On a recent visit to my native home of West Palm Beach, I reconnected with a friend I knew where I grew up, former New Yorker Stewart Bosley, who has since relocated here and is the owner/operator of Urban Growers Community Farm in West Palm Beach.
He introduced me to his favorite restaurant in town.
“The Queen of Sheeba,” Mr. Bosley said. “It’s Ethiopian and the food is great.” Afterwards he also introduced me to the chef, Lojo Washington, a native Ethiopian, and her co-owner-husband William Washington. He is a longtime area accountant and pastor of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in West Palm Beach.
Queen of Sheeba is in the heart of the historic Northwest neighborhood, located at 716 North Sapodilla Avenue.
Mrs. Washington, above, originally opened in 2006 as a soul food takeout spot that served everything from neck bones to black-eyed peas, chicken and fried fish.
“The community watched me build the restaurant up and were very supportive,” she said. “Now we’re like a family.”
As part of the soul food takeout, Mrs. Washington started a young people’s book club in the neighborhood. “I would like to do that again in the future,” said the soft-spoken Mrs. Washington with a smile.
Her husband is from Louisiana, where his mother, Mildred Washington, still resides. Her cooking inspired her daughter-in-law to open a restaurant using her recipes.
In 2014, Washington transformed the takeout into a sit-down Ethiopian restaurant, Queen of Sheeba. “I changed,” she explained, “because I was more familiar with my native food.”
Plant life hovers over the outdoor patio sheltering customers from the sun. The interior, lined with antique furniture, is a treasure trove of memorabilia.
The portions of food are more than enough—combinations of vegetables with fish, chicken or beef. The imported African tea and beer can’t be beat. And forget about the fork: Just use the injera bread to scoop everything up. Perfect.
Queen of Sheeba is open from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., then reopens from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays. It is closed on Sundays and Mondays. For more information, contact 561-514-0615, QueenofSheba1@gmail.com or click here to visit its website.
Ron Scott covers jazz music for The Amsterdam News in New York City in his weekly column, ‘Jazz Notes.’ Born in West Palm Beach, Mr. Scott was raised and lives in New York and is an award-winning writer, editor and publicity consultant. His byline has also appeared in the New York Times, Vogue magazine and the New York Daily News. To read his bio, click here and to contact him, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Oh. And why was he in town, anyway, you might ask? Taking a break after covering the International Havana Jazz Festival in Cuba.