An Ethiopian welcome to Footscray

Kokeb Restaurant & Cafe, 247 Barkly Street, Footscray. Phone: 9689 0157
Snowtree, 119 Hopkins St, Footscray


Eliza was one of the many lovely and talented people with whom I worked at the Geelong Advertister.

IIRC, she left not too long after I did … to pursue a gig practising the black arts of PR on St Kilda Road.

As is so often the case these days, we both sort-of followed our respective journeys from Facebook, where – among other things – I monitor with interest the comings and goings of my extended family of media industry brothers and sisters.

That all changed a few weeks back when I received a wonderful tweet from Eliza:

“Hi Kenny, how are you? Am moving to Footscray tomorrow – will need to keep a closer eye on your blog!”


My reply was immediate:

“Hi Eliza! Wow that’s great! Will you have dindins with me and Bennie?”

We took our chat into private channels and – bingo! – here we are just a few weeks later having a swell dinner with Eliza and her partner, Josh.


Kokeb joined the ranks of Footscray’s Ethiopian eateries a few months ago.

It’s a charming space and we are equally charmed by the service offered us by Helen and the music – on a Tuesday night! – of Melaku.

The menu has all the Ethiopian regulars covered, with a few more interesting items.

But we do away with all that – in the interests of easing “catching up” conversation – by going for the $22 a head banquet.

Eliza has us all laughing with stories of how her PR gig came unstuck and we quickly and in some depth swap notes on how we’re both faring these days, she as online editor and social media honcho … back at the Addy.

It’s a great role for her, I reckon.

But Bennie and I are just as delighted to have she and Josh as new neighbours, and excited to introduce them – for the first time – to the delights of Ethiopian food and injera.

They take to them with gusto – and so they should, as the Kobeb banquet spread is top-notch.

All is fresh, hot and tasty.


We get two kinds of lamb tibs – the regular “white” and the more spicy and red “Kokeb” tibs. Both very good.

There’s the chopped greens of gomen wot and the delicious and chunky carrot, cabbage and potato of cabbage wot.

And, of course, lentils a couple of ways.

Best of all, though, is the shiro, which is served separately from an earthenware pot.

It’s a hot, spicy split pea soup/stew flavoured with berbere.

There’s plenty of food for our admission fee, and we even take Helen up on her offer to top up our supplies of the vegetable dishes and injera.

Some of the cool, crisp contrast usually offered by the presence of tangily-dressed lettuce, cucumber and tomato would have been a bonus.

As our meal and the eating of it wind down, Bennie gets a case of the restless – so we send him off on the daunting challenge of finding us somewhere that is doing dessert relatively late at night and relatively early in the week in Footscray central.


So we all troop off to the Korean joint Snowtree.


To my surprise, they’re still serving what look like pretty acceptable Korean dinners – so maybe this is somewhere to take note of as being (maybe) open when all else is closed hereabouts.

But we make to do with a couple of serves of their “Snowtree Belgium waffle” ($7.50).

The waffles are just OK and the cream, I’m almost certain, comes from a can; but all is wolfed down anyway – including all the fruit and the frozen yogurt.

Welcome to the ‘hood, Eliza and Josh, and – yes – we’ll be making the housewarming!






6 thoughts on “An Ethiopian welcome to Footscray

  1. How fantastic that Kokeb is growing! Received the council notices today for kerbside and courtyard dining. With this sort of quality, reliable Ethiopian food around the corner I couldn’t be happier to live in the ‘scray!


  2. I was bopping around Footscray the other day shooting photos of restos that had none on Urbanspoon. I was surprised at how many more Ethiopian joints there were in town now, compared to when I first made ventures out that way in search of Ethiopifood circa 2007-8. And it was a hotbed of East Africanity in the West even then. Seems like the number has tripled during the past five years, and moved onto different streets than the old standbys on Barkly. Thanks for the reviews like this one. I plan to get on my bike (literally) and pedal back over someday soon, and you’ve helped narrow the field so I’m not just dining at random.


    • Mainstream media loves catchy,exotic headlines for example..look the Ethiopian restaurants that gets lots attention ,its konjo cafe because wife of the owner is FRENCH haha the other Ethiopian restaurant is cafe lalibela because its THE OLDEST AFRICAN RESTAURANT…yet there is another 15 African restaurants in same area including the highest rated of all African restaurants in Melbourne ras dashen,all overshadowed by these catchy,fantasy words lol.. I love konjo and cafe lalibela but media paints as if only two Africa restaurant exist in footscray.. Glad kokeb gets its fair share of hype..


  3. i have sociology background,and its interesting to note many black restaurant in melbourne are becoming mainstream as african restaurant figured out the key to mainstream which is “make spoon & fork available” the most well know indian dish is rice and curry because its probably the only indian dish that spoon can be used haha something as simple as spoon and fork can influence if restaurant can be mainstream or not! one african owner of restaurant told me,5 years ago most non african customers were people who look african food as adventurous,different,exotic,first timers ,but today we gave them spoon and fork and let them decide how they want eat it,if u go to ras dashen u will notice africans prefer the the whole curry on plate and then use hands,while non africans prefer to use spoon in one hand and take small vegie/curry little by little and put on the injera on the other haha and every one feels comfortable the way they eat and most importantly enjoy the food!..


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