Queen of Sheba

Portland, Oregon


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rating star

I love Ethiopian food and I eat it often. Initially Queen of Sheba got my hopes up, as the menu lists some unusual options for vegans: a dish with mushrooms, and another dish with flax seeds. I've been to a few dozen different Ethiopian places and have never seen mushrooms or flax seeds anywhere else.

As such, I thought this place would be special. It was not.

Despite my misgivings, we ordered a veggie combo platter to share amongst four people ($23). I hate the veggie combo platter. It's a bad deal that every Ethiopian joint runs to charge you more money for less food. What's that, you say? You want to try every dish and the combo platter is the only way? Forget trying every dish. At the end of the day, it'll all be variations on lentils, split peas or potatoes, either in mild sauce or spicy berbere sauce. Some of the dishes won't even have sauce: they'll just be stewed collard greens and carrots. You're not missing out on anything.

My suggestion: NEVER order the combo platter. Order one mild dish (the split peas) and order one spicy dish (the lentils in berbere sauce or the potatoes in berbere sauce). You'll get much more food for less money. And you won't have to put up with the boring dishes that nobody wants to eat after they realize the ones with sauce are much tastier.

Anyway, rant over. The food was really disappointing. I'm not sure what was wrong. None of the dishes felt fresh, and they were all lukewarm in temperature. Most of the veggie combo platter consisted of bland dishes and, as you could imagine, the spicy, relatively flavorful ones got lapped up right away.

The injera was heavy and overly sour. This was low-grade injera, to be sure.

The mushroom dish and flax seed dish that caught my attention online turned out to be complete duds.

Also, I'm not sure that Queen of Sheba understands the term "vegan" (though it uses the word on its menu freely), as I'm pretty certain one of the dishes was made with yogurt or buttermilk (ingredients not commonly used in Ethiopian food, but some regions of Ethiopia do incorporate some dairy into their dishes). It was a weird brown gloopy thing that everyone hated (and two of my group are not even vegetarian).

Also, the service was mixed at best. Our waitress was pretty surly (though also amusing at times) and not very attentive or fast.

For instance, we wanted an extra plate so that each half of the table could have easy access to the injera. Otherwise, one half of the table had to keep asking the other half to pass the injera. Our waitress initially rejected our request for an extra plate (note, we were just asking for a plate, not for more injera), claiming that's not Ethiopian custom. It's Ethiopian custom to make it difficult for people to eat, by forcing them to reach across tables for bread? Only after some persistence did she relent and give us the plate.

All told, Queen of Sheba was a massive disappointment.

Image for Ramona

rating star

We read lots of reviews online before deciding to go to Queen of Sheba. The reviews were excellent. We were very excited about going there. Although the server and the cook were very nice to still serve us food in spite of the fact that we got there at 9PM (we didn't know that they stop serving food then), the visit was a huge disappointment. The food was not yummy at all. I never had Ethiopian food that I didn't like, but I guess there is a always a first. In spite of paying lots of money -- $22 -- for the big veg sampler and being excited about Ethiopian food, I had to force myself to eat the food, and in the end, I had to take some home because I just couldn't eat much. All the dishes were spicy, which I'm not used to. But that was not the only problem; the food had almost no flavor! All the dishes on the our platter -- lots of them -- tasted similar. The flavor that is usually the highlight of Ethiopian food was missing!! The injira was not as fluffy and good as usual either. I was very sad.

I decided to still enter it in the VegGuide because it does offer a lot of vegan dishes and it does have a lot of excellent reviews on other sites. So, maybe I just had a bad experience and someone else will enter a good review. But I would not want to pay $22 again.

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