1334 Ninth St., NW; 202-299-9703
This rowhouse restaurant may have a Ninth Street address—on the restaurant row off U Street that’s known as Little Ethiopia—but it lies blocks from its competition. The cooking, too, stands apart, with a complexity and robustness that are testament to the unspoken but unmistakable desire of the operation, owned by Alemayehu Abebe, to cook for Ethiopian expats. You don’t have to have grown up in Addis to appreciate this passionately uncompromising approach. You might have tasted dozens of versions of beans and tomatoes, but it’s unlikely any has come close to this remarkable depth or richness. Likewise the yebeg wat, its hunks of lamb thickly coated in a stew-like sauce that looks more like melted chocolate than the red of an all-day marinara that some places favor, and whose flavor can’t be chased with a long sip of St. George, the Ethiopian equivalent of Heineken.
Also good: Kitfo (an Ethiopian beef tartare); mesir wat (red-lentil stew).
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