By Don Cazentre |

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Syracuse, N.Y. — Habiba’s Ethiopian Kitchen will be the newest vendor, and the first replacement stall, at downtown Syracuse’s Salt City Market food hall.

Habiba’s is not new to Syracuse: Owner Habiba Boru opened a standalone restaurant featuring her East African cuisine at 656 N. Salina St. in 2018. Boru has closed that location soon as she makes the transition to the market at 484 S. Salina St.

Habiba’s will take the space in the Salt City Market recently vacated by Pie’s The Limit, an original vendor stall that is moving to its own standalone location. The space is between Erma’s Island (Jamaican cuisine) and the Syracuse Cooperative Market.

Habiba’s is expected to open in the market in early September.

Boru came to Syracuse as a refugee in 2000. She learned to cook while watching her mother prepare meals when they lived in a refugee camp in Kenya.

Habiba’s menu has included traditional Ethiopian foods, such as spicy wats, or stews, and vegetable dishes such as gomen (collard greens) and atakilt wat (a mix of potatoes and vegetables). It also features Injera, a sourdough flatbread.

According to a news release from the Salt City Market, Boru is leaving her North Side location after dealing with the challenges of the Covid pandemic and struggling with deteriorating conditions in the building she occupied.

“I love the North Side, I will always love the Northside because my restaurant got its start there,” Boru said in the news release. “But I’m also really excited to take the next step into a new journey and be a part of something as unique as the Salt City Market.”

Pies The Limit was among the original 10 food stalls to open when the Salt City Market made its debut in January 2021. It is the first to move out on its own. Its new location, to open next year, has not been disclosed.

The market, whose vendors feature several international and regional American cuisines, has been preparing to fill a vendor space when one came open.

“Earlier this year, we conducted focus groups to find out what customers wanted to see next in the Salt City Market, and got a number of requests to see an African food concept,” CJ Butler, the market’s marketing and communications manager, said. “When we learned a few months later that Pie’s the Limit was moving on and Habiba’s was in need of a new location, it felt like divine timing.”

Several of the current vendors also represent refugee communities, often with ties to Syracuse North Side.

“Habiba’s Ethiopian Kitchen has been a beloved North Side staple for nearly 4 years, so we’re very excited and lucky to have her join the Salt City Market team,” Salt City Market manager Adam Sudmann said. “Her story and passion totally fit the mission of the market, and we know she’ll bring a wealth of experience and perspective to our current vendors.”

The Salt City Market occupies the ground floor of a $22 million four-story building developed and operated by the nonprofit Allyn Family Foundation through its Syracuse Urban Partnership organization. The market is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. It recently announced a late-night food option on summer weekends.

Habiba’s is featured in this 2019 video focusing on hot and spicy foods in Syracuse:

Don Cazentre writes for and The Post-Standard. Reach him at, or follow him at, on Twitter or Facebook.