by Susan Marquez
Tucked into a corner of the first floor of the Capitol Towers Building in downtown Jackson, an unassuming little restaurant, Shiro Ethiopian Restaurant, caters to a busy lunch crowd.
It’s not unusual to hear people greet the manager, Mame’ Wube by name and order “the usual.” Wube not only manages the tiny restaurant, but she runs the front counter and cooks the food.
“I have someone who comes in each morning to do the prep for me,” she says. “Otherwise, it’s just me!”
The food served at Shiro – Ethiopian – is different from anything else in Jackson.
Sam Tilahun – who moved to Jackson via Washington DC – opened the restaurant in April 2019 out of his love for his home country’s cuisine. Tilahun met restauranteur Yoseph Ali, the owner of Aladdin Meditteranean Grill, and discussed his desire to open a restaurant that served healthy food from Ethiopia. Ali partnered with Tilahun to open Shiro.
Open five days a week for breakfast and lunch, the cafe serves up traditional Ethiopian fare, cafeteria-style. The food is approachable and delicious.
Start with lentils, chickpeas or split peas, all perfectly seasoned. Vegetarian diners have plenty of choices of vegetables, including braised cabbage, roasted beets and savory turnip greens. For meat-eaters, add sauteed lamb, chicken or beef, all tender and flavorful. The restaurant also offers savory sauteed tofu.
Meals can be served with yellow saffron rice if you plan to eat with a fork. The traditional way to eat Ethiopian food is with your hands, using injera, a spongy bread made from fermented “teff,” a grain unique to the country. Tear off a piece and scoop up the food for a mouthful of intense flavor. A build-your-own salad bar is available as well.
Breakfast includes made-to-order crepes and eggs, along with delicacies such as ful medames, a savory Middle Eastern and African dish featuring slow-cooked fava beans. All breakfast dishes can be made without eggs or dairy if desired.
The real star is the coffee, imported from Ethiopia. From espresso to lattes, the coffee is rich and delicious.
Small, with seating only for 16 people, there is no outdoor dining here. Their take-out business is brisk, with folks who work in nearby offices making Shiro a regular choice for breakfast or lunch.
Shiro is located at 125 S Congress Street, Suite 106. Reach them at (769) 572-4555.