Tex-Ethiopian Barbecue- Must Try Ethiopian Cuisine

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The combination of this African spice and a thoroughly Texan dessert is just one small example of the joyous adventure of a meal that can be eaten at what is probably the world’s only Tex-Ethiopian smokehouse.

Owners Patrick and Fasicka Hicks, from Waco and Addis Ababa, respectively, don’t know of another Ethiopian restaurant that has rolled Texas barbecue into its menu, or vice versa,

They didn’t set out to expand Texas barbecue horizons when they opened Smoke’N Ash BBQ as a barbecue-only joint in 2018.

Patrick met Fasicka in 1997, a year after she emigrated from Ethiopia to Arlington. She was working the register at a Diamond Shamrock station and he asked for her number; they’ve been together ever since. They had two kids, and Fasicka cooked the Ethiopian dishes she’d learned from her mother for her own family. Patrick had a day job, but he had grown up watching his family run two now-closed barbecue joints in Waco and Dallas, and always wanted to carry on the tradition. The couple opened a weekend barbecue truck in 2012, and six years later they went all in on a permanent location in Arlington.

In 2019, Fasicka was looking for a new challenge in the Smoke’N Ash kitchen. “I got bored,” she explained, so she looked to her own roots for inspiration. She suggested to Patrick that they add an Ethiopian menu. Patrick admits he was a little worried at first: “We spent a lot of money on the Ethiopian part, and it wasn’t producing.” But now he has no regrets.

The couple thought serving traditional Ethiopian dishes to their barbecue clientele would be confusing, so they decided to treat it as a separate restaurant that just happened to share an address with their barbecue joint. They called it Cherkose Ethiopian Cuisine, after the neighborhood in Addis Ababa where Fasicka grew up and her late mother’s maiden name.

Both Texas barbecue and Ethiopian food are best enjoyed with your hands rather than utensils. Napkins make that possible with barbecue, but Ethiopians use injera, a spongy, flat sourdough bread, to scoop up every bite. At Smoke’N Ash the large Tex-Ethiopian barbecue platters are served on a circular tray lined with injera to soak up all the sauces. More injera is rolled up on the side for tearing and scooping the saucy meats, stews, and vegetables. Fasicka makes her own injera with teff flour imported from Ethiopia.

The food here is both brand-new and rooted in the family’s history, and that includes its history in Texas. On Friday and Saturday, Patrick serves fried rib tips inspired by his many visits to Mitch’s Corner Stop in Waco. Patrick uses the same battering and frying technique as Mitch’s, but the batter is seasoned with berbere spice before and after frying. The preparation sends a classic Texas dish into a new dimension of flavor and smokiness.

source:texas monthly