Enjoy Extraordinary Injera At Ibex Ethiopian Kitchen, Jacksonville, FL

Ibex Ethiopian Kitchen
5111-2 Baymeadows Rd
Jacksonville, Florida 32256
(904) 551-0403

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by Danielle Bussone

En-route to Tampa Bay, Florida, for their annual Vegfest, Rich and I stopped at a lovely little restaurant in Jacksonville to sample Ethiopian cuisine. Since I am in the midst of writing an Ethiopian cookbook, I’ve made it my business to try Ethiopian food in cities across the country, comparing and contrasting the different dishes, the methods of preparation and, of course, the variations in the Injera flatbread. After many hours on the road, Ibex Ethiopian Kitchen was an especially welcome treat.

 

Ibex owner Tsione

 

A little over 15 months ago, at the prompting of her best friend, Tsione (pronounced Tzani) Chiksemo moved to Jacksonville where she opened up Ibex Ethiopian Kitchen. Rich and I  arrived after the lunch rush and we were greeted at the door by Tsione personally and we were joined shortly by her fiance Teddy Aboye.  Ibex is named after a type of goat. Go figure, we never figured out exactly how this fits into the picture, but there you have it.

Ibex Exterior

 

A table of four was busily finishing off their meal. The members of the group were Ethiopian, distinguished by characteristically high foreheads and delicate features. It’s always a good sign to find native diners at any restaurant of a specific ethnicity, and this was no exception.

The dining area is open and casual with paneled walls and several televisions spaced strategically throughout. A combination of booths with wooden tables hugged one wall while several tables seating four occupied the center of the dining room. Along another wall is a bar for singles as well as a couple of two-seater bistro tables.

 

Ibex Interior

 

Ibex Interior1

 

Ordering was easy. On the first page of the menu, all the vegetarian (vegan, in fact) options are listed. Dinech  (potatoes and carrots simmered with garlic and onion), Tomatim Fitfit (a salad of tomatoes, injera, green peppers, and onions tossed in a lemony dressing), Miser Wot (spicy red lentils), Tikel gomen (a mild stew of cabbage and carrots cooked with garlic and ginger) and Aterkik Alitcha (mild yellow split peas cooked with onion and garlic). Each dish is $9.95 or you can get the Ibex Vegetarian platter for $12.95 per person. The vegetarian platter contained numerous other dishes which may or may not appear on the menu, such as Fasolia (a mild dish of green beans, onions and peppers), Shiro (a spicy puree of chickpeas) and Gomen (collard greens).

 

Ibex Veg Special

 

You won’t find vegetables smothered in spices at Ibex. Understated is the name of the game here. In the mild dishes, the veggies are sauteed to perfection in onion and garlic, along with a little peanut oil, so that the flavor of the individual vegetable shines, not the spice. This was a surprising and refreshing change from our accustomed Ethiopian fare.

The spicy dishes, prepared with the essential Ethiopian spice blend, Berbere, were the traditional foods we have come to know and love and were as good as we’ve experienced anywhere. Especially noteworthy is the quality of Ibex’s Injera, that wonderfully spongy, sourdough flatbread ubiquitous in Ethiopian kitchens worldwide. This is some of the very best Injera we have had to date and we know of only one restaurant in all our travels that can rival it. It is delicate and light while maintaining its consistency.

The Fit-fit was also a bit unusual. At first appearance, it looks like a mound of crumbled injera but one taste puts that notion immediately to rest. It is saturated in a purée of lemon, tomato and jalapeño peppers and the combination of flavors were out of this world. It is far and away the best Fitfit we’ve tasted anywhere.

 

Ibex Vegan Menu

Ibex Vegan Menu

 

For our purposes, we’ll disregard the children’s and the dessert menus, since they are not vegan-friendly. However, you should know they are available for your carnivorous companions.

If you are a lover of Ethiopian cuisine and find yourself in the Jacksonville area, be sure to stop by Ibex Ethiopian Kitchen for a meal that will delight you. If you have no experience with Ethiopian food, prepare to fall in love.

 

Co-founder and editor of Veggin’ Out and About, Danielle writes restaurant reviews, profiles and interviews of people making a difference in the plant-based community. She is author of, “Time For Change: Whole Foods For Whole Health,” released January 1, 2015.

Danielle’s region is SW Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina and anywhere she happens to stop for sustenance along the road. Contact Danielle directly to share your restaurant finds, to make comments or just to say hello.

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