Derae Restaurant in Memphis locks its doors by 6 p.m. If it’s dinner you’re after, you best make it an early one. Affable owner Mohammed Omer loves pointing newcomers toward his favorite Ethiopian dishes—like the spicy, garlicky chicken-and-rice number pictured below. Mohammed’s wife, Zenub Abdurhaman, heads up the kitchen; she makes a mean roast goat, traditional breakfast fuul, and a hearty vegetarian platter with holey, sour injera. When dining in, take a few minutes to chat with Omer about his hometown of Dire Dawa, the fourth most populous city in Ethiopia. He’ll show you photos of street scenes, play you Facebook videos of recent student protests, and school you with a five-minute history lesson on the politics of the tribally divided nation. Guaranteed, you’ll leave as enlightened as you are full.
923 S. Highland St., Memphis, TN; 901-552-3992.