Owners Samuel Ergete and Meseret Bekele opened Ethiopic five years ago when they couldn’t find an Ethiopian restaurant that met their expectations for service and food. Almost overnight, the source for African stews and salads served on the tangy crepe called injera became Washington’s most reliable spot for doro wat (a complex chicken stew), kitfo (ground raw beef splashed with spiced butter) and one of my favorite vegetarian dishes, chickpeas mashed to look like scrambled eggs and shot through with vinegar and jalapeño.
Adding to the allure was a room dressed with columns painted with the Amharic alphabet and an unlikely location on H Street NE, when Shaw was where so much of the action awaited. Flash forward to the present. Ethiopic is still easy on the eyes, and welcoming. Its vegetarian sampler, including great garlicky collard greens, remains an edible kaleidoscope. But on my last visit, the injera shot blanks, the kitfo was muzzled and my go-to chickpeas tasted dry where they used to be moist.
I won’t abandon a place that has fed me so winningly over its years, but if someone were to ask me where to go for Ethiopian this minute, I’d send them to Silver Spring — the new Little Ethiopia — and Bete, a storefront where the kitfo, among other pleasures, comes out kicking.
→ 401 H St. NE. 202-675-2066. www.ethiopicrestaurant.com. Open: Lunch Friday through Sunday, dinner Tuesday through Sunday.
Prices: Lunch entrees $14 to $27, dinner entrees $17 to $35.
Sound check: 60 decibels / Conversation is easy.