DECATUR, Ga. — Her own restaurant is a dream realized for Beza Elala.
“I never in my life thought one day I’d own my own restaurant,” Elala, of Mela Ethiopian Kitchen, told At the Table ATL. “To have your own, it means a lot.”
Mela, which means ‘solutions’ in Ethiopian,’ features a variety of healthy and Ethiopian dishes.
“We have awaze tibs … it’s actually beef sautéed with onions and tomatoes,” she said. “It has special spice on it, which is called berbere … which is a little bit hot, but that’s what makes it special.”
The awaze tibs is served alongside injera, Ethiopian flatbread.
“We use hands. This is our fork. And this right here is our bread,” Elala said.
"How does this dish represent Ethiopia?"
“It’s one of our special dishes,” Elala said. “Growing up back home, we eat spicy stuff. So this is one of my favorite dishes my grandmother used to make…since I was a little girl, she used to sit me down next to her, and you learn everything she makes.”
“How does this dish represent Atlanta?”
Helping represent Ethiopian cuisine in metro Atlanta is especially meaningful for Elala.
“I want people to know about it, learn about it, and I’m always willing to explain it,” she said. “It means a lot to me that I’m representing my country, where I come from … it means everything.”
At the Table is a digital series produced by 11Alive's Matt Pearl and Liza Lucas. Metro Atlanta features the food of dozens of nations. We want to eat through them all! Follow us on Facebook and share your favorite food stories.