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Soretti's (formerly Coffee Oromia), Ethiopian on Old Columbia Pike in Burtonsville - Serving Teff Injera - Closed

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Just tried this relatively new place for lunch. Actually, I went in there for coffee and found it's the most poorly named restaurant in the world, because it's not just a coffee house; it has a full Ethiopian menu.

I got the lamb tibs just because I had them Sunday at Dukem and wanted a fresh comparison to what I think is the best. These stood up well to the urban competition. Smaller pieces of meat and not as spicy (heat wise) as Dukem but with great flavor. Lunch special for 8.50 was a good size serving of the tibs with 2 veggie sides, all neatly wrapped in injera for carryout.

I was more than satisfied, and am very happy to have found decent Ethiopian out in the burbs.


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I've been meaning to get back here since the name change, and finally went for lunch today. They have a bunch of lunch specials for 6.95--7 meat options and just as many veg options including a "pick 3" veggies. I went with chicken tibs, and it was excellent. Today it came with gomen (kale) and misir wot (mashed spicy lentils) and injera. I also had a chicken sambusa, which was much more delicate and interesting than I was expecting.

For 7 bucks (ok 8.50 with the sambusa) it was a filling and delicious lunch, and with the veggies it was probably better for me than most of the crap I tend to eat at the midday meal.

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Soretti's Ethiopian Cuisine has transformed itself into a nice, casual restaurant, and the Burtonsville spot has now begun to toss out the exotic items.

Years ago, this was a coffee shop. But now Soretti's has spruced up the art, added more tables, and hung curtains to soften the front windows. They're serving beer, including an Ethiopian variety, and even offering bread made from the authentic teff.

Teff is a grain, actually a grass native to Ethiopia. It's a gluten-free whole grain that people traditionally turn into the spongy injera bread that literally forms the basis for Ethiopian meals. People take meat or vegetarian stews and serve them on plate-sized discs of injera. You eat by tearing pieces of bread and scooping up stew. In most American restaurants, the injera is actually made from all or mostly wheat. Teff bread is more expensive and harder to make, but Soretti's has begun to offer the original for a $2 up-charge.

Give it a shot. I took advantage of the current lunch deal -- $8.50 for any dish except the meat combinations. I got a vegetarian combination, which meant five different stews and two pieces of injera. Two kinds of lentils, cabbage, greens and a spicy tomato salad. It's delicious food, and it was a deal even with $2 for the teff injera.

Teff injera is drier than the type that I'm used to eating. It is a bit darker. It is also less sour. I hold out hope that Mrs. HowChow will like it more. Injera has never been her thing -- thus why I go for the lunch special on a day when I was off work by myself. I feel like the teff was, ironically, less exotic and more like the flavor of a familiar bread. But let's be honest: It's a unique bread on its own.

I really can't suggest Sorretti's enough. The owner is extremely friendly, and the food is delicious. Definitely try the sambusas, which are a variation on the samosa, empanada, fried filled pastry. Two people should consider ordering a pair of combination plates -- one meat, one veg -- so that you can taste a variety. Or start simple with the beef or chicken tibs. This is a hole in the wall worth the drive one exit south of the county line.

If you're down on Rte 198, consider two other options for dessert -- homemade ice cream at Seibel's or tres leches cake at Cuba de Ayer. They're in the same stretch of Rte 198 just west of Rte 29.

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I had lunch at Soretti's today. Shared the 2 meat combos (#1 and #2) with juliusc91, which each came with 2 meats and 2 veggies. Highlights for me were both the chicken and beef tibs, as well as the cold chickpea salad and the red lentils. This is the second time that I've found the collards bland, but it dawned on me that I might not eat them alone but rather mix them into the chicken tibs, which was much better. We also asked for everything that had a choice to be spicy so the owner brought us a side of a "hot sauce" that we could also add if it still wasn't hot enough - it was really bright and fresh, almost like a salsa verde with a nice heat that snuck up at the end, but didn't linger too long. It really spruced up the otherwise bland chicken dish (doro alicha). Definitely ask for it if you like heat in your food. The owner seemed impressed that we used up most of it. B)

I really enjoyed our meal today. The last time I wasn't as impressed as I was today or had been on earlier visits and I'm still deciding whether it's knowing what to order or some inconsistency in the food. I'm thinking it's more learning what to order, or how to spice or mix up the less interesting dishes?

