Around the World in Houston: Discover Ethiopia & East Africa

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Houston African Arts Festival | Photo courtesy of Houston African Community International, USA - HACIUSA

With a labyrinth of cultures represented in every nook and cranny of town, Houston is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in America. To celebrate this world-class melting pot, we’ll be exploring a new region of the globe through a Houston lens each week, from annual festivals and museums to restaurants and cultural experiences. Join the journey with our Around the World in Houston series.

The Eastern region of Africa includes countries like Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Rwanada, Uganda and more. From art galleries and festivals to restaurant’s serving up stellar Ethiopian fare, here’s how to explore the region’s vast flavors and traditions.

Annual Festivals & Cultural Events

  • Houston African Arts Festival Enriching African cultural life in Houston, this annual festival showcases emerging and establish artists, offering the best of local and international African music, dance, theatre, visual arts, fashion shows, poetry, comedy, film, African design, foods and more. Follow along on Facebook for updates.
  • Pan-African Cultural Festival 2018 – This annual festival celebrates African culture through arts and crafts, food and drink, drumming and musical performances, and more.

Museums & Cultural Organizations

  • Arts of Africa at MFAH The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston hosts diverse artworks from the continent of Africa from 500 BC to the present, with masks, sculptures, headdresses, textiles, and objects from a variety of regions, cultures, and countries.
  • The Gite Gallery This charming two-story gallery features beautiful and unique art and artifacts—including original paintings, hand-carved wooden statues, bronze sculptures, tribal masks and hats, brightly colored textiles and more—all from sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Houston African Community International This cultural organization and African Community Center offers programs, community outreach and networking opportunities for Africans in the Greater Houston area. The group’s annual African Festival of Arts promotes African-based cultures.
  • Houston AFRIFEST Join thousands of locals from the Houston area in celebrating the diverse cultures that span the continent of Africa though arts, music, dance, food, and fashion.
  • African Fashion Week Houston African Fashion Week Houston offers a series of multicultural events, with the goal to bridge the gap in cultural diversity by bringing together and presenting fashion, culture, entertainment, the arts, and business development.

East African Food & Drink

Restaurants

  • Blue Nile Serving the community since 1994, this westside restaurant (which hosts a second location in River Oaks) serves up authentic Ethiopian fare. Use traditional injera bread, a soft spongy pancake made out of teff flour, to scoop up a variety of stews, meats, and salads, from yebeg key wot (lamb stew) and fried fish to chicken tibs and kitfo (Ethiopian beef tartare).
  • Lucy Ethiopian Restaurant and LoungeYou’ll find specialties like sambusa (lentil or beef stuffed pastries), yedoro watt (chicken curry pot), whole fried tilapia, and goden tibs (short rib) at this Ethiopian standby.
  • Nazareth Café Open Tuesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, this Ethiopian Café offers injera, wat, tibs, and kifto.
  • Sheger Ethiopian Restaurant Sip Ethiopian honey wine while you enjoy signature dishes such as the “Kitfo Special”, “Tikul Kitfo” and “Tibes,” kissed by a blend of international spices.

Grocery Stores

  • G&J African MarketThis Northwest Houston market offers authentic African products and ingredients, from spices and seasonings to African movies and music.
  • Onola Imports Hit this African food and grocery store to find African spices, fresh and frozen meat and produce, flours and grains, and African clothing and beauty products.
  • Wazobia African Market & Kitchen Just off Westheimer near George Bush Park, this African grocery store plays home to hard-to-score, authentic products that are staples in Africa. Shop for condiments, spices, meats and seafood, fresh produce, grains, snacks and more.

Language Classes, Education Centers, Groups & Meet-Ups

  • Berlitz This language learning center offers flexible programs for adults and children, with languages from Amharic to Swahili.
  • Houston African Professionals Meetup Join this private meetup group to network and socialize with other African professionals in the metro Houston area.
  • Houstons’ Professional Ethiopians Group This private Facebook group is dedicated to enhancing interaction among professionals, aspiring professionals, and students of Ethiopian origin in the Houston area.
  • Kenyans in Houston Join this Facebook group to connect with Houston’s Kenyan community.
  • Somali Bantu Community of Greater Houston This community group is dedicated to the education and acclimation of refugees and immigrants in the Greater Houston area.
  • University of Houston Students of East Africa This University of Houston group connects East African, offering cultural, social, educational, and volunteer opportunities.
  • Young African Professionals Houston This nonprofit group strives to foster a community of young African professionals, encouraging community participation, networking, professional development, and other interests.
  • Relished Africa Explore traditional Rwandese cooking that will transport you to the heart of Africa by taking a cooking class from this local cooking school, with classes offered on Saturdays in the Heights.

Other Notables

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Brooke Viggiano is a food and lifestyle writer residing in Houston. When she's not contributing to publications like 365 Things to Do in Houston, Thrillist Houston and the Houston Press, she's on the hunt for the coolest happenings in the city. You can follow her musings on Twitter @BrookeViggiano .