I have to admit, Ethiopian food is not my favorite. I find it pretty boring because all the food pretty much tastes the same to me. Amy, however, loves it. The other night, we went over to Adams Morgan to try Cities again but to our disappointment, they were closed (Cities is closed until April to prepare for their yearly change in menu). Right next-door to Cities, is Meskerem (I wonder if Amy knew that Cities was closed :)). I had been putting off getting Ethiopian food for a while now. Pretty much every time we go out, Amy brings up the idea of either going to Zed's or Meskerem, and I find an excuse not to go. There was no excuse this time.
If you are familiar with Ethiopian food then you can skip this paragraph. The idea of Ethiopian food is that it is meant to be shared. Basically, when they bring out the food, it is all on one plate. On the bottom of the plate, is a very thin layer of bread called injera. Injera is very similar to a pancake in texture; however, it is not in taste. The server will also bring everyone at the table a large piece of injera to eat the food with. This is your utensils. Tear off a piece of the injera and use it to scoop the food off the plate. The server will hen take the dishes and pour them onto the injera. They also give you some vegetarian sides; usually a couple lentil stews. Mix the different dishes together. The combinations can be pretty interesting.
Meskerem is regarded as one of the best Ethiopian restaurants in DC by most food critics in the area. Amy and I both tend to feel that as far as quality of food and service, Zed's in Georgetown is superior, especially when it comes to service. Meskerem does not seem to be able to handle the busiest times of the day and we end up waiting forever to get our food. This last experience at Meskerem left me pretty disappointed. I ordered the Assa Watt which is their fish version of the stew with the spicy berbere sauce. The fish was way overcooked and almost chewy. I could not even finish it. Their lamb, beef and vegetarian dishes, however, are very tasty. So if I were you, I would just stick to them. Here is a picture of the food we ate.
Yes, my camera phone does not take the best pictures, however, the food is not the most appetizing-looking out there. It does taste a lot better than it looks.
Pretty much every Ethiopian restaurant we have been to has the same dishes. Our favorite appetizers are the sambussas which are little fried pastries that are vary similar to egg rolls with various vegetables or meats in them. The main courses are usually stews made with sauces that vary in levels of spice. The true Ethiopian restaurant will also serve Kitfo or Gored Gored. Both feature very lean rare meat in various spices and sauce. I have never been brave enough to try these dishes.
If you are looking for an Ethiopian restaurant, there are plenty around. Like I said before, Zeds and Mekerem are probably the best in the area. We have yet to try Dukem, which we have heard is excellent. But what ever you do, STAY AWAY FROM AWASH on 18th st. Amy got the worst case of food poisoning from there.
Meskerem is casual and reasonably priced. The average price of a bottle of wine is about $25 and the average price of an entree is about $10. Our bill are usually around $50-70 after tip.
2434 18th St. NW