A sampler plate of all dishes, which can be a meal for two or three people, is served atop injera, a sourdough-risen flatbread with a slightly spongy texture, traditionally made out of teff flour. The gluten-free bread is used to scoop up and devour portions of each dish.
There’s also a selection of vegetarian dishes, including vegetable stew and red, green and yellow lentils.
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“Ethiopian food is known everywhere,” Tela said. “When you go to Cincinnati, (you see) it’s very, very popular food, so I was trying to introduce it to the community around here.”
A coffee ceremony includes the beverage roasted and boiled out in the dining area of the restaurant, serving six people three servings each. The traditional ceremony is accompanied by popcorn and bread.
Despite his love of the cuisine from his homeland, Eritrea, and neighboring country Ethiopia, Tela said it was important for him to keep cuisine from his new home front and center on the menu because “I wanted to give customers the option.”
Along those lines, Hamilton Diner offers something not made available to customers at Dean’s Grill: pork bacon, sausages and other pork-related products.
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Tela, who previously owned a Cincinnati-area grocery store, said he and Siyoum had looked to open a restaurant in Indiana but that rents there were too high. He said the Hamilton storefront offered a more affordable option and ample parking.
Hours are 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday and Monday.