Ethiopian Cuisine in Richmond, VA: Nile Restaurant

Last week David and I were up in Virginia, visiting friends and family before moving into our new home in Atlanta.  While we were in Richmond, we discovered The Nile Restaurant,  an amazing, delicious and 100% gluten-free restaurant.

Thanks to our friends, Lee and Nancy, who were inspired by a recent episode of Top Chef that involved Ethiopian cuisine, for finding this great Richmond spot.  They decided to look for an Ethiopian restaurant in Richmond and stumbled upon The Nile Restaurant, which also happens to be 100% gluten-free.  I kid you not: every dish in the place is gluten-free, even the bread (yes, bread!) that you use to pick up your food.  That’s right, no silverware needed in this restaurant.

eth sign

The ‘injera’ bread is made with teff flour, making it light and spongy.  The bread is basically used as your utensil so you grab your food with the injera.  So delicious!  Warning: Not all Ethiopian restaurants are entirely GF.  Our server informed us that a lot of restaurants use part teff flour and part regular flour in their bread, as a means of cutting costs because the teff is expensive.  This makes it not ok for us celiacs.

Delicious injera bread (100% teff flour)

Delicious injera bread (100% teff flour)

When people ask me what I miss most now that I’m gluten-free, they usually expect me to say cake or pizza, but that’s not my response.  Honestly, I can make all of those items, and I make them pretty darn well.  For me, the thing I miss the most from my ‘gluten’ days is sharing experiences with people.  At wedding receptions, birthday parties, and events, I usually have to bring my own food.  At restaurants I can never ‘just have a bite’ of someone else’s dish because I don’t know what’s in it or it might be contaminated.  The Nile was a lovely break from my celiac-imposed dining restraints and I could dig in with the rest of my group.

At Nile, they serve the food communally, and I could enjoy and partake with everyone else.  I didn’t have to worry about contaminated utensils. (Oh wait, there were no utensils!)  No separate plates for me.  We all enjoyed every bite of our meal.  I think this might be one of the best dinners I’ve eaten all summer.

Buticha Roll (garbanzo bean paste appetizer)

Buticha Roll (garbanzo bean paste appetizer)

Ayib Tikl (spicy cheese roll app)

Ayib Tikl (spicy cheese roll app)

We had no idea what we were doing since it was our first Ethiopian experience but the waiter was so friendly and helpful when it came to guiding us in our choices.  We went with a couple of appetizers, two ‘Nile Special Combination Plates’ (where you get a little bit of everything), and one entrée.  Everything was phenomenal.  We were all very satisfied at the end of the meal.  It was a lot of food but I felt refreshed and energized at the end, not overloaded.

The main event, the special combo plate...so good

The main event, the special combo plate...so good

Our main dishes came out on one large communal plate.  The photos do not do the meal justice.  It was amazing.  Take my word for it and if you’re in Richmond, check it out for yourself.

I highly recommend Nile, regardless of whether or not you are gluten-free.  There are many options and all of their veggie dishes and injera bread are vegan friendly too!  Next time I’m in Richmond, I’ll definitely be back.

Does anyone know of any other 100% gluten-free restaurants?

meal 2

The Nile Restaurant – 309 N. Laurel St. – Richmond, VA 23220 – (between Broad & Grace St) 804-225-5544

  1. Randy says:

    I lived in Ethiopia for 2 years, even met my wife there who is Ethiopian. The Nile Restaurant has the BEST ijnera (Ethiopian sponge type bread) authentic injera is hard to find! I have been to several Ethiopian restaurants in Washington DC and their injera has nothing on The Nile Restaurants. This is where we will be eating Ethiopian meals from now on when we are not making it ourselves.

  2. Betsy says:

    Oh, good! I loved The Nile. Glad to hear it’s authentic.

  3. Lucy says:

    Little late here, any chance you have found a GF Ethiopian heaven in Atlanta? All the reviews for places I am finding say the teff flour is cut with wheat flour…

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