One thing to note is that they don't list lunch specials on their menu anymore, but when I looked at their website right now, it does advertise them for $8.95 excluding meat combos. It's possible we missed it, but I don't think so, so either you need to ask or their website is not up to date.

One last point, this place has the absolute best coffee in the area. I actually went there for lunch today simply because I was craving their coffee, and have been known to drive slightly out of my way on the way to work to get it. And like HowChow said, the owner is incredibly friendly and hospitable. It's definitely worth a visit. Next time I will be ordering the special injera made from teff. I stupidly thought we had that today but after reading HowChow's post, things came together in my head and I realize we needed to ask for it. Next time...

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Located in the strip of restaruants on Rt 198 at 15510 Old Columbia Pike, Burtonsville, Maryland.

I've only been a few times, always with my son who loves to eat. However, he has become a regular, stopping in on his way home from work on occasion. We have been often enough that when we ask for the Kitfo, thy know we mean properly, raw.

Prices are pretty good, but then all Ethiopian food is inexpensive compared to many other cusines. I especially recommend the platters for a way to taste a variety of dishes.

The last time we were there, they put together a special platter for the two of us with some of our favorites: The Soretti's Kitfo, Lamb Tibs, Doro Wot, Misir Wot, Cabbage and Potatos, Green Beans and carrots, and Shuro.

This is a small place, but the folks are nice and friendly, service is good, and it is as authentic as anything downtown.

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Soretti's does nice Ethiopian food, and I'd recommend anyone stop there for dinner in the casual restaurant.

But they have a pretty cool takeout option as well.  

Soretti's makes all kinds of delicious Ethiopian stews -- along with crisp fried sambusas.  And they now have a special "grab and go" menu where you can pick your favorites and some pieces of the spongy Ethiopian bread.

This is incredibly easy.  You just pick from 11 stews -- seven vegetarian for $4 each or three meat for $6 eat -- and add bread for $1 per disk (or $1.50 for the pure teff versions that are totally worth trying).  For each order, you get a plastic deli packet stuffed with the stew of your choice.

You can be in and out of Soretti's in minutes.  You can warm the stews in a microwave, and you can eat in the cool Ethiopian style -- one bread covering your plate, stews poured on top, then another bread torn into pieces to scoop up the stew.  You get rich flavorful dishes with huge options for healthy stuff and lean meats.

You can pick between spicy and mild.  You can serve a bunch of people for $20.  I picked up three stews -- a spicy chickpea, a mild lentils and a spicy beef -- and gorged for dinner and lunch the next day.  I splurged on four injeras, and two stayed spongy and fresh in a plastic bag.

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I stopped in here for lunch maybe 3 months ago.  The food was...okay.

Started with a lentil sambusa, which, I'm beginning to suspect, is just not my thing.  I've had them at a few different places, and I'm never very excited about it.  Not sure why I keep ordering them.  The version here seemed about the same as what I've had elsewhere (Zenebech, Ethiopic, Dukem), with a moderately crispy outside and an al dente, very mildly spiced lentil filling.

I followed up with the vegetarian sampler, and 2 of the dishes were disappointing.  The greens were quite mild in flavor, boring even.  I'm used to the green beans and carrots being served deeply carmelized, but these seemed like they had simply been steamed.  Also lacking in the flavor department.  The lentils and split peas were both pretty good.  I kicked myself after I left since I forgot to get the teff injera.

Could've been I hit an off day, especially since I was literally the only one in the place...maybe they were rushing things out that weren't quite ready.  I'll have to stop back in sometime again soon.  Has anyone tried out the kebab place right next door?

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