Get the combo ($12.50), which provides half-portions of two of the meat dishes. On the vegetable side of the menu, the combo will bring you sizable samplings of all the meatless dishes. These include spicy lentils (quite dal-like), garlicky collard greens, a vegetable stew (of carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, and cabbage in garlic sauce), and mushroom chunks in a thick brown sauce like the beef's. Everything is presented family-style on a large platter lined with a disk of injera, the spongy Ethiopian flatbread made from teff flour. (Teff is an Ethiopian grain with a pleasantly sour taste.) More injera is provided on the side for tearing into pieces and scooping up bites of the various stews.
One lesson to be drawn here is that Ethiopian cooking, like Indian cooking, tends to be vegetarian-friendly. Even carnivores could graze happily for a long while on a platter of the vegetable dishes. (One possible issue for hard-edged vegans: much of Ethiopian cooking is typically done in clarified butter.) Another lesson is that Waziema gives unusually good, I might even say exceptional, value. Prices are moderate, servings are not small, and the sense of bounty is enhanced by the festive heaping of everything onto a colorful platter that lands in the middle of the table like an edible flying saucer.
Divisadero between Castro and Geary remains one of the city's most vital and interesting restaurant rows. Although there has been some cautious infiltration by upscalers, the neighborhood still has a few days' growth of beard, and it still has a good supply of places like Club Waziema, where those with a few days' growth of beard are among friends and the matter of hunger is both an occasion for reflection and celebration.
Dinner: Mon.Sat., 610 p.m.
543 Divisadero, SF
Partly wheelchair accessible
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