100 Best Restaurants 2008: Etete
No. 77: Etete
Reviewed By Todd Kliman, Ann Limpert, Cynthia Hacinli, Dave McIntyre
Comments () | Published January 1, 2008
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Address: 1942 Ninth St., NW, Washington, DC 20001
Phone: 202-232-7600
Neighborhood: U Street/Shaw
Cuisines: Vegetarian/Vegan, Ethiopian
Opening Hours: Open daily 11 PM to 1 AM.
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Nearby Metro Stops: U Street/African-American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo, Shaw-Howard University
Price Range: Moderate
Dress: Informal
Noise Level: Chatty
Reservations: Not Needed
Best Dishes Sambusas (lentil or beef turnovers); wats such as chicken-and-egg doro wat and yebeg wat, a lamb stew; vegetarian sampler of azifa (green lentils), yekik alicha (yellow-lentil-and-onion stew), and yemisir wat (red lentils); gomen (collard greens); kitfo.
Price Details: Appetizers $2.75 to $5; entrées $10 to $14.99.
Special Features:
Wheelchair Accessible, Valet Parking Available

Cuisine: Ethiopian cooking, homey and assured—prepared and sometimes ladled out tableside by Tiwaltengus Shenegelgn, the gentle-souled etete (“mama” in Amharic) of the restaurant’s name.

Mood: The dark, incense-filled Ethiopian restaurants of a generation ago have given way here to an almost slick space—polished wood floors, dangling lights—that could pass for a wine bar.

Best for: Diners who can appreciate the sensual experience of an Ethiopian repast—you eat with your hands—and who like to linger. Westerners may find the service slow, but a leisurely style is not the prerogative of the French alone.

Best dishes: Sambusas, crispy, three-cornered pockets stuffed with lentils; lega tibs (lamb) and doro wat (chicken and egg), swimming in a complex red sauce that derives its heat from the Ethiopian compound spice berbere; the cool, mustard-spiked green-lentil dish called azifa, a necessary cooling agent; dark-roasted coffee.

Insider tips: Ordering a fasting platter—an assortment of vegetarian dishes—is a smart way to counteract the heaviness of the meat-based stews and to experience the full range of the cooking. In your choice of seven, include the gomen, or buttery collards, and the creamy yekik alicha, or yellow lentils.

Service: ••

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