Inside Dahlak Paradise: The story of West Philly’s famed Eri-Ethiopian eatery turned nightspot

A City Island Music party at Dahlak | Photo by Tavi and John Clark | | courtesy of the artist

For years, the Cedar Park neighborhood of West Philadelphia has been an eclectic and progressive area. Holistic cafes, independent bookstores, grocery co-ops, and international eateries have been a mainstay on the Baltimore Avenue strip. Being that Cedar Park is only a hop, skip, and a jump from The University of Pennsylvania, in recent years, gentrification has taken a hefty bite out of the neighborhood. Area watering holes like Abby’s Desert Lounge, Third World Lounge, and Best House have closed – the later two being replaced with kitschy bars that cater more towards the influx of hipsters than the residents who have been living there for years.

Despite the unstoppable growth of University City, many of the restaurants and hangouts have maintained and adapted to the changing surroundings. One space in particular is Dahlak Paradise, located at 4708 Baltimore Avenue. Dhalak, as the locals call it, is an Eri-Ethiopian Bar and Restaurant that serves traditional East African cuisine in an authentic Habesha setting. In the back of the Restaurant is a narrow bar that is, more often than not, super crowded. The bar area leads to a back patio area where drinkers can get a breath of fresh air or step out for a smoke. Continue reading →