Ethiopian food is a hit: fun, tasty and healthy
Denver Post - Washington, DC
by John Henderson
... On a picture-perfect sunny Sunday, we met at a place called Meskerem in the Adams Morgan section of northwest Washington. There are 100,000 Ethiopians and 17 Ethiopian restaurants in the city, and it appeared Adams Morgan is the community's nerve center. I passed an Eritrean souvenir store, an African art and jewelry store called Oya's Mini Bazaar, and Queen's Cafe & Hookah.
Ambassador Kassahun Ayele greeted me upstairs in the airy, tastefully decorated two-story restaurant, adorned with Ethiopian musical instruments. Ethiopian waitresses scurried around with huge trays of food. He was accompanied by Mesfin Endrias, his press attaché; Bekri Nuru, who owns the restaurant with his wife, Nafisa Said; and Naile Geriges, the restaurant's consultant.
Ayele, 56, is short and stout, and he looked regal in a jet-black suit and blue-and-white striped tie. He adjusted his mod glasses as we sat on stools next to a large, low, round table. I could smell expensive cologne when I asked about the authenticity of Ethiopian food in the city. ... >>more
DC has many Ethiopian restaurants, most of them within blocks of each other in Adams Morgan, one of the city's most vibrant neighborhoods. Meskerem, a moderately-priced restaurant in the heart of Adams Morgan on 18th Street, has been a local and tourist favorite for years. The atmosphere is bright and friendly, with African instruments and colorful murals decorating the walls. Seating is on three levels, but to enjoy the Ethiopian-style basket tables and low stools, you should request the top floor.
Ethiopian food is meant to be eaten with the hands, and it is meant to be shared. The dishes are served on "injera" -- a large, round slab of spongy bread, which you tear up and use to scoop your food. At Meskerem, the most popular menu items are the vegetarian and meat samplers, or "messabi." Samplers include both mild and spicy dishes like stewed lamb and beef, pureed chickpeas, mashed lentils and chopped greens. Dining here should be a communal experience, so bring an intimate group of friends. But be warned -- parking in Adams Morgan on the weekend is truly a nightmare. -- Teresa Gionis ..." >>more
The more I check out the competition, the more I'm drawn to Meskerem. Among the capital's many Ethiopian restaurants, this one feels the most comfortable. The seating is spread across three levels; head for the low stools beneath the spoked ceiling of the top floor, or one of the window perches where you can peer out at a steady stream of passersby (and they at you). The menu is ambitious as well, starting with won-ton-like pastries stuffed with minced beef or collard greens, steamed shrimp with a zippy red dipping sauce, and a vivid salad of chopped beets, potatoes and chilies. From there, you can move on to a variety of mild or hot stewed meats, vegetables and seafood, presented on large trays lined with injera, the thick fermented pancakes that double as scoops for the food. (The dishes are meant to be eaten communally, over basketlike tables, and with the hands.) I'm partial to the vegetarian sampler, which includes earth-toned dollops of pureed chick peas, mashed lentils, potato salad with green chilies and soothing chopped greens -- an edible artist's palette..." >>more
What's Wat? - By Victor Tanner and Willet Weeks
Washington Is a Center for Ethiopian Cooking and Culture.
Here's How to Find the Area's Best Ethiopian Restaurants.
" ... Both Victor Tanner and Willet Weeks have spent many years in the Horn of Africa as relief workers and policy experts. They share an abiding addiction for the region's many cuisines.
Meskerem is another mainstream Ethiopian that caters to American customers. It offers a very accessible dining experience in a very yellow decor. You will likely enjoy it, but also try more authentic places... >>more
Author: Elise Hartman Ford
Washington has a number of Ethiopian restaurants, but this is probably the best. It's certainly the most attractive; the three-level high-ceilinged dining room has an oval skylight girded by a painted sunburst and walls hung with African art and musical instruments. On the mezzanine level, you sit at messobs (basket tables) on low, carved Ethiopian chairs or upholstered leather poufs. Ethiopian music enhances the ambience.
Diners share large platters of food, which they scoop up with a sourdough crepelike pancake called injera (no silverware here). You'll notice a lot of watt dishes, which refers to the traditional Ethiopian stew, made with your choice of beef, chicken, lamb, or vegetables, in varying degrees of hot and spicy; the alicha watts are milder and more delicately flavored. You might share an entree -- perhaps yegeb kay watt (succulent lamb in thick, hot berbere sauce) -- along with a platter of five vegetarian dishes served with tomato and potato salads. Some combination platters comprise an array of beef, chicken, lamb, and vegetables. There's a full bar; the wine list includes Ethiopian wine and beer. >>more