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Hawwi Ethiopian Cafe - N. Fayette and Queen Street in Old Town Alexandria in the Former Caboose Cafe Space

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Sis and I got back from our east coast road trip, where we enjoyed Maine lobster in Bar Harbor, amazing Italian in Boston, Ramen in NYC, and a good burger outside of Hartford, CT. We were starving last night and were having great trouble coming up with an idea for dinner. I was driving and told to put the smart phone down (good call, sis!) so she worked on finding a place. She said, "there's a place with a 5 star average in old town but it only has 44 reviews, it looks Ethiopian". It's not a large number, but still, that's impressive and she had never had Ethiopian.

So, before reading the rest, two points:
1) I don't really like Ethiopian food. Ive been to etete, dukem, zenebach, the fancy one on H, the one in Georgetown, eyo sports bar in Alexandria - probably ten total experiences. I liked Eyo best, didn't love the rest, and stopped going if I'm choosing.

2) I'm recovering from a terrible sinusitis and my taste wasn't perfect.

It's on a quiet street in old town, away from King St's hustle and hustle. I think it used to be Caboose? Anyway, we were the only customers and they invited us in. We ordered quick - sister got a side salad and I got lentil soup. Dressing was more like yogurt sauce like tzatziki and sister liked it. Lentil soup was hearty, tasted like ... yellow lentils. Spiced but not heavily and I liked it.

For our entrees we shared the lamb wot and the vegan sampler with injera and rice.

Here's my thing with with wot. I just really think Indian lamb curries are a better version of wot. I do, and it may be show my overall primitiveness with food or an insensitive palate, but it's my opinion. Anyway, there's was good- spiced nicely with hints of cinnamon which I'd never had in wot before. The vegan plate was red lentils, potatoes, greens, a small salad with onions and jalapeí±os, and something else that wasn't memorable.

We liked it. Small portion of lamb, even though it was most expensive thing on menu. Vegetables were good, but non lentils a little bland. For my sis, it has piqued her interest in Ethiopian, and for me, I'm going to give it another try.

I'm curious for someone with a better palate for Ethiopian food will think.

No booze here, btw, not sure if they are byob


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Went to Hawwi a few days ago, thanks to this thread, for lunch. The menu is a mix of Ethiopian (maybe 2/3) and Egyptian, as well as several interesting looking breakfast options.  We just had one of the combos and baklawa.  We _do_ like Ethiopian, and we really liked it, although it wasn't as spicy as we would have preferred.  The combo had doro wat, a couple of veggies (red lentils and greens), and a couple of beef dishes. I think it's better than any other Ethiopian we've tried close into that part of Alexandria (namely Caboose Cafe and Njera, or however it's spelled, on 23rd St in Crystal City), but maybe not as good as we recall places like Dukem, Etete, and Eyo from a few years ago, although it's been quite a while since we've had Ethiopian, because family taste/geography constraints.

There are also other interesting looking things on the menu, including some kinds of date and honey stuffed bread whose name I forget, and a range of middle eastern things (falafel, hummus, baba ganoush), and also koshari, that we'll try some day.

They were pretty empty (I guess that location also felled Cafe Nicole and the Caboose expansion), so I hope they manage to stay in business.

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Went there for lunch today and I thought the kitfo was outstanding. I enjoyed the spicing, but it also came with diced jalapeno and some ground red pepper which I sprinkled on for some added kick. So far, I've tried the kitfo at Abay Market, Meaza and Ethopic and I would declare Hawwi to be my favorite. Their injera was just slightly crispy on the edges which made for a nice texture. They take 30% off the bill for lunch (and it was clearly a dinner sized portion). I shall return.

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I took my two kids (8 & 6) to lunch at Hawwi yesterday and had such a delicious meal and wonderful overall experience, I knew immediately that I needed to do a post on this little gem. This was my second time visiting and both times were outstanding! I couldn't love this little family owned restaurant more. From the moment you walk in, you are treated with such warmth and genuine friendliness that you can't help but feel like an extended part of the family. I was glad to see a large group of 10 near the window, maybe an office outing? Other than that there were a couple of groups of two that came in and/or finished while we were there.  It definitely wasn't packed but I'm hoping as more and more people give it a try the business will pick up. 

My kids are pretty great about trying new restaurants with us but I'll be honest, they basically order a version of chicken kabobs and rice with any mango drink on the menu. I appreciated that the owner suggested that instead of two orders of chicken kabobs, we order one kabob and try an order of Kaywat, prime beef cubes in a red pepper sauce with spices, peas, green beans and injera. He even offered to make the sauce a bit more mild. As it turns out I think they would have been fine with the hotter sauce but he even separated the sliced jalapeños when the platter arrived. The boys downed the kabobs first and after hesitantly trying the kaywat, declared it "awesome." At one point my youngest even asked me to take it away from him because he was stuffed but couldn't make himself stop eating. I hear you son, I hear you! 

Both times I've been here, I order the Kitfo and both times it was outstanding! It comes with a side of greens that are delicious and I appreciated the two sauces and dried spice blend that accompanied the dish as well. My only complaint, is that its simply too much for one person to eat. I hated not finishing it but just couldn't. 

This is definitely worth a visit, whether you're in the neighborhood or not! And I love that its one more place that I can take my kids and hopefully broaden their palates. 


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