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Monday, Oct 22, 2018 at 9:47 pm

Habiba Baru’s Ethiopian Kitchen

By Amber McElrath – Syracuse, N.Y. (CitrusTV) – The Syracuse restaurant scene expanded on Friday when it welcomed its first Ethiopian restaurant.

Habiba’s Ethiopian Kitchen is located on North Salina street and officially opened on Saturday at noon. The owner of Habiba’s is Habiba Boru, and her story is just as unique as her restaurant.

Boru learned to cook when she was seven years old from her mother. They were living in a refugee camp in Kenya at the time, and her mother ran a restaurant to provide for her family.

“My mother cooked for a living and to keep shelter over our heads,” Boru said. “I would always sit with her and watch everything she did and just learned from her.”

The restaurant her mother ran was named Habiba’s Hotel, and Boru named her own restaurant Habiba’s Ethiopian Kitchen as a tribute to her mother.

Boru moved to Syracuse by herself when she was only fourteen years old and said that the Syracuse community was always so welcoming as she tried to adapt to her new culture and surroundings. Once she started cooking for friends, Boru was encouraged to start a catering business.

On Friday, Boru took the next step by hosting a ribbon cutting for friends and family for her very own restaurant. The soft open even featured a speech from Ben Walsh, the Mayor of Syracuse, about Habiba’s contribution to the community.

“We know that this is Habiba’s passion and I couldn’t be happier for you that you have your own restaurant and, selfishly, that we have your restaurant,” Mayor Ben Walsh said prior to cutting the ribbon that officially opened Habiba’s Ethiopian Kitchen.

Before Habiba’s opened, lovers of Ethiopian food had to travel to Rochester to satisfy their taste buds. Having such a unique restaurant comes at a cost though. Boru needs to import her supplies from either Washington D.C. or Atlanta because of the lack of Ethiopian restaurants in central New York.

The menu features traditional Ethiopian dishes and has vegan and vegetarian options to satisfy a larger audience. Boru is cooking alongside her husband and they are serving dinner six days a week, in addition to breakfast and lunch on the weekends.

When Boru talked about her restaurant, she became emotional. The dream she has had since she was a young girl is finally coming true. Boru thanks her mother for everything that she has accomplished and hopes that she will be able to visit her restaurant one day.

“The fact that dream that my mom had and the dream that I had is coming true is just the most amazing thing,” Boru said before the ribbon cutting.

Habiba’s Ethiopian Kitchen is the newest restaurant in Syracuse, but the recipes that are being served have been passed down through generations.


Correction: Habiba’s Ethiopian Kitchen is not the first Ethiopian restaurant in Syracuse. Red Sea restaurant opened in 1990.