Ethiopian-Inspired Burger and Fried Chicken Sandwich Shop Mélange Is Closing

Chef Elias Taddesse hopes to find a new location.

Mélange chef/owner Elias Taddesse. Photograph courtesy Edens.

Chef Elias Taddesse will close his Ethiopian burger and fried chicken sandwich shop in Mount Vernon Triangle on Saturday, April 22 after more than three and a half years. But he says he plans to eventually reopen the restaurant in a space that’s better suited for the concept.

Taddesse’s original vision for Mélange was part fast-casual, part fine-dining. He had previously worked for Michelin-starred restaurants in New York and hoped to combine his French training and Ethiopian heritage with an evening tasting menu. Instead, he ended up doubling down on his takeout offerings during the pandemic. The place was known for its classic burgers with berbere fries, doro-wat-style fried chicken sandwiches, Ethiopian-inspired ice cream flavors, and milkshakes.

“I don’t want to get stuck on that fast-food narrative,” Taddesse says. “We were running that fast-food carryout delivery operation out of a full restaurant, which doesn’t really make sense.”

Taddesse says business was “fine” but he always thought of it as a “pop-up situation.” He’s getting married later this month and wants to take time to recharge. Nothing is changing for Doro Soul Food, his Ethiopian-style fried chicken and comfort food restaurant that opened near Howard University in the fall.

“I think it’s a well-deserved and well-needed reset button to really come back strong,” he says of Melange. “It’s hard to execute your vision when you’re adapting every single time.”

Popville first reported news of the closure. 

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.