Ras-Ka: Healing the Community with Cuisine

SONY DSCSizzling sounds and intoxicating smells wafted out of the open kitchen doorway. Ras-Ka Ethiopian restaurant expanded about six months ago to accommodate about double the amount of people that used to squeeze into the kitchen area and patio. Everything inside the intimate atmosphere was crafted by hand: the floors, tables, bathroom, the copper lion at the top of a waterfall feature behind the bar, the custom glass work. The people closest to Owner Hanna Selassie did their own part to put it all together.
Hanna relayed the story of where the restaurant’s name came from: “A rebel Ethiopian king named Ras Kassa had an herbalist healer as a mother who shamed the kingdom, so he abandoned the castle and lived in a tent. He was my ideal human being,” she said.
It is Ras-Ka’s eighth year in business and the success is built on friendship and communion. Hanna said, “Instead of complaining, it’s better to create an alternative instead of being afraid. I enjoy serving, and the customer service feels just like home. There is too much isolation and fear in the world. I like providing a place where people are able to talk about spirituality and enjoy each other’s company. It’s beyond food.”
Ras-Ka relies on community involvement and has a farm-to-table, environmentally sustainable way of providing dinner. The menu is 98% Gluten free (except the sambosas). “I like my flaws,” Hanna said, “but I got rid of my beef and buffalo which were the most popular on the menu. Business declined, but we don’t need to sacrifice so many things to have beef. At the end of the day I’m happy because my consciousness is almost free.”
Hanna is the epicenter of Ras-Ka. She studied business, fashion design and art at CSU and believes “that culture is man-made and dynamic. We are entitled to make our own culture. Living a fun life with the culture and cuisine of a community is what inspired this place.”
The food and drink are full of aromas and flavors that keep the palate dancing. Sophie’s African Tea (named after her daughter) is full of hand blended spices mixed with red tea and sweetened with honey. It is very light and not too sweet. The menu has vegan entrees as well as chicken and fish, and offers family style dining that allows the choice of four entrees to share and the choice of tea or coffee and rice pudding. Our dinner came out beautifully colorful on a long plate with grilled salmon, chicken with spicy Ras-Ka sauce, plantains, yams with a tasty gravy, sauteed vegetables, a fresh salad, and the spongy delicious injera bread. The plantains are as good as dessert, although the dark chocolate cake with caramelized coconut and fresh fruit is to die for.
Hanna is opening a commissary kitchen in May to sell and package Ras-Ka sauce next door to Pizza Casbah and she is very excited about this new venture. “It’s not just me, there are thousands of people that are part of the whole process of the plate making it to the table.”
Hanna believes Fort Collins has “mycelium kids. It’s a mushroom that goes in the ground and encompasses all the universe and the space and fertilizes everything. This generation is so aware and awakened and ready for change. If they come in peace, show love and be heard, we can take them from being so in the air, cyberkids, and integrate them and learn from them to create something beautiful and bigger than us.”
Based on the amazing experience and food that we had at Ras-Ka and with Hanna, I encourage everyone to go to this incredible place and enjoy the beauty that she has created.
Hours: Closed Sundays, noon-8:30p Mon-Sat. Find Ras-Ka on Yelp! for reservations.

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