Makeda Ethiopian Restaurant
McLean / Ethiopian / $$
Not everyone likes getting their hands dirty. There are many times that this preference is appropriate, but tearing into a terry-cloth-soft roll of injera isn’t one of them. Just make sure your fingernails are well-trimmed and you know where the sinks are before you start eating the compellingly acidic flatbread.
After all, injera serves as the basis for much of Ethiopian cuisine. It can be both plate and utensil for achingly delicious stews made from everything from lentils to lamb. The biggest flavors come courtesy of berbere, a deep-red spice mix that gives everything it touches an intense earthiness dipped in fire.
On a combo plate, mesir wot, red lentils bathed in berbere, is usually the first thing to go. Meat lovers will appreciate similar flavors in the chicken stew, doro wot. The poultry sheds easily from the bone as a bit of injera grasps it away and into a hungry mouth.
Words like berbere, awaze, and mitmita are as wonderful to say as they are to taste. They’re well worth washing your hands afterward.
See this: The brightly hued African art can’t help but catch your eye.
Eat this: Mesir wot, doro wot, whole tilapia
Service: Well-informed, kind, and efficient. If you don’t know what to order, don’t worry. Your server will be happy to help.
When to dine here: You’re not feeling too fancy to eat with your hands, but still want a nice glass of wine.