Though they’re one of the main ethnic groups in Ethiopia, the Gurage people are primarily known across the country for their cuisine. So, it’s no wonder that Merkamo Ethiopian Bistro borrowed a Gurage word, “merkamo,” for its name. The term, which describes a beauty that “radiat[es] purity of heart and ‘Joie de Vivre’ for all,” has also been used to describe the owner’s mother—a woman who kept a warm, inviting house where friends and family gathered for decadent meals.
Inviting diners with decadent Ethiopian feasts and a welcoming ambiance, Merkamo Ethiopian Bistro also impresses with a lunch and dinner menu that flourishes with hearty vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals. Patrons can sample lamb tripe with spicy beans, and doro wett—a simmering chicken dish typically served on special occasions such as successfully hot-wiring your car after losing the keys in a play-area ball pit. Merkamo also accommodates children with tasty dishes that range from mild beef stew to chicken nuggets.
Every pizza at zpizza is freshly prepared, hand thrown, gently coaxed into the oven using soft birdcalls and pheromone trails, and fire-baked to crispy perfection. The dough is prepared fresh daily from 100% certified-organic wheat, and z is also happy to offer certified organic and gluten-free crusts, sating the pizza desire of the allergic, dieters, and wheat sympathizers. Toppings include award-winning Wisconsin skim mozzarella, MSG-free pepperoni, certified-organic tomato sauce, additive-free sausage, and fresh produce. Try a large ZBQ pizza (with barbecue sauce, mozzarella, barbecue chicken, roasted pepper, red onion, tomato, cilantro, and sweet corn; $20.95 for a large) or a chicken curry and yam rustica (with mozzarella, curry chicken, yam, mango chutney, raisin, and cilantro; $8.95). Vegans can delight in the Berkeley vegan, a faux-cheese veggie pizza (with marinara, veggie burger crumbles, zucchini, tomato, mushroom, red onion, and bell pepper; $10.50 for a small), and traveling tongues can sate their wanderlust with a mouthwatering Moroccan rustica (with pesto, mozzarella, roasted eggplant, feta cheese, caramelized onion, and pine nut; $8.95).
Taco Del Mar's bright tiki-bar ambience nicely matches the vibrant colors in the food. Try to one-hand the Mondo burrito with meat, beans, rice, sour cream, and pico de gallo ($5.89), or flatten out the situation with a cheese quesadilla ($3.69). Taking a break from the tortilla, Taco Del Mar offers food in its primal pile form with a burrito bowl ($5.89) and two cabbage-slawed, chipotle-sour-creamed tacos ($4.39). Dive into an edible Mexican cornucopia with the enchilada-taco combo platter ($7.99). Those seeking a bit of satisfaction can nab smaller "Mondito" burritos ($3.99) or a taco salad in a baked, rather than fried, shell ($5.99).
Walker's Grille's general manager Austin Holmes embraces eco-friendly restaurant practices, building a menu upon naturally raised meats, local produce, and sustainable dairy from Kreider Farms. Within the chic, LEED-certified restaurant, Surryano Virginia ham teams up with chicken and pistachio terrine and three domestic cheeses on the artisan cheese and charcuterie plate ($14), and mushroom sauce blankets the hand-battered buttermilk chicken supreme ($16). The light flavors of leeks, scallions, white wine, and fresh thyme complement the Clear Spring trout en papillote ($17) as honey-chipotle demi-glace lends the seared Kurobuta Berkshire pork chop ($22) a smoky sweetness rarely experienced outside of gingerbread-house fires. Chefs expertly toss, whisk, and emulsify all meal components in-house to ensure fresh flavors.
At Genghis Grill, cooks stir-fry more than 70 fresh ingredients to make healthy, flavorful bowls loaded with proteins and vegetables. Diners can mix and match ingredients to create customized feasts, or choose signature dishes such as the Thai Chicken bowl with chicken, veggies, and udon noodles in red curry peanut sauce. Nutrition-focused heart-healthy bowls, developed with the help of a dietitian, feature flavor combinations such as Sichuan-style bamboo beef or ginger-citrus shrimp.
Specializing in artisan bread and European-style desserts, The Swiss Bakery sends taste buds straight to Zurich, where scrumptious cookies, sugary umlauts, and tasty tarts reign supreme. The Swiss Bakery's cookies ($16.95 per pound) change seasonally, with a wide array of tantalizing flavors and season-themed shapes such as bats and reindeer. Indulge in a scoop of premium ice cream or fresh sorbet ($1.95–$4.85 per scoop), with coffee toasted-almond and white-chocolate peppermint in the ice cream arsenal, and white-peach champagne and blood-orange pomegranate playing for sorbet's summer baseball team. Feed the Ricola alpenhorn players camped out in your basement with a European or American tart ($10–$12), including continental varieties such as raspberry-marmalade Linzer tart and the marzipan-packed gingerbread Biberfladen.
At Let's Dish!, families select healthy, hearty meals to eat at home without having to dedicate valuable time to planning, shopping, or preparation. After placing an order online, patrons stop by the shop at a scheduled time to find dishes that are made from fresh ingredients, customized to taste, and then, like Sleeping Beauty, frozen to prevent them from aging. Meal menus rotate monthly and include homestyle selections, such as pork tenderloin, pulled pork with mashed potatoes, and rosemary and mustard grilled flank steak. The preassembled Dish-n-Dash entrees allow for speedy pickup service, freeing families to spend more quality bonding time sorting the mail by size and color.