Cheap Eats 2008: Queen Makeda

Why go: Ethiopian food is grandma food, and the second-best place to experience one of DC’s most interesting and rewarding cuisines is at this grandma-driven establishment, a chartreuse townhouse across the street from Little Ethiopia’s reigning matriarch, Etete. Kefaynesh Demssie is the cook and co-owner (with son Sofonias Amde), serving up rich, aggressively spiced stews in a remodeled townhouse that boasts hand-stitched canopies and a tiki bar.

What to get: Shiro, a yellow split-pea stew as creamy as a velouté and with a cinnamon perfume; thick, bone-in hunks of lamb in alicha, a spicy yellow sauce made from turmeric, garlic, and onion; gored gored, stir-fried cubes of beef in a light, peppery sauce; spicy, buttery kitfo, an Ethiopian steak tartare.

Best for: A civilized meal in a setting that encourages lingering.

Insider tip: Asking for extra helpings—almost unthinkable at any other restaurant—might here elicit a smile of pride from the sweet-natured staff.

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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.