Why go: This terra-cotta-painted dining room sits in the heart of the few blocks known as Little Ethiopia. Although it has plenty of competition, it remains the standard setter for long-simmered meats and brightly flavored vegetarian stews, all crafted by the owner’s mother. All the while, servers keep the baskets of injera—bread used in place of silverware—coming.
What to get: Sambosas, wide pockets of fried pastry filled with lentils; vegetarian platter with the red-lentil stew yemisir wat, a cool and spicy mash of peas called yekik alicha, a mustardy mix of green lentils known as azifa, and the collard greens called gomen; the area’s definitive version of the chicken dish doro wat; beef-tartare-like kitfo with cottage cheese and a sprinkle of fiery mitmita powder.
Best for: Communal dining with a group—most everything is eaten off large single platters of injera.
Insider tip: Ethiopia is known for its coffee, and the strong cups here can be had until 2 am nightly. In the afternoon, incense wafts through a relaxing coffee ceremony.
>> See all 2010 Cheap Eats restaurants here