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Ethiopian Restaurant Recs...

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sebastianxx Feb 10, 2007 09:47 AM

Wondering which Ethiopian restaurant to visit among those clustered along Fairfax and La Brea Boulevards. I am familiar with the food, but would like to take some friends who have never tried it. Is there one that would be suitable for regulars and newbies alike? Thanks, hounds!

  1. s
    sebastianxx Mar 12, 2007 10:21 AM

    Driving up and down Fairfax for years gazing at the "Little Ethiopia" restaurant row, I figured it was due time to revisit the cuisine I'd enjoyed while a college student down in San Diego. Taking everyone's suggestions, we settled on Meals By Genet. Five friends were enlisted, a seven-thirty reservation was secured, and off we went for a Friday night feast...

    We arrived on time to be seated in the circular table near the front window, the "reserved" sign removed as we sat. It was quite busy, most if not all tables occupied, with a nearby party of eight celebrating a birthday, a festive atmosphere, and nice lighting if a bit dark (One of our group, Steven, had to hold a tealight candle to read the menu.) Our server came within ten minutes, and we ordered a bottle each of Pinot and a Chardonnay, nothing extraordinary, but tasty and reasonably priced.

    So far, so good.

    Then we ordered.

    Let me preface my complaints with the fact that the food was wonderful. (Picture google-imaged from latimemachines.com by the way) We ordered the vegetarian combination, a lamb stew ("Alitcha"), a spicy chicken dish stewed with red peppers ("dorowat"), and a tofu dish. The food arrived on a two-foot wide platter, served on injera bread, a thin vinegar-scented pancake that was also served on individual plates. We ripped off a piece and used it to scoop up the meat or vegetable of our choosing and plop the whole thing in our mouths. Each offered its own intriguing depth of flavor that contrasted with the next yet harmonized as a whole.

    Now, the complaint. I'd give it 2 stars of 5. Well, the math goes like this:

    Food: Four Stars
    Two Hour Wait: No Stars
    Drunken Steven: Priceless

    The portion were generous, so most of us ate a light lunch if at all, preparing for the bounty awaiting us. So we were ravenous by the time the food came. We had ordered wine (740pm) and sipped and waited a half hour and sipped and waited another half-hour and got a bit buzzed and ordered another bottle of wine and sipped and waited and then began joking about hoping for some humanitarian aid, blocks of cheese, crusts of bread...ANYTHING!!! Then, well into the next hour we weren't joking so much as fervently praying for an airlift of sacks of grain or even a can of creamed frickin corn...

    Would I return? Absolutely! But I would have to eat before I came, or at least phoned in an order a couple of hours before. Meals By Genet has been proclaimed to be the best Ethiopian Restaurant in L.A, and I see no reason to doubt that.

    But is it worth the wait?

     
    2 Replies
    1. re: sebastianxx
      Das Ubergeek Mar 12, 2007 11:36 AM

      I've been eating at Genet for a couple of years and while it's slow, I have NEVER experienced a wait like that... did you complain to anyone?

      1. re: Das Ubergeek
        s
        sebastianxx Mar 16, 2007 03:08 PM

        Well, the waiter warned us that food was made to order... and our later inquiries were met with,"It's on its way, sorry..."

        Maybe it was bad timing, other tables all ordered at once, I don't know, but we got the impression that a long wait was customary.

    2. s
      sebastianxx Feb 22, 2007 03:37 PM

      meant to include the link...

      http://www.mealsbygenet.com/

      1. s
        sebastianxx Feb 22, 2007 03:31 PM

        Okay, finally headed to Meals by Genet tomorrow! (Gotta love those L.A. "scheduling conflicts") Looking to order the Lamb, the Dodorwat and the Alitcha... if there are other dishes not to be missed, I'd welcome your input; otherwise will definitely report back!

        3 Replies
        1. re: sebastianxx
          foodseeker Feb 22, 2007 03:48 PM

          Definitely get the veggie combo platter - that way you can sample lots of great dishes. Well worth it! I also really like the tofu tibs. . . just tried on my last visit, and it was excellent. but, I'd go for the combo for sure. So many great dishes to try. And, you can always order extra of the dishes you like.

          1. re: foodseeker
            s
            sebastianxx Feb 22, 2007 04:20 PM

            Thanks, will probably include the tofu as well, looks like there will be more of us so we'll definitely sample several dishes.

