Doro Bet: Ethiopian Comfort Food for Everybody
Walking into Doro Bet is like a warm hug. Brightly colored decorations and maps adorn the walls. Funky music is playing in the background. The smell of fried chicken and spices lingers in the air. The owner and chef, Mebruka Kane, can be heard chatting with everyone who comes in. She catches up with the neighborhood regulars, and asks them about their day.
She also takes time to help first-time customers, like me, navigate the menu. She points to the menu written in green and white chalk, explaining each item. When talking about the signature fried chicken, she tells me that she was worried that customers from the Ethiopian community would be suspicious of the non-traditional approach to Ethiopian food. “I was curious to see how they would react,” she explains. “Most of the Ethiopian restaurants around here were established a long time ago so changing that was a little scary.” But now, she says that many people from her community come in to enjoy the fried chicken, as well as people who have never tried Ethiopian food before.
The fried chicken is truly unique. It is breaded with teff flour, an ancient grain that originated in Ethiopia. It gives the chicken a satisfying crunch, with a delightful texture that is different than the Southern-style fried chicken commonly eaten in the US. The traditional Ethiopian spices work well with the fried chicken, and add a subtle complexity to the dish. The chicken itself is juicy and stands on its own without the need for any sauces. But the addition of sauces is welcome, and the garlic aioli adds a pleasant richness to the dish.
The teff flour used in the chicken is naturally gluten free, and Chef Kane emphasizes that accessibility is a key value at Doro Bet. “We wanted to make it as inclusive as possible but also with great flavors,” she says. She also mentions that the restaurant is halal and has several vegan options.
Chef Kane recommended ordering the chicken with collard greens and mac and cheese, familiar sides for anyone who has had Southern-style fried chicken. Collard greens are also staples in Ethiopia, and this iteration was cooked to perfection and packed with flavor. The collard greens were my favorite part of the meal, and the slightly acidic flavor paired well with the fried chicken. The mac and cheese had the perfect amount of richness, and the bounciness of the noodles complemented the rest of the meal.
For those who want a more traditional meal, the restaurant also serves Doro Tibs, a stew with chicken and mixed vegetables. Like the other dishes, the spices add a complex and satisfying flavor. The onions and tomatoes bring a lot of depth to the stew and soak up the flavors. The stew is served with injera, a popular Ethiopian flat bread. The injera at Doro Bet has a pleasant, bouncy texture and functions as the perfect vessel for the stew.
Doro Bet is quickly becoming a gem of West Philadelphia. The atmosphere and food are unmatched, and their commitment to accessibility is truly inspiring. Chef Kane describes her restaurant “like being at home,” and the love and care she puts into her food feels like a home-cooked meal. Come to Doro Bet for delicious chicken and good vibes!
Doro Bet: 4533 Baltimore Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19143