1942 Ninth St., NW
Washington, DC 20001
Neighborhood: U Street/Shaw
Cuisines: Vegetarian/Vegan, Ethiopian
Open daily 11 to 1.
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Nearby Metro Stops: U St./African-American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo, Shaw-Howard University
Price Range: Moderate
Noise Level: Chatty
Reservations: Not Needed
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.
Appetizers $2.75 to $5; entrées $10 to $14.99.
Special Features: Wheelchair Accessible, Kid Friendly, Valet Parking Available
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Ethiopian cooking is home cooking—to look for finery is to miss the point. But this two-story cafe is more exacting than any in the area, making it an excellent entry point for those new to wats and tibs as well as a rewarding stop for diners eager to experience the depth of the cuisine at its best.
Tiwaltenigus Shengelegne runs the kitchen, as she did for many years at the late, great Fasika’s in DC’s Adams Morgan, spooning her signature doro wat and crusty-edged lamb tibs onto rounds of injera, the spongy, sour bread that serves as both plate and utensil. Those stews are as rich and concentrated as a wine reduction, rendering the occasionally chewy meats in them almost beside the point.
Owner Yared Tesfaye, Shengelegne’s son, has created a bistro-like setting (cocktails, mood lighting, polished wood floors) to play against the rusticity of his mother’s cooking. Modernity and tradition have seldom fit so well.
Also good: Sambusas, crispy lentil pastries; yebeg wat, a fiery lamb stew; vegetarian platter, including kik alicha (yellow split peas), mesir wat (red-lentil stew), gomen (collard greens), and azifa (green-lentil stew with Ethiopian mustard and jalapeños).
Open daily for lunch and dinner. Inexpensive.