Cheap Eats 2016: Shagga Coffee & Restaurant

Cheap Eats 2016: Shagga Coffee & Restaurant
Shagga Coffe & Restaurant owner Kelem Lemu. Photograph by Scott Suchman.
Good for Groups Vegetarian-Friendly

When owner/chef Kelem Lemu is at the stove, the cooking at this erstwhile Donut Connection, now an Ethiopian coffeehouse and diner, rises a notch and transforms the place into a cafe of cozy, communal warmth. Be sure to ask if she’s in. And while you’re at it, be sure to let your young and gracious servers know you want your beef tibs—a dish analogous to a meat stir-fry or fajitas—cooked derek, or extra-dry (the marinated morsels become more interesting than if they’d been left pink in the center: crunchy and full of savor). One dish you won’t find at many other Ethiopian restaurants in the area is ayeb gomen, in which garlicky, chopped collards are tossed with a soft house-made cheese. An Ethiopian beer such as Bedele or St. George is the ideal pairing with the rich, spiced food, but don’t pass up one of the best cups of coffee around; the soy lattes are creamy and sublime, and more satisfying than some desserts.

Also good: Kitfo leb-leb (chopped, spiced beef tartare cooked lightly); vegetarian combos; doro wat or yebeg wat (chicken or lamb in berbere-laced sauce).

See what other restaurants made our 2016 Cheap Eats list. This article appears in our May 2016 issue of Washingtonian.

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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.

Anna Spiegel
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.