The area’s biggest Ethiopian restaurant — Meaza can seat 350 diners — also ranks as one of its best. Ask for the vegetarian sampler (and you should), and out comes a shield-size platter lined with injera, a canvas for chopped tomatoes jolted by jalapenos, an electric slaw, garlicky collard greens and dabs of yellow and red lentils, both delicious. Meatier: kitfo, Ethiopia’s version of steak tartare, only hotter (with mitmita, stoked with chili pepper) and more fragrant (thanks to cardamom and koseret, an Ethiopian herb). The menu’s sleeper is preceded by a yield sign from the server. “It’s spicy,” she says of the sauteed red snapper shredded into a warm and zesty salad zapped with garlic, jalapeños and mitmita.
Animal skins painted with Ethiopian royalty lend a faraway touch to the room; tiered seating, movable walls and a dance floor speak to Meaza’s appeal as a party destination. The service moves in and out of focus, and a few dishes are met with a yawn. Lamb tibs, for instance, is boring and tough.
Insider tip: The adjoining bakery is the source of most of Meaza’s injera, the slightly sour pancake that cradles the food, including one style made completely with the costly grain teff. But the restaurant now also offers injera flown in daily from Ethiopia.