Famished after a hike up the hills of Bernal Heights, an inner neighborhood of San Francisco, California, I proceeded to hike down Cortland Avenue looking for some vegan, gluten-free fare. Even though it was in fact San Francisco, every restaurant told me they didn’t have vegan or if they did have vegetarian, it wasn’t gluten-free or if it was the latter, it wasn’t vegetarian. You get the idea, YET, in San Francisco?
Hungry and dejected, I plodded on homeward, when my eye caught “Ethiopian” on a sign above my head. Ever a fan, I walked into a small 6-stand mini-mall of epicurean delights, and headed for east Africa.
Eji (pronounced EEjee) of Eji’s Ethiopian greeted us with a warm smile and without a word about my dietary restrictions, said her shop is 100% vegan and gluten-free. I thought if this doesn’t work out, she could definitely have a career as a psychic. However, she should keep her day job, because the food was delicious. Spongy injera bread she was quick to point out was 100% teff flour (some Ethiopian restaurants use a combo of teff and wheat) held together well and taste-wise was no different from any teff alloys I had eaten previously. And it mopped up each entree with fiendish delight.
The stir-fried cabbage seasoned with turmeric, garlic and ginger was pungent with a hint of sweet; the misir wot (spicy lentil stew) packed quite a bit of heat, the alicha wot (split yellow pea) was mild but filling, and a squash puree – a mix of acorn, butternut and pumpkin (something not on the menu yet) – was a wonderful combo of sweet and savory all in itself. How wonderful it was to find vegan, gluten-free fare in one of my favorite cuisines. This is comfort food that anyone – vegheads and Celiacs alike – can devour without guilt.
There’s no seating here (save a small bench outside), so this is meant for takeaway, however you can get it delivered through Good Eggs. Eji’s has only been open a little over a month, so ambiance there is a work in progress. What would add a nice spice to the walls would be photos or art from Ethiopia, frames for the pictures she currently has for the entrees, and a printed menu for takeout.
331 Cortland Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94110