There are simply too many good Ethiopian restaurants in the area to declare a best. But it would be hard to sit down to an Ethiopian meal that’s more vibrant, more colorful, more assuredly spiced than our most recent visit to this chill and cozy haunt. Seldom do you find a kitchen at any level, in any cuisine, that handles vegetables with this degree of knowledge and care. To dine meatlessly here—feasting, say, on the generous vegetarian sampler—is to appreciate that comfort food isn’t limited to fried chicken and meatloaf. One of the items on that platter, the cold green-lentil salad known as azifa, is a stunner, the best preparation you’ll come across in the area—the flavors sharper, the tang tangier. That’s not to say meat is stinted on: The magnificent bone-in lamb in the yebeg wat attests to the kitchen’s level of detail, as does the gravy-like sauce, aromatic with cinnamon and clove.
Where you can get it: 4709 N. Chambliss St., Alexandria; 703-642-3628
Also good: Kitfo,a beef tartare; beef tibs, a stir-fry of meat, onion, and peppers.