Makeda cuisine is Eugene’s first (and only) destination for Ethiopian and Eritrean food. Inspired to introduce the public to Ethiopian and Eritrean culture and food, Paolos and Eden, who prefer their last names unpublished, opened Makeda’s Cuisine on October 25. If you haven’t heard of this truck before, even though it’s been open for a few months now, I don’t blame you – I accidentally stumbled over it during my search. Black owned restaurant, and no one I asked had ever heard of it.
To open a business in the midst of this pandemic recession with, according to Eden, “no advertising other than word of mouth” and with only standard online business information is a very risky textbook definition from the start for a restaurant. However, Makeda has somehow overcome the odds over the past four months.
Simple white truck parked at 725 Olive St. serving Ethiopian and Eritrean food. Eden said the two countries were “basically the same food”. The main seasoning that is widely used in this dish is berere, which is in most of the dishes. Berbere makeda consists of turmeric, cumin, cardamom, and pink sea salt, but berbere can also include other spices such as chilies, coriander, garlic, and fenugreek.
If you enjoy Addis Ethiopian in Springfield (which closes on February 26), you will have a wonderful surprise from Makeda’s. The menu has meat, vegetarian and vegan options, with weekly specials available on a rotating basis. All entrees are served with injera, a spongy, sour, fermented flatbread that the couple makes themselves. Injera is made from teff flour, so it’s gluten-free, says Eden.
Classic menu items on their small menu include beef tibs and doro wot. “Tibs” refers to sautéed cuts of meat. Makeda beef is a sirloin top steak with caramelized onions, seasoned with berries plus other seasonings, while doro wot is boiled chicken seasoned with Ethiopian butter, berries and other spices.
You can order spicy or non-spicy beef tibs, but if you can handle it spicy, I highly recommend getting the spicy one. The heat that accompanies the berbere seasoning is not the kind of spice that immediately burns your mouth, but it slowly grows while imparting another flavor in the spice mixture as it subsides. Plus injera serves as a container to absorb the sauce and a source of temporary relief after eating all the spices.
Past specials include Ethiopian burgers, pastas, gomen (Ethiopian style collard greens) and chicken tibs to give people something new to try every time. Chopped chicken, a rotating specialty dish, is very similar to finished beef, depending on availability, both are good options.
Regular items on the Makeda menu include temtumo, a vegetarian dish with red lentils and caramelized shallots seasoned with berries, and alicha, a vegan dish with cabbage, potatoes, carrots, olive oil and chilies. Both are available as individual dishes or as a combo, which is half a portion of each served together.
Temtumo has a stronger presence than alicha, and the consistency is similar to thick pulp. The alicha is thicker, comparatively speaking, with large chunks of potatoes and carrots on top of injera.
One of the best dishes on their menu is the crispy sambusas, a triangular dough wrap filled with red lentils, black pepper, onions and garlic. The crunchiness that accompanies the soft and savory stuffing inside is satisfying as well as delicious – plus, because it doesn’t have too much spice, it gives your appetite a break.
Overall, all quite good for value, portion, and taste, especially if you enjoy heavy spices or are looking for something texturally more interesting to try. Makeda’s is now the only Ethiopian restaurant in the area.
True heart and joy is present in Eden and Paolos when it comes to their food and interacting with their customers. As second generation Ethiopians, the two of them were taught everything they made by their mother, and their love for food was genuine inspiration for wanting to run a restaurant. After trying to open a restaurant for the past five years, they finally embodied last year’s Makeda, and it’s a very appreciated addition to Eugene’s food scene.
If you’re looking for a high-quality lunch that you probably haven’t eaten much of, I suggest you head over to Makeda’s Cuisine – you can definitely taste why they’re still kicking in.