Blue Nile Ethiopian Cuisine, Harrisonburg, VA

181 N Main Street
Harrisonburg, VA 22802

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Blue Nile Ethiopian Cuisine

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Monday - Friday 8am - 12am Saturday - Sunday 9am - 1am

by Danielle Bussone

Blue Nile is an Ethiopian restaurant/music club located on Main Street in Harrisonburg, VA. When I called to find out when they were open the noise blaring in the background made it nearly impossible to hear the answers to my questions. Since I was never able to get concrete information, I will do the best I can to enlighten you by sharing my experience and observations. It’s quite possible I’m just making this stuff up. There are two floors to the Blue Nile. The downstairs has a full bar and a dance floor with live music every night and dance parties on Friday and Saturday from 7pm – 2am daily. I don’t know if the phone was answered from this floor when I called or if the music was so loud it overwhelmed the second floor as well. The waitress wasn’t very helpful in answering my questions, though it was quiet when we dined there.

We stopped in for an early dinner and it was relatively empty at that time. The noise level was normal, no blaring bands in the background but the downstairs was not yet opened for business. We ordered traditional Ethiopian food which is comprised of Injera, a spongy Ethiopian sour pancake made from an African grain called Teff. On the top are little piles of food which you can order as an individual dish, each vegetarian entree is $9 or as a combination platter. We ordered the combination vegetable platter for two. ($30) This comes with two pieces of extra injera and a sample of most of their entrees.

Ethiopian food is not served with utensils, it is eaten by hand. You tear off a piece of the injera, fold it over some of the dollops of food, pinch it together between your fingers and pop it into your mouth. If you don’t care for Injera, you may order rice instead. The food is mostly comprised of bean and lentil stews,called Wat, with different vegetables and spices. They also serve a collard greens dish, a cabbage and tomato dish and a potato, green beans and carrot dish. These are all a part of traditional Ethiopian fare.

Ethiopians tend to overcook their stews, in my opinion, though many Ethiopian restaurants in the US are moving away from this habit as they are learning to preserve the nutrients by less cooking. Blue Nile tends to go the traditional route and you may find the stews a bit mushy if you are not accustomed to them. They are very flavorful and we enjoyed our platter, though I would have liked a bit more texture.

They served a peanut butter soup which was divine. ($4 cup, $6 bowl) I would not like to count the calories in this soup, though whatever the cost to your waistline, it was worth it. It was served with a himbasha, an Ethiopian leavened bread flavored with honey, fenugreek, thyme, cinnamon and cardamom. It was delicious.

A lunch buffet is served between 11am and 2pm for $6.99 on Sun-Mon and $8.99 from Tues-Sat. You may also order a vegetarian lunch combo for $7  which includes Misir Wat (Red split lentils stewed with onions, garlic, ginger and Berbere spice), Atkilt Alicha (Potatoes, green beans, carrots and onions cooked with ginger, garlic and turmeric) and Tofu Keye Wat (Tofu stewed with tomatoes, onions, garlic ginger and Berbere)

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  1. M. SHealy

    Why did they close? It was my favorite restaurant. The food was better than any other Ethiopian restaurant I have been too..

    • Danielle Bussone

      Yes, unfortunately they did close. It was a heartbreaker. Also, a wonderful Ethiopian restaurant in Charleston, SC closed. I am so sad that people don’t realize what wonderful food this is.

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