Falls Church, VA
If there is a go-to Ethiopian restaurant for us, undoubtedly it's Meaza. We first reviewed it back in 2011, but since then we've been there so many times that we are updating our review. We said in our last blog that we had "one terrific meal" at Meaza, but in reality we've had several dozen terrific meals there.
According to the absolutely lovely and hospitable owner for whom Meaza is named, this is the largest Ethiopian restaurant outside Ethiopia. Two large dining halls (one usually reserved for private banquets or evenings with a need for extra need for dining space) are filled with cheerful diners during typical meal times. There are the "regulars," both Ethiopians and non-Ethiopians, as well as a rather consistent stream of "newbies" to Ethiopian cuisine. Dress style of clinetelle ranges from the typical "ethnic dive attire" to beautiful colorful dresses. We particularly enjoy watching the newbies' reactions when the large plate arrives to be filled by the waitress spooning out entrees of freshly made sizzling meats and delicious veggies from kettles, to be shared by everyone at the table. The only utensils at the table are one's own clean bare fingers, using the injera bread to scoop up the delicious food.
We go well-done on the meats, which is probably not authentic, but is more suitable to our palates than the traditional raw Kitfo (ground beef or lamb). We order our Kitfo well-done, or, on most occasions we go for one of the beef Tibs choices, usually it's the house specialty Meaza Tibs. Because the Meaza tibs are not very spicy, we usually request that our