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'll get $30 worth of Ethiopian food at Meskerem Ethiopian Restaurant, located in Adams Morgan. This Groupon is valid for dine-in only. It is not valid toward drinks.
Meskerem offers an Ethiopian dining experience amid the lush textures and rich earth-tones of its authentic décor and invisible backrub-ghosts. The mouthwatering menu boasts traditional spicy stews and tons of tasty vegetarian options. Start off with a flaky and golden-fried sambusa ($3.75 with minced and spiced beef or chicken; $3.50 vegetarian). Those looking for a spicy kick without having to boot a soccer ball on fire will enjoy the gomen watt (collard greens in hot and spicy berbere sauce, $8.75) or yebeg kay watt (lamb in berbere, $10.25). For milder-meal-desirers, the alitcha watt lays lean beef to sleep in a flavorful onion-and-herb sauce ($11). Go with a group with each person getting something different to share, or try the Meskerem messob, a sampler of the eatery's beef, chicken, lamb, and vegetarian dishes arranged on a large tray ($11.95 for one; $23 will serve two people). Meskerem also offers a savory vegetarian messob ($11 for one; $21 for two) for those wishing to take a break from beef binges.
In the upstairs dining room, tables and stools are placed low to the ground, enabling parties to rub elbows around a communal plate in order to generate the static electricity needed to power a light-bulb for the science fair tomorrow. In traditional Ethiopian etiquette, feeding your fellow diners is a gesture of friendship and loyalty. Though you are welcome not to eat from the hand of your friends, this tradition is a great way to reinforce old friendships or get closer to the father of a new sweetheart.
Zagat, Frommer’s, and Gayot reviewed Meskerem Ethiopian Restaurant. Yahoo! Locals give the restaurant an average of four stars, 85% of nearly 240 Urbanspooners recommend it, and more than 175 Yelpers give it an average of 3.5 stars:
- …Meskerem in Adams-Morgan was one of the first Ethiopian restaurants and remains among the best, especially for newcomers to the food. – Frommer’s
- An “exotic” “adventure” awaits at this “popular” “Adams Morgan staple”, a “warm” if “understated” triplex where diners park on “hassocks on the floor” to enjoy an “addictive” “array” of “traditional” Ethiopian dishes scooped up with spongy injera bread; the “friendly” staff is “helpful to folks who haven’t wrestled with” the genre before, and it offers “excellent value” for a “casual meal with a group.” – Zagat
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.