The Region's Finest Ethiopian Food, Cafe Colucci In Oakland

The Bay Area's finest Ethiopian food

There are dozens of Ethiopian and Eritrean restaurants in the Bay Area, yet Oakland's Café Colucci has always been in a category of its own.

Let's begin with the fundamental, the Ethiopian sourdough flatbread injera. If the injera you've had in the past was off-white or yellow, you've been duped: Café Colucci is one of the few restaurants in the region to use the traditional grain teff in its injera. The result has a deep flavor and a russet hue.

Now that your foundation is set, choose from more than 30 dishes on the fold-out menu. For the simplest option, order the vegetable ($12 at dinner) or meat combination plates ($13 at dinner), replete with a collection of carefully spiced legumes, slow-cooked shredded collards, and chicken, beef or lamb stews.

But we recommend venturing into less familiar territory. In begue alicha fitfit, lamb ($12 at dinner) is swathed in turmeric, ginger and onion and tossed with scraggly chunks of injera. Rich and smooth like hummus, telba fitfit is a robust purée of flaxseeds and tomato.

Then there's the intrepid eater's destination, kitfo. Café Colucci's mammoth portion envelops silky beef tartare speckled with diced jalapeño and swathed in cardamom-laced butter.

Try finding such a nuanced version elsewhere.

Café Colucci, 6427 Telegraph Ave., Oakland; 510-601-7999 or