          2. re: sebastianxx
            Das Ubergeek Feb 22, 2007 03:55 PM

            Veggie combo platter.

          3. ttriche Feb 16, 2007 10:12 AM

            Meals by Genet is great! Get the doro wot for sure.

            1. d
              Diana Feb 16, 2007 08:55 AM

              I was not wild about Marathon...Me, I like Rahel..but I can do the veggie thing no problem. After Rahel, I'd say Messob...but I prefer Rahel

              11 Replies
              1. re: Diana
                westsidegal Feb 20, 2007 05:08 PM

                i LOVE LOVE LOVE rahel.
                rahel is on my regular lunch rotation. they serve an 'all you can eat' lunch special for about $7 that is NOT a buffet.
                their injera is the BEST imho, because it has the strongest teff flavor.
                their shiro (unfortunately not available with the lunch special) is the best.
                be sure to order some awazay to go with the food.

                1. re: westsidegal
                  d
                  Diana Feb 21, 2007 05:27 AM

                  Lunch special? I have been oodles of time and never seen it ont he menu. Tell me more.

                  Of course, Rahel is always willing to re-fill your trayand neglect to charge you for it. Also, she lets you byob and doesn't charge corkage!

                  1. re: Diana
                    westsidegal Feb 22, 2007 05:20 PM

                    the lunch special is a combo plate that includes:
                    messir wot
                    the yellow split pea dish
                    the spicy tomato salad
                    the collard greens
                    and
                    the potatos

                    it is served with their wonderful injera.
                    after you finish what's on your plate, they will be happy to refill any or all of the selections until you are full

                    1. re: westsidegal
                      d
                      Diana Feb 23, 2007 08:27 AM

                      Oh...yeah, she does that at dinner, too, if you ask Rahle herself for a little more of somethign.

                      1. re: Diana
                        westsidegal Feb 23, 2007 12:07 PM

                        another reason to LOVE that place.

                        1. re: westsidegal
                          a_and_w Mar 12, 2007 10:54 AM

                          Tried Rahel's. Food was tasty and fresh, and Rahel was as friendly as promised. But...everything was a bit bland. Dishes were nowhere near as spicy or salty as my favorite places in DC. Can anyone recommend a place in Ethiopia that's open for lunch and has a little more salt and spice in their food?

                          1. re: a_and_w
                            Das Ubergeek Mar 12, 2007 11:34 AM

                            I assume you meant "Little Ethiopia"... and you can always ask for them to amp up the spice. I like Meals By Genet best.

                            1. re: Das Ubergeek
                              a_and_w Mar 12, 2007 12:02 PM

                              Yep, Little Ethiopia -- whoops! Is Meals by Genet open for lunch?

                            2. re: a_and_w
                              l
                              ladelfa Mar 22, 2007 07:46 AM

                              I agree that Rahel's tends to under-salt their food. I'm trying to eat a lower-sodium diet, so this is actually a plus for me. Because of that (and also a totally cholesterol-free menu) Rahel's might be one of those places where you could eat every day without dying of congestive heart failure.

                              Having said all that, you should give Messob (three doors down) a shot. They don't hold back on the clarified butter, salt, or spice. Also, you can get tej there (Rahel's doesn't serve wine or beer), which makes it a good special-occasion place. It also might be the best joint on the block to take people who have never had this cuisine before; I took two such newbies to Messob last week and between the ambience and the food (and, yes, the honey wine) they were very impressed and we all left the restaurant very satisfied.

                    2. re: westsidegal
                      foodseeker Feb 21, 2007 06:55 AM

                      Hate to be so naive, but am really getting into Ethiopian food lately. . . . but don't know what shiro or awazay are. . .can you shed some light on this? Thanks!!

                      1. re: foodseeker
                        westsidegal Feb 22, 2007 05:22 PM

                        shiro is a delicious 'stew' made with ground garbanzo beans. unfortunately it is not served as part of their lunch special, it needs to be ordered separately.

                        awazay is a pepper slurry/paste that is served on the side as a condiment.

                  2. l
                    ladelfa Feb 16, 2007 08:42 AM

                    I may be the only one who feels this way, but I think Marathon has the best-tasting food on the Fairfax strip.

                    1. s
                      sebastianxx Feb 13, 2007 09:33 AM

                      Yum... looking forward to it, thanks for the help!

