Cheap Eats 2011: Shagga

For the lattes alone–made from beans roasted by Annapolis’s Caffé Pronto and brewed to a mellow richness–this former doughnut shop would be noteworthy. But it also sends out some of the area’s best Ethiopian cooking.

Without the oiliness that some Ethiopian spots are prone to, the wats have a pleasing lightness that doesn’t sacrifice depth or character. Kelem Lemu–who owns the place with her husband, Adamu–is a generous, attentive cook. The result is less like dining in a restaurant than like sitting down to an offhandedly excellent meal in someone’s home. The best meals mix meats and veggies. We like the doro wata sweet, spicy stew enrobing two chicken legs and a hard-boiled egg and sitting on a round of injera, the crepe-like bread that takes the place of utensils–alongside kik alicha (split-pea stew), gomen (collards), and tomato salad.

Also good: Chicken sambusas, savory fried pastries; yebeg wat, lamb stew with ginger and chilies; yebeg wat, lamb stir-fry; mesir tibs, red-lentil stew.

Open daily for lunch and dinner.

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 Petworth.