St. Yared Puts East African Cuisine on Indy’s Map

A shrine to Ethiopian food and history
The best advice St. Yared Ethiopian Cuisine and Coffeehaus owner Etenesh Abebe offers about ambasha, a puffy, focaccia-like bread, is to put the honey on first. That way the tangy East African cottage cheese ayib, a savory foil to the honey, will stay put while you snack on hunks of this traditional celebration pastry. It’s a subtle cultural suggestion—one of many Abebe had longed to share about the cuisine and customs of her native Ethiopia since moving to the United States with her husband, Haile, an Eli Lilly and Company employee, nearly two decades ago.

In autumn of 2013, Abebe got her chance, opening her own cozy restaurant in a strip mall near Geist that is as much a shrine to Ethiopian history as to its food. Fringed with earth-toned walls and scrolls recounting stories of Ethiopian orthodoxy, St. Yared offers a particularly fresh approach to the aromatic dishes of Abebe’s homeland. Favorites include Doro Wot, fiery chicken drumsticks marinated in lemon, and Ye-beg Wot, tender hunks of lamb with undertones of garlic and ginger. A fully stocked bar serving craft beer and a recently added breakfast menu with Caribbean salt fish—as well as plenty of omelets and waffles—make this a great spot both for Ethiopian-food fans and those who need Abebe to give them a few pointers. 11210 Fall Creek Rd., 317-363-4435,