Photo by Yelp user John K.
When first walking into an ethnic restaurant, the first thing that you should notice is the atmosphere. Thankfully, for Lucy Ethiopian on Grant and Amherst St., though the restaurant is quite small in size, the atmosphere is so positive and unique. I instantly felt as if I was in a real eatery in Ethiopia.
Before my experience, I had no idea what Ethiopian cuisine would be like, let alone what Lucy would be able to provide for my first experience.
Upon noticing there were no Ethiopian restaurants in the City of Good Neighbors, Abba Biya and Nama Tesfu opened Lucy Ethiopian in 2012. The name derives from the legendary Lucy skeleton found in Afar Depression.
Co-owner, Manager and Head Cook Abba Biya said everything on the menu is made with 100% natural and fresh food.
“We like to eat fresh ourselves, and we also like to provide that for our customers,” he said, adding “if you are having something frozen, it’s not going to be the same.”
This makes the food seem just as similar as if it were taken right from an Ethiopian backyard. Because of this need for fresh products, the lentils, beans, peas and various meats all taste very pure, yet also vastly flavorful due to the perfect amount of authentic spices.
Though the delicious taste of the food is enough to keep you coming back, Biya says that one of the biggest appeals that brings customers in is how healthy all of their cuisine is.
Not only does the menu mostly consist of vegetarian dishes, but the food is also gluten-free. Everything made in Lucy is made with little to no additives and takes as much time is necessary for it to be served at its best.
For example, in order to make their fluffy and delectable injera bread, it takes an astonishing three days to prepare it. The bread comes wonderfully high in nutrients like iron and calcium.
Yet when it comes to defining the perfect Ethiopian dish, Biya believes that Ethiopian food is not represented by just one meal, but is represented by the fact that Ethiopians normally do not eat one simple dish when they sit down for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Rather, they explore the various flavors that can be contributed to food and make a simple product like lamb or lentils taste like a completely different kind of food in the best way possible and to just about anyone’s liking. This is a good reason why, for first-time guests at their restaurant, the staff recommends getting the Lucy Combo, a group dish with a vast variety of foods prepared and grouped together and made as flavorful and spicy as the customers prefer, making it one of the most definitively Ethiopian dishes the restaurant has to offer.
According to Biya, an experienced Ethiopian cook who started out in his brother’s restaurant in Toronto, one of the best parts of introducing so many people to Ethiopian cuisine is getting to tell them how everything is made, adding that “If you know something is good, like a recipe, you share it. It is for you, not for me.”
Since everything at the restaurant, from their lentils to their chai tea, tastes amazingly fresh, it seems that the most important ingredient in the food at Lucy’s is time. Not only the short time the food should be eaten in so it can be experienced in its most pure and fresh form, but also the time that goes into preparing the most traditional dishes the authentic way so that the customers can experience the food like the staff does back in their home country.
All of these ingredients make Lucy Ethiopian Restaurant one of the most dedicated, hard-working, and absolutely fantastic ethnic restaurants in all of Buffalo.
Lucy Ethiopian Restaurant is open Tuesday-Saturday 11am to 10pm, Sunday 12-8pm. They are located 388 Amherst Street in Buffalo and will soon be adding an additional location on 916 Tonawanda St.