                      1. s
                        sebastianxx Feb 11, 2007 08:09 AM

                        Thanks everyone for all your suggestions! It seems that Meals by Genet is the winner, so I'll report back after our visit. Other than the vegetarian plate, is there a meat entree that stands out above the rest?

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: sebastianxx
                          hrhboo Feb 11, 2007 10:10 AM

                          My fave is the lamb stew (alitcha). When you order the veggie platter along with a protein, the meat is placed in the center of the platter surrounded by a dozen or so different vegetable preparations. If there are strict vegetarians in your group you might want to ask for it to be served separately.

                          1. re: hrhboo
                            Das Ubergeek Feb 12, 2007 12:26 PM

                            Yes, yes, yes! It's incredibly good.

                            1. re: Das Ubergeek
                              hrhboo Feb 13, 2007 09:37 AM

                              Oh my. I really need to start ordering other stuff but I just can't get past the lamb! The kitfo is incredible too.

                              1. re: hrhboo
                                therealbigtasty Mar 22, 2007 10:50 AM

                                KITFO RULES!!! I'M WRITING IN ALL CAPS BECAUSE I'M YELLING! THAT'S HOW MUCH I LOVE A GOOD KITFO! I'M PARTIAL TO THE ONE AT MERKATO BECAUSE IT HAS A GOOD SPICE AND CONSISTENCY, VERY SMOOTH AND TENDER!

                                Now I'll quietly say...

                        2. o
                          oro3030 Feb 10, 2007 02:37 PM

                          Meals by Genet. The food is a cut above the rest but it lacks the "African" decor the others have if that bothers you.

                          1. a
                            artfoodhistorianista Feb 10, 2007 02:32 PM

                            well...i have to say that when it comes to eating ethiopian food...i only dig AWASH on Pico blvd. just WEST of Fairfax on the South side of the street. This is family owned and operated...the inside looks like a "home" and everyone in there is either related or "extended family" don't be discouraged though because the servers are kind. This is THE ONE AND ONLY ethi restaurant i've been to in my life (or as far as i can remember) and i am part-ethi...I've only had food cooked in the home of friends/fam and i can say that the food at AWASH reflects homecooked ethi food. I have taken all my friends there...all with very distinct palates and they have all enjoyed it.

                            As far as the wait for food...well if you go to a restaurant and your food is served QUICKFIRE it ain't authentic...ethiopian food takes time to cook, so sit down have some tea or beer and engage with those you are dining with.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: artfoodhistorianista
                              e
                              ElissaInPlaya Feb 12, 2007 12:17 PM

                              Second Awash. I've tried several others. Be laid back about the service and "ambiance." Don't go for the wine.

                              1. re: artfoodhistorianista
                                WildSwede Feb 21, 2007 07:02 AM

                                One of the MDs here at work is Ethiopian (his wife is, too) and he told me that they only go to Awash (when his wife does not want to cook). I have not been yet.
                                I favor Merkato. Been to Messob and did not like it as much. Actually, I will be going to Merkato tonight - my mom's cousin from Norway is here and is going to have his first taste! All he wants to eat is "Norwegian" food when he gets here - how BORING! Boiled potatoes, fish, blah. Next week we are doing Mexican! We are doing everything we can to liven up his tastebuds!

                              2. g
                                glutton Feb 10, 2007 11:44 AM

                                There have been a couple recent long threads on exactly this topic. I stand by my favorite, Messob, for good food for newbies and veterans alike. Some have complained of slow service, but I have never once had that problem. I think it is much better than Nyala.

                                1. hrhboo Feb 10, 2007 10:19 AM

                                  Meals By Genet is my favourite.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: hrhboo
                                    SumYungGai Feb 10, 2007 09:06 PM

                                    I second the Meals by Genet suggestion.

                                    Make sure to get the vegetarian platter for you and your friends, which you can eat by itself or along with one of the meat dishes.

                                    1. re: SumYungGai
                                      Das Ubergeek Feb 12, 2007 12:25 PM

                                      Definitely Meals by Genet. Get the vegetarian platter and the lamb stew.

                                      1. re: Das Ubergeek
                                        Dommy Feb 20, 2007 09:29 AM

                                        I agree with the Lamb Stew! One word or warning, their menu is small and a bit more pricy than other places, but the serving sizes are VERY generous... especially with that stew... Yumm...

                                        --Dommy!

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