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Meaza, Ethiopian in Bailey's Crossroads


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Went to Meaza on Columbia Pike. It was my first visit, and the restaurant was recommended by an Ethiopian friend after I told him we had OK food (good but not great) at Skyline Cafe. He told us that it is fasting time now so vegetarian food will be plentiful and good. We got the vegetarian sampler (they were out of sambussas), and it was very good. We particularly liked the lentils spiced with bere bere (hot enough to make your nose run, but not hot enough to make you cry) and the cabbage spiced with a delicious turmeric blend. We walked to the grocery that is attached to the restaurant and found all the spice blends, but they were mysteriously labeled with "Miscellaneous" so I don't know what was in the cabbage, but I am guessing from the color. The injera was the best I have ever had. Soft, thick, wonderfully flavored. I was sorely tempted to buy a big bag of it in the grocery. The bags were still damp from steam, it was so fresh.

We went to Meaza for dinner Saturday night. We ordered the special vegetarian sampler, and the lentils and the cabbage were also my favorite. There was also an injera/tomato/jalepeno salad that was very good. The collard greens were bitter though. The sampler also included split peas, something like cole slaw, and another dish. They were out of sambusas again too. Another table got what reminded me of fajitas - meat that came sizzling on a hot plate. I was wondering what that was.

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Hmmmm. I didn't know it had been closed. I recommended Meaza to a friend who took a date last week, also had the vegetarian sampler, and was also quite pleased with the meal. So it seems to be open and doing well!

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We ate at Meaza and hubby said his meat was very gristly and hard to chew my lamb was a bit more tender. The food was over-spiced (not SPICY but too many types of spices and a medium amount of spice) and the meat was a bit off (the spice hid it a bit)...The place was lovely, the atmosphere mixed the service was spotty, one table who came after us got served before us but our waitress was very nice. The bread was good to me but hubby felt it was too gummy. Unforunately my stomach got quite upset all night after we ate here so I'm hoping it was a coincidence. (Yes there were Jalapeno's in the food so who knows.)

Anyhow, I was really hoping that I'd find a nice and different place on this side of DC but we will not be going back.

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We had a lovely $20 Tuesday meeting at Meaza tonight. Four of us ordered:

7. Liyu Ye Tsom Wot (Special Vegi combo)

8. Ye Tsom Migib Ke Asa Gar (Vegetarian combo with fish)

15. Kitfo (Regular Kitfo) (raw)

31. Ye Beg Awaze Tibs (Lamb Awaze Tibs)

Without exception, everything was very good. The fish was slightly overcooked, but had an excellent flavor. The Kitfo was amongst the best I've had. I thought the spicy dishes could have had a bit more heat, but a minor complaint.

Total after tax and tip was $16/person, and we left stuffed (and left food on the plate). I haven't been downtown for Ethiopian in a year, so it's hard to make a direct comparison, but I think Meaza is only very slightly behind Queen Makeda and Etete.

One odd note: on the check, the two Sam Adams we ordered seemed to have been rung up at $1.25 each. I think I was in college at quarter beer night the last time I got a beer in a restaurant/bar so cheap...

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Another savory meal at Meaza the other night. Shared the special kitfo (raw) and regular vegetarian combo. The kitfo was "special" because it included onion and green pepper. The vegetarian combo included cabbage, spicy red lentils, yellow lentils, a tomato/jalapeno salad (sometimes this is collard greens instead). All delicious, all bargain-priced.

A couple of tips about eating here:

*The bar in the back offers a fantastic place for solo dining.

*A lot of Ethiopian families dine here, which often means children. If you are anti little-people babble, you may want to sit outside or in the bar area.

*Unless you are positively hard core, don't go with the raw kitfo. Even though the raw preparation is ridiculously delicious, a righteous lecture from some friends at the FDA coupled with my most recent experience will have me ordering it cooked medium in the future. These are all personal choices, your GI tract mileage may vary.

*If you are eating kitfo for the first time, make sure you pinch it between the injera bread, pinch up a bit of the lab cheese, and dip that into a bit of the mitmita spice. This combination will knock you out of your chair with n0m.

*Maeza's standard injera is more wheat-based than teff-based. Ask to try the "brown bread" to see if you like it. With a much higher proportion of teff, you may also find it more distinguished, nutty, and interesting.

*Make sure you try the tea. In fact, leave yourself time to visit the adjacent market to buy the green cardamom, cinnamon, and clove mixture to spice up your own tea at home.

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My girlfriend and I had a late lunch here yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed it. While not the absolute best Ethiopian I've had in the area, it was certainly very good. We ordered the spiced tea which could have been a bit more spiced, but was warming on a cold rainy day. We ordered the special vegetarian platter which consisted of lentils, potatoes, the tomato injera salad (very good), yellow split peas, shiro, collards, and the cabbage salad. We asked for a lamb dish described as "spicy tasty" and the owner/hostess came over to clarify that the lamb wouldn't be spicy, but well spiced and asked me if that was what I really wanted. I clarified that I wanted a berbere spiced dish and she found one in the beef section and said they would make it with lamb for us.

Service was okay by the waitress, but nothing special (really not much needed for Ethiopian food anyway). Our food was very good and my girlfriend, who has never had Ethiopian before, really liked the flavors, although wasn't exactly sure about the injera.

We were the only anglo couple in there and quite an oddity it seemed. Everyone was sneaking looks at us to see if we really were enjoying the meal. There were oodles of kids, it being Veterans Day, but it is a big enough place and we were seated in the slightly elevated section, so it didn't bother us at all. I like the whole family goes out to eat thing, anyway.

Worth a shot and very reasonable.

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Joined friends here tonight for dinner. We each got a sambussa, then shared the special vegi platter and the doro wat. It was my first time having Ethiopian food, and I didn't taste anything that I particularly liked, and the yellow lentils on the vegi platter were something I hope I never taste again. The teff injera was the best part of the meal. Nice setting, pleasant wait staff, and I like the communal platter and eat with your hands.....but not the food. It's just not my thing.

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Why? This is usually benign at the minimum; often very tasty.

"Pre-chewed food on a sour sponge," my friend once called Ethiopian.

To me, the lentils tasted sour and fermented and musty all at the same time. If I detected that taste in a bowl of leftovers in my fridge, I'd immediately toss it as something that had gone off.

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I was there a month ago with a friend of mine. Had a "veggie sampler" with beef with berbere sauce. Really underwhelmed. Beef very chewy. Don't need to go back here again.

The well done beef tibs this evening were indeed the weak link, but everything else was at least good, including the veggie sampler. As I noted in the dining guide, the raw kitfo (spicy) was wonderful, the injera is available with teff (something that is happily becoming more common in the DC area of late), and St George (at a refreshingly low 4.5% alcohol) is an underrated lager, albeit a bit pricey at $6. I'm not saying Meaza is mind-blowing; merely that I had it rated way too low - it's a very solid Ethiopian restaurant.

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The well done beef tibs this evening were indeed the weak link, but everything else was at least good, including the veggie sampler. As I noted in the dining guide, the raw kitfo (spicy) was wonderful, the injera is available with teff (something that is happily becoming more common in the DC area of late), and St George (at a refreshingly low 4.5% alcohol) is an underrated lager, albeit a bit pricey at $6. I'm not saying Meaza is mind-blowing; merely that I had it rated way too low - it's a very solid Ethiopian restaurant.

Could someone recommend a couple of not too spicy vegetarian entrees?

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Could someone recommend a couple of not too spicy vegetarian entrees?

For sure:

Ye Tsom Wot' (lettuce, peas, cabbage, collards, tomatoes)

Ater Kiki (yellow peas stew)

Gomen (collard greens)

Possibly:

Shiro Bedist (clay-pot peas, watch the jalapeño, and double-check the probable typo "powered peas")

At the risk of simplicity, ask your server to recommend something that fits your criteria - they get requests like this all the time, and are only too happy to make sure the guests get just what will make them happy (and when I say "they," I mean Ethiopian restaurants in general).

"We'd like a vegetarian dinner, and we don't want anything too spicy." She'll (I'm riskily stereotyping here) start pointing to things.

Make sure to request the injera made with real teff - it makes a difference. Also, with vegetable entrees, I find two per person to be ideal (so if you have three people, get six). There's never enough, and if you over-order, just go lighter on the injera. Salads are nice when they're free, but aren't worth taking up a precious entree slot for.

I drove past here last week, and really wanted to come again. It's good (and huge). I haven't had dinner this evening (because of a mammoth carne asada at Teo's), and wish I was having this right now instead of this lovely little makeshift sandwich I created from a Teo's tortilla folded over Ba Le spiced beef jerky. Think it sounds wrong? It isn't; it's good!

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