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I liked Little Ethiopia the moment I stepped into its subterranean space on 9th Street NW, in that section of Shaw known as, well, Little Ethiopia. I felt as if I had walked into a restaurant in the mother country itself. The long, narrow dining room was appointed not only with mesob wicker tables, but also replica gojo huts and Ethiopian artifacts. There was even a pair of musicians onstage plucking away on stringed instruments that I had never before seen in my life. Servers were approaching diners and pouring warm water over their hands in the traditional Ethiopian cleansing ceremony. Yes, I had fallen in love with the place, and I hadn’t eaten a thing. The food only intensified my affection. Little Ethiopia offers several different styles of kitfo; we opted for the “special” permutation with mitmita, gomen, and fresh cottage cheese. If I hadn’t ordered a number of other bites—a spicy lentil dish here, a cooling salad there—I might have eaten that whole pile of raw, fiery beef by myself.

1924 9th St. NW (202) 319-1924