Cafe Lalibela

Phoenix/Tempe Metro, Arizona

4.1 / 17 votes

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Tasty Ethiopian Food with terrific atmosphere.

If atmosphere is an important aspect for your dining experience, then you'll probably love Cafe Lalibela. Vegetarians and non-veggies flock to this place on a regular basis. Snuggled within the confines of a ramshackle, half-empty strip mall, Cafe Lalibela is revered and hailed by local vegetarians (and non-veggies) as one of the most fun and enjoyable dining experiences in the entire Phoenix metropolitan area.

Typical of Ethiopian restaurants, Cafe Lalibela has numerous vegetarian dishes that are eaten in conjunction with injera bread (instead of using silverware), placed on a single platter for all at a table to join in. (You simply tear off a piece of this crepe-like bread, and with it scoop up delicious morsels of food.) This, in part, is why Cafe Lalibela is considered one of the best places to take a first date: the sharing of delicious foods, and literally breaking bread together. (Click on the pictures to view a sample of how the food is served.)

Also, Cafe Lalibela proves that atmosphere is much more than fancy decor and glitz. Because what this tiny restaurant lacks in polish and shine, it more than makes up for with a usually crowded place of enthusiastic, happy, and (from the looks of them) satisfied diners.

And Café Lalibela now has gluten-free injera bread!

For vegetarians, Lalibela offers a number of dishes:
1.Azifah (Whole brown lentils blended with onion, green pepper and spices. Served cold.)
2.Fosolia (Lightly spiced string beans cooked with carrots and onion.)
3.Gomen (Chopped collard greens cooked with garlic and onion.)
4.Misir Wat (Red split lentils cooked with onion, berbere and herbs.)
5.Shiro Wat (Ground peas cooked with berbere and onion and seasoned with garlic and ginger.)
6.Tikil Gomen (Lightly spiced cabbage, carrots and potatoes.)
7.Yekik Alicha (Yellow split peas cooked with onion, turmeric and herbs.)

Each is available individually; or as part of small sampler (4 items) or a large sampler (10 items, with some repeats).

The lunch specials run from 11am-4pm, M-F and include 3 items above (served with injera bread) for just $7.95. (Regular price for one item is $4.95.)

Service can be first-rate, or slow (depending on the server), but is typically done with a smile. To-go orders, on the other hand, are consistently completed in just a few minutes.

Added by Steve Carlson on Aug 16 04 (last updated Jul 5 13)

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Most Recent Reviews

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This restaurant might be OK if you lived nearby and didn't spend a lot of time or gas to get there, but as an out-of-towner, I found Lalibela pretty mediocre.

Phoenix has so many great places to eat vegan food--Green and Pomegranate Cafe are among my favorite restaurants anywhere--and I was excited to try Cafe Lalibela based on the good reviews. However, Lalibela fell well short of expectations. My primary reference points are the many Ethiopian restaurants in Minneapolis, and Lalibela's food was underflavored by comparison. Also, the texture of the injera seemed particularly mushy, going beyond the expected sponginess.

I hate to give this restaurant such a low grade as the staff were friendly and helpful, and we didn't wait long to get our food. Would up the rating by a half-star for service if I could.

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This is a good place for vegans, though I am not always confident there is no butter in something I'm about to order and I double-check. It feels a bit pricier than other Ethiopian options in town, but sometimes this location near downtown Tempe is more convenient.

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I mile west of Mill Avenue on University, at the southeast corner of Hardy and University Dr.


Accepts Reservations

Wheelchair Accessible


$$ - average


  • MasterCard Visa


  • Ethiopian/Eritrean


  • Large Group-Friendly
  • Romantic


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11am - 9pm
11am - 10pm
noon - 9pm

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