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Get full flavor in a tidy package at this prominent Ethiopian restaurant

This kitfo wrap from Desta Ethiopian Kitchen includes ayib and peppers.
This kitfo wrap from Desta Ethiopian Kitchen includes ayib and peppers.

Credit: Henri Hollis

Credit: Henri Hollis

Dish of the Week: Kitfo wrap at Desta Ethiopian Kitchen

When a restaurant survives in Atlanta for nearly 15 years, it must be doing something right. Desta Ethiopian Kitchen, at the intersection of Briarcliff Road and Clairmont Road, has introduced countless locals to the vivid flavors of Ethiopian cooking. The restaurant’s injera bread, a staple of Ethiopian cuisine, is truly addictive: tender, spongy and tangy in a way that complements nearly anything.

Whether you’re a longtime fan of Desta looking for lunch on the go, or a newcomer to the restaurant’s East African delicacies, there is an appetizer that packs many of the menu’s best qualities into one tight package: the kitfo wrap.

The wrap is made by rolling kitfo, or chopped steak, into injera, which is then sliced. Kitfo often is referred to as Ethiopian steak tartare, and, while it’s traditionally eaten raw, Desta will cook it to your desired temperature. Unlike many other kitchens, if you specify that you’d like your steak rare, Desta actually serves it rare.

Their kitfo is seasoned with mitmita, a traditional Ethiopian spice blend, and spiced butter, and it’s chopped finely enough to ensure that it’s very tender, while still retaining some texture.

You can opt to add ayib, a simple cheese similar to cottage cheese or ricotta, which you definitely should do if you also add peppers. Lovers of spicy food probably will find the level of heat just right — present but not overwhelming. Those who have trouble with spiciness should skip the peppers, though.

All tightly rolled together into cute little pinwheels, the kitfo wrap checks quite a few boxes for fans of Ethiopian food — or, just good food in general. You get the tangy injera, wrapped around beautifully seasoned and perfectly cooked steak (though you also can opt for salmon), plus heat, if you want it, which can be balanced by a little of the cool, soft ayib.

Although it’s listed as an appetizer and only costs $7, the kitfo wrap makes a perfect grab-and-go lunch, especially with Desta’s well-designed drive-through window.

Desta Ethiopian Kitchen. 3086 Briarcliff Road NE, Atlanta. 404-492-0011, destaethiopiankitchen.com.

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