmed by DNA analysis, scholars identified one of the lost tribes of Israel living in Ethiopia. 14,234 Falashas, Ethiopian Jews, were repatriated to Israel (see this detailed and fascinating account: www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/ejhist.html). Perhaps even more fascinating is that the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (formerly part of the Coptic Church but now having its own Patriarch), maintains that it is in possession of the Ark of the Covenant (see www.sacred-destinations.com/ethiopia/axum-ark-of-covenant.
But all that aside, it’s the food, obviously, that matters when it comes to a restaurant, and the Queen of Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant has the goods. Be sure to check out their website (www.ethiopianrestauranttampa.com) for beautiful photographs and descriptions of the food as well as descriptions of how the food is eaten (by hand using a small piece of spongy bread to grasp the food, although forks are available for the less adventuresome, and from shared small dishes in the center of the table, family style) and a list and description of dishes (which are quite varied and will satisfy both carnivores and vegetarians). We were there for lunch when they have an excellent buffet of the same dishes that are served on the family style platters. For a ton more pictures of Ethiopian food, see this Google Images link.
If, after eating at Tampa’s Queen of Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant, you’re interested in trying your own hand at making some Ethiopian food, here’s a couple recipe links: ethiopianrecipes.net and
Above all, don’t wait as long as I did to try the Queen of Sheba!
Queen of Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant, 3636 Henderson Blvd., Tampa, FL, phone: 813-872-6000, firstname.lastname@example.org
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