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Vegan Ethiopian Food in Paris: Godjo

July 30, 2010

I think Ethiopian food is up there with Thai food as my all-time favorite cuisine–it’s like spicy, mushy, mysterious comfort food. (I say “mysterious” because I have absolutely no idea how to make it myself.) Now, I spent many years getting spoiled by an entirely vegan Ethiopian restaurant in Michigan that can really knock your socks off and, unfortunately, I now find a lot of Ethiopian food to be a little bit of a let-down. Not that big of a let down, of course, but it’s rarely quite as good as the lovely food at Little Africa (in my opinion, which probably shouldn’t count for too much). However, there is a fantastic Ethiopian place, Godjo, in the Latin Quarter which I think is definitely worth glowing about.

Since I love Ethiopian food so much, and since Godjo is a little more expensive than most of the places we go to, this has become one of those places where I insist on going if I’ve met my dissertation goals for the week. I should erect a sign on my desk, “Will work for injera.”

Ethiopian food, if you can find it, is often a good bet if you’re looking for a vegetarian or vegan meal. You may need to occasionally watch out for cheese (or in many parts of Europe, fish) on the vegetarian plates, but asking for an Ethiopian vegetarian platter without cheese and fish will usually either be 1) totally unnecessary or 2) like asking for a sandwich without a parsley garnish–you get so many dishes on an Ethiopian plate, that asking them to withhold one really won’t make a big difference. And what you really want is that delicious, spicy red lentil stuff anyway.

Of the two Ethiopian places I’ve been to in Paris so far, Godjo is hands-down the best. The vegetarian platter is always changing, so you’ll get something a little different almost every time you go there. And their food is amazing.

In case you’ve never had Ethiopian food before: it’s usually eaten communally at a table, not with cutlery but with a sponge-y sourdough-like bread called injera, which you tear off and use to dredge up all of the different stews on the giant plate.

If you go to Godjo, what you’ll want to do is just order a platter. They have a menu listing all of their stews separately, which is confusing, but just say that you would like a vegetarian platter for the number of people at your table, and explain what you would like or not like in it. So, we often will specify that we don’t want fish or cheese (which usually generates a “well, duh” look from our server–I think they almost never serve those things), and when we went with Graham’s adviser he insisted on avocados. The servers are always very friendly and accommodating, even when getting these sorts of requests. What you will get, typically, are several different kinds of lentil stews, each of which will taste very different from all the others, a lemon-y salad with beets, beautifully flavored chopped spinach, a potato-carrot-cabbage stew, and a separate plate with a mound of lovely injera.

Godjo has Ethiopian beer, wine, spice tea, coffee, and mint tea, all of which are very good and reasonably priced (especially the beer!). They also have some colorful apertifs, if you can handle them.

A few cautionary notes:

-Godjo is very close to the Pantheon, and is quite popular with students (even in the summer, it seems); around 9pm/21:00 it can really start to fill up. This has never been a problem for me, since I’m a typical American early-eater (I eat at around 7:30pm or 8pm). Since Godjo opens at 7pm, it’s very easy to get a table–even for a large group–if you’re willing to eat that early.

-Arrive hungry; you will get a great deal of food. (The plate pictured above with a 2-foot diameter is for two people.)

-Be prepared to pay about 20 euros per person, or more if you start ordering multiple drinks.

If you’re looking for a place to get a drink before your Godjo dinner, there’s a pleasant student bar just down the street on the Rue Descartes, which has the very distinctive name Le Petit Cafe. During their happy hour, which goes from about 5pm/17:00 until 7:30pm/19:30, you can get fairly inexpensive beer as well as a fantastic, reasonably priced mojito (3.80, I believe). So, you can sip on your cheap mojito while you listen to the Slits and dream of future Ethiopian food–all of which you’ve earned after working so hard on that dissertation, right?

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Mary Bosch permalink
    August 3, 2010 6:31 pm

    Right! This is the very least you deserve!

  2. Kiki permalink
    August 14, 2010 1:52 am

    I love Ethiopian food!

  3. Emma permalink
    April 30, 2011 10:47 am

    I have to say, I went to Godjo last night based on this rave review and left hungry and disappointed. After a little investigating, I was informed by our server (who talked it over with the cook), that it is impossible to get any of the vegetarian dishes, which would be featured in the vegetarian platter, without butter. They all, every one of them, have it, and one can’t ask for it to be left out because they are made beforehand.
    I like your blog and the idea of having a vegan guide to paris, but there is literally not a single thing for vegans at Godjo, and should therefore not be advertised as vegan-friendly.

    • April 30, 2011 12:49 pm

      Boy, that’s disappointing to hear. I had asked the server about dairy in the food, but it appears that butter doesn’t count as dairy over here. It’s also too bad because, in my opinion, it really is the best vegetarian food in the city (and would be *so easy* to make vegan). As much as I love Paris, it really has a long way to go in terms of its vegan food–but I thought Godjo was an exception.

      If you’re looking for a place to get dinner in the same general vicinity, I recently heard about another place called Tugalik, which is also alleged to be vegan-friendly. I haven’t tried it yet, since it’s expensive (more so than Godjo), and it’s yet another veg-friendly place that bills itself as super healthy (and usually when they do that, that means that they make food that I could easily make myself for a sixth of the price). But it may be worth a shot.


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