LA-Vegas Pit Stop: Ribka Ethiopian Cuisine in Victorville
When I first saw Ribka Ethiopian Cuisine’s listing on Yelp, I was intrigued. Like many people making the Los Angeles to Las Vegas drive, I needed somewhere to stop for lunch, which, if you don’t want to settle for fast food, leaves you typically in either Victorville or Barstow. Both of the latter have quite a bit of Mexican food, which I do enjoy, but given my love of Ethiopian cooking, this was too interesting of an opportunity to pass up.
Ribka Ethiopian Cuisine is located in a little strip mall/industrial complex just off the 15 Freeway. It’s a comfortable, casual place, and while it’s not huge, it feels airy and more spacious than many of the holes in the walls in LA’s Little Ethiopia. It only opened a few months ago, and the folks who run it are super hospitable, going the extra mile to be accommodating.
My first visit was at lunch, and I went for the vegetarian combination, which is typically a great way to sample any Ethiopian restaurant’s food. Ribka’s version came with different varieties of lentils, beets, cabbage, collards, green beans and more (the blog’s featured image). Given that I had mentioned my familiarity with Ethiopian food, they offered me opportunities to try a few extra items, which was super nice of them and super delicious for me. Not only is it all very healthy (typically, Ethiopian vegetarian dishes are vegan), but the variety of colors make it gorgeous on the plate.
What’s that spongy stuff that comes with it? (Usually both under the veggies and/or meat and on the side.) It’s injera, which I’d liken to a sour pancake. It’s made from teff flour, an ancient grain that is better for you than the standard white flour. At Ribka Ethiopian Cuisine, the friendly woman who served me told me that they use a little oatmeal in their version, which I thought was interesting. It certainly worked. In any case, the idea is that you rip off a little bit of injera and then use it, pincer-like (spongy side facing the food), to grab your food. That’s right–no utensils. If you’re eating with friends, you all eat off the same communal dish, taking turns diving in with your injera. So make sure those hands are clean!
Ethiopian coffee is known all over the world for its strength and flavor. I’m not a coffee drinker, but they very nicely offered me a sample. I indulged, and I have to say, I rather liked it. It certainly wasn’t a bad thing to be a bit caffeinated before I continued on my way to Las Vegas.
On my way back from Vegas two days later, I had to decide whether to try to make it all the way home to LA for dinner, or to stop on the way. I enjoyed Ribka Ethiopian Cuisine so much the first time that I decided to make a dinner stop there. This time, I went for the lamb tibs (think something between a lamb stew and a saute, with onions and peppers), along with some of the greatest vegetable hits from before. Again, Ribka for the win. And I also got the pleasure of assisting a nearby couple with their first Ethiopian dining experience–admittedly, something I love to do.
All in all, the quality at Ribka Ethiopian Cuisine is comparable to the good Ethiopian restaurants in Los Angeles and Phoenix that I’ve tried, with only a restaurant like LA’s iconic Meals by Genet being out of reach. So if you need a meal break on the 15 and don’t want to compromise on food quality, Ribka won’t lead you astray. And if you actually live in the Victorville area, this could become one of your regular haunts.
Ribka Ethiopian Cuisine
15441 Anacapa Road
Victorville, CA 92392