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Manna Bistro, Centreville - Ethiopian Bistro with Traditional Fare and Fresh-Baked Pastries in Centreville Square Shopping Center

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Did you know there was an ethiopian restaraurant in Centreville?  Neither did I.  I was running errands with the boys a week ago when I decided to run into this place to get a menu.  They had no carryout menus so I reviewed one of the normal ones, hoping that my 2 and 5 year olds wouldn't trash the place.

On a lark I decided to get one of their combo meals, as I have never had ethiopian before.  I'm no authority but my wife and I enjoyed everything.

Here is where it is important to take note.  They are also a bakery.  I spoke with the owner and she takes pride in the deserts they make in house.  I've been back twice, just for deserts, workign my way through their selections.  The cheesecake and carrot cake were the stars.

It is located in the same strip of mall as Bon Chon.  Here is their site: mannabistro.com. It is fairly well hidden so I wanted to be sure to write them up because I think it is worth checking them out.  Someone else can tell me how their other food rates, but their deserts are good (and reasonably priced).

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We were heading out to Centreville to run an errand last night and decided to give Manna a shot. We were the only table at 7:15 in the back of the bistro and we ordered the vegetarian sampler, an order of shiro, and beef tibbs. The veggies were innocuous enough. The "new" dish of a chickpea concoction that they were trying out was not good. Very dry, mealy, and reminded me of mashed potatoes sans cream and butter. The rest were standard fare. The red lentils were the standout. The beef tibbs was fairly tough, despite being touted as tender on the menu. It was loaded with jalapenos and spices and flavorful, just chewy. The shiro was a bit runnier than I've had before. The shells on the sambusas were very thick and the contents a bit dried out and skimpy.

The service was very friendly, albeit a little slow. Our total came to $41 before tip. We could have probably eaten for half that (Their combos for two are a good deal), but we wanted to try the shiro and the tibbs, both of which are excluded when picking the items for your combo.

The odd thing was their "specials" - all tacos, tortas, and empanadas on a chalkboard in the front. The front of the bistro had four tables of rowdy individuals who were slugging back south american beer (one table had at least 15 empties on it for 2 people). This was very out of place for the rest of the menu and bistro. It felt a little like we were in one of those dicey Manassas joints rather than a mom and pop restaurant.

The food won't have me racing back, Maaza 29 in Gainesville is better for us in the far out burbs. The owner was very sweet and I'm likely to try their baked goods if I'm back in the area again

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