The cradle of life is responsible for some of the most flavorful — and vegetarian-friendly — cuisine in the world. While Austin's African options are slim, they are absolutely delicious. Here are the best restaurants for authentic African cuisine in town, including three specializing in Ethiopian food.
Aster's Ethiopian Restaurant
An Austin tradition since 1991, Aster's is a family owned business near the University of Texas campus run by Aster Kassaye, her husband, and daughters. If you've never tried Ethiopian food, this is the place to go. Aster's lineup is authentic and delicious, with plenty of meat and veggie dishes depending on your preferences. Most of the creations are served on injera, a sourdough-like, spongy flatbread. Take advantage of lunch specials too.
Chef Iba Thiam weaves fresh ingredients with influences from West Africa, France, and Austin. Yassa chicken and vegan curry are among the staples, but you will also find unique fusion items like a Dakar lamb burger and all-day breakfast options. This food truck is now located at Radio Coffee & Beer in South Austin, so grab a beer to enjoy with your order.
The Flying Carpet
What started as a burger food truck is now a full-fledged restaurant on Oltorf Street. While the Flying Carpet has Mediterranean flair, the menu is distinctly Moroccan, ranging from unique burgers to hearty platters by husband-and-wife team Maria and Abderrahim Souktouri. Bonus: There are plenty of vegetarian options. (For more Mediterranean eats, check out our roundup.)
This family-run Ethiopian restaurant can be found in North Austin near the intersection of I-35 and U.S. 290. Like Aster's, Habesha utilizes injera in its dishes — feel free to dig in with your fingers. First-timers are encouraged to try the vegetarian platter, but there are also a wide variety of "meat lover" dishes to try. The lunch buffet is the best way to get your hands on several options. There is also a Sunday brunch. Ask your server about the Ethiopian beer and honey wine.
Taste of Ethiopia
This aptly named restaurant from owner Woinee Mariam and husband Solomon Hailu started in Pflugerville and opened a second location on South Congress Avenue near Ben White Boulevard. The menu features just as many veggie options as meat dishes. Entrees include stews and sandwiches, as well as more traditional dishes like siga tibbs, served on injera. Check out the vegetarian lunch buffet on weekdays. There's even a kid's menu!
Wasota African Cuisine
Wasota, previously known as the World Beat Cafe, is an east side food truck specializing in West African and Nigerian cuisine. There are separate vegan and meaty menus (goat, chicken, and beef), with a wide variety of traditional creations interspersed with fusion bites like sandwiches and burgers. Tasty jollof rice, benin sauce, and fried plantains make regular appearances. Come hungry, because the helpings are huge.