Skip to Content
$20 Dinner

Emeye Ethiopian Cuisine’s Exceptional Food Is Your Perfect Park Meal This Summer

You can find Ferehiwot Sheffield's delicious injera at the Queens Night Market, Smorgasburg in Prospect Park, and the Vegan Night Market in Columbus Circle.

Sega wat and vegetables on teff injera, $19. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

I've been eating Ferehiwot Sheffield's sega wat for almost two years now, ever since we first met in the fall of 2022 at her Emeye Ethiopian Cuisine tent at the Queens Night Market. It was love at first bite between me and the mound of incredibly rich, complex, and legit spicy beef stew that Sheffield serves with vegetables atop a semicircle of spongy injera.

It's an incredible plate of food. I've had the sega wat at Emeye at least three times since then, but only recently did Sheffield school me on exactly why her version of this dish, which is as common in her native city of Addis Ababa as, say, cheeseburgers are here, is so unusually delicious—and distinct from any other you're likely to find in New York City.   

Sheffield preparing my delicious plate of sega wat. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

"When I moved here in 2012, first in Red Hook and now in Sunnyside, it was so hard for me to find, not Ethiopian food in general because there's a lot of that, but real injera," Sheffield told Hell Gate. "In Ethiopia, injera is made only with teff, which is a grain. We don't mix it with anything. It's healthier and it's gluten-free. If you mix it with wheat flour, which is what most restaurants here do, it's more like eating bread. With only teff flour, it just tastes better. It tastes like home."  

Sheffield told me it took her about seven years to master making her teff-only injera in New York City—something about the water here just makes it really difficult, she said—but as far as I'm concerned, speaking as someone who delights in tearing off chunks of the stuff to scoop up mouthfuls of meat, it was worth the effort.  

Mango and avocado spris, $13. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

The other secret to Emeye's exceptional wat (there's a vegan version too, misir wat, made with red lentils), was easier for Sheffield to come by—she just had to ask her mom. "In Ethiopia, every family has their own recipe for berbere, which is our chili powder. It takes more than 12 spices to make, and my mom is very, very famous back home for her berbere. She puts a lot of love into it. That's why the wat tastes so good." 

She serves her great teff injera and the lovely spicy stew (beef or lentil) with three scoops of different vegetable dishes, which change depending on what Sheffield feels like cooking. Last Sunday in Prospect Park at Emeye's Smorgasburg stand, that meant creamy yellow split peas; a bright, chunky beetroot salad; and a crunchy slaw made with cabbage and carrots. 

Mitmita fries, $8; lentil sambusa with jalapeño dip, two for $10; mango and avocado spris, $13. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

The Emeye summer menu has some snacky things on it as well, including first-rate, flaky sambusas stuffed with well-seasoned black lentils and accompanied by a fiery jalapeño dip, and a boatload of thick fries dusted with an Ethiopian spice blend called mitmita. Definitely squirt a bunch of Sheffield's homemade spicy mayo all over these babies. There's also some Ethiopian-style beverages debuting this season, including a honey drink called birz, and spris, a super-thick, smoothie-ish cup of mango and avocado.

As far as vibes go, all three of Emeye's locations from now through the fall—Saturdays at the Queens Night Market, Sundays at Smorgasburg, and the first Tuesday of the month at the Vegan Night Market in Columbus Circle—are in or near parks, so you're basically here for a picnic.

Smorgasburg vibes. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

Sheffield hopes these stands are just the start of the Emeye story. "My goal is to open a restaurant somewhere, hopefully in Sunnyside. We're working on it. This is just to introduce ourselves, and get our name out there. We put our hearts into this. My friends tell me I cook for Emeye like I cook for my home. And it's not about the business, really. I didn't start Emeye to own something. I wanted people to experience Ethiopian culture and Ethiopian food. You see people eat this, and they are so happy." 

Emeye Ethiopian Cuisine can be found on Saturdays starting at 4 p.m. at the Queens Night Market, on Sundays starting at 11 a.m. at Smorgasburg in Prospect Park, and on the first Tuesday every month starting at 2 p.m. at the Vegan Night Market in Columbus Circle. 

Already a user?Log in

Thanks for reading!

Give us your email address to keep reading two more articles for free

See all subscription options

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Hell Gate

As Change to Broker Fees Looms, Real Estate Agents Are Suddenly Concerned That the Rent Is Too High

At a rally to oppose the FARE Act, REBNY and real estate agents expressed a newfound concern about rising rents and the lives of tenants.

New York State Lawmakers Once Again Fail to Pass Meaningful Climate Legislation

While Governor Hochul's last-minute congestion pricing "pause" had a lot to do with it, there's plenty of blame to go around.

We’re So Back: East Village Dollar Slice Joint Is Back to Selling 99 Cent Slices

Owner Sana Ullah said that cratering demand at the elevated price point motivated him to bring it back down.

See all posts