At first glance, Ethiopian food might seem adventurous to most Americans born and bred on hot dogs,  hamburgers and chicken nuggets, but once you get over the absence of eating utensils Ethiopian food is really pretty good! Queen of Sheba on Henderson Blvd. in South Tampa is one of those really unique authentic restaraunts in town. Queen of Sheba is celebrating its 4th anniversary of being open on November 11th and 12th with live music and dance. If you’re the kind of eater who’s not put off by food being a little different from what you’ve come to expect, Queen of Sheba is a great little place and November 11th and 12th will be a good time to experience Ethiopian food for the first time. Or if you’ve visited before, come back and enjoy the festivities and the food once again.

While the menu is full of what might at first seem like exotic dishes, what you get is a mix of standard ingredients like meats and veggies in different combinations and preparedness. Ethiopian food is also very vegetarian and vegan friendly. Yes there are plenty of meat dishes, but there is also a large assortment of dishes without meat. I’ve been going to Queen of Sheba since its inception and have sampled a variety of their dishes and personally the dishes without meat are my favorites.  So whether you are whether you are looking for vegetarian food in Tampa or an ethnic experience, Queen of Sheba is a great local restaurant.

The most interesting and possibly troubling to the new diner is that you eat the food with only your hands in the traditional manner. Or more succinctly, you tear up the requisite spongy bread served with every dish and dip, grab and pluck into the food with the bread and put it into your mouth. It’s really not as uncouth as it might sound to someone raised on forks and spoons. While the price of the dishes range between $10 and $35, you can get pair or group style servings which can help defray the costs and give rise to sharing and sampling!

I’ll be honest the portions aren’t as generous as they used to be, but eating every bite with the unique yummy spongy bread fills you up quick. I guess the terrible economy has caused a few cut backs in certain areas and that can be understood in my opinion and it’s still plenty of food for your money. Owner Bele, though, is always generous with her time to talk with the customers, tell you about the restaurant, her life in Ethiopia, etc. She’s about as nice and beautiful as a person can be. I enjoy talking to her every time I go to Queen of Sheba.