Mesob in Montclair is one of my favorite restaurants, and it’s well loved by local vegans. Not only do they have an extensive meatless menu, but they’re sensitive to the needs to vegans and they cook their vegetable dishes in dedicated vegans pots. I usually take out-of-town visitors to Mesob to impress them with delicious Ethiopian food they probably won’t be able to get back home, and because it’s always it fun to eat with your hands.
Mesob’s meat-free options range from vegetables like mushrooms, potatoes and green beans to beans such chickpeas, lentils and split peas, But these aren’t ordinary just vegetables and beans – they’re made with sauces and spices that are delicious to the point of almost being magical, because they’re so difficult to recreate at home. (Trust me, I’ve tried!) Everything’s so good that it’s difficult to chose what I eat, but luckily they have a vegetarian sampler where you get 6 dishes of your own choice, which is what my friend Karyn and I did when we recently had lunch together. My favorites are Ingudai Tibs which is marinated portobello mushrooms sautéed with onions, garlic, tomatoes and jalapeno peppers; and Buticha which is an incredible chickpea dish that must be eaten to be understand, because it’s too unique for words. Karyn and I also ordered Gomen (collard greens), Atkilt Aletcha (green beans and carrots), Kik Aletcha (yellow split peas), and Azifa (lentil salad).
Communal eating, as shown in an earlier HFTK video, is encouraged at Mesob, and food is served on a large platter covered in injera, which is fermented flat bread made from teff. Extra injera is served on the side and used to eat the meal with. You simply tear a little piece off, pinch food between it and pop it in your mouth! Mesob’s injera does contain some wheat and is therefore not gluten-free, but rice is available for those who have wheat and gluten sensitivities.
Vegan dessert options include sesame halewa, gluten-free oatmeal cookies and a dark chocolate sampler. Being the chocoholics that we are, Karyn and I split the chocolates, which are just as pretty as they are delicious. These tiny confections are infused with herbs and spices and one of them even tastes of East African tea. And speaking of tea, Karyn and I also had mugs of Kemem Shai, a tea made with ginger, cardamom, cloves along with black tea leaves. The perfect ending to a perfect meal!
Mesob is located at 515 Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair.