Ermias Hailab

Nile Ethiopian Restaurant

Ermias Hailab (photo by Rob Bartlett)
Ermias Hailab (photo by Rob Bartlett)

In our opinion, there are a few things that a city must possess in order to be great, and one of those requirements is a good Ethiopian joint. Orlando’s ethnic dining scene is healthy, but Nile is our lone Ethiopian restaurant – we give thanks for it often, and we steer friends who find themselves in the tourist zone to Nile just as frequently.

“There are no utensils used in Ethiopian food,” says chef-owner Ermias “Muka” Hailab. “All of our diners use their hands, and this is probably the most fun and unusual part of the experience.” But the magic isn’t in the intensely spiced stews served on a communal platter and the sour-spongy injera bread you use to scoop them up; it’s not in the tej (honey wine similar to mead) and the coffee brewed in a long-necked clay pot; it’s in the way the whole experience brings you together with your friends. Hailab says, “We want our diners to have an Ethiopian experience. From the variety of dishes to the cultural music playing in the background to the authentic coffee ceremony, we want our diners to take a little piece of Ethiopia home with them.”

7048 International Drive, 407-354-0026; $$