Eating with your hands is a joy second only to playing a woodwind instrument with your feet. Dig in with all four hands with today's Groupon: for $15, you get $30 worth of upscale Ethiopian cuisine at Meskerem Ethiopian Restaurant.
Meskerem Ethiopian Restaurant, which takes its name from the Ethiopian month that marks the transition from the rainy to the sunny season, wins fans with a menu of upscale traditional eats served on spongy injera bread. Appetizers include deep-fried sambusa—dough shells that contain veggies, beef, or chicken ($3.75+)—as well as large, fresh shrimp that primp for dinner with a soothing steam treatment ($5.95). Lamb entree yebeg kay watt soaks in hot and thick berbere sauce ($12.50), and the poultry-centric yedoro fitfit brandishes mild sauce and a companion hard-boiled egg ($11.75). Vegetarian entrees include tikil gomen, a blend of spiced cabbage, carrots, and potato chunks ($10.25), and shurro watt, an assortment of spiced chickpeas that rivals The Lentil Museum in its collection of meaningful legumes ($9.95).
For an authentic dining experience, Meskerem summons guests to enjoy their meals atop short, traditional stools amid brightly tiled décor and wall-mounted artifacts. The eating style is ideal for friends, as patrons munch from communal plates and customarily hug after every third bite.
Meskerem Ethiopian Restaurant
Meskerem Ethiopian Restaurant takes its name from the first month of the Ethiopian calendar, which typically signifies the end of the three-month rainy season and the beginning of more favorable weather. The chefs draw inspiration from this sense of joyous bounty while preparing the menu of spicy stews, sautéed meats, and puréed vegetables, which they serve atop family-style platters perfect for sharing. Instead of relying on the silverware or grease troughs typically found in many American restaurants, they line each communal platter of entrees with spongy injera, a sourdough bread made from teff or fermented whole wheat that allows diners to scoop individual bites off the serving trays. The injera's slight tang lends a distinctive flavor to the rest of the cuisine, which includes lamb in a mild blend of string beans, carrots, and potatoes as well as collard greens in a berbere sauce, a spicy concoction that draws heat from its eponymous Ethiopian pepper.
The owners also work to replicate and share Ethiopia’s high regard for community and relaxing meal times by inviting guests to cluster around their low-slung tables and recline on one of the dining room's 100-year-old chairs.
2434 18th St. NW
Washington, District of Columbia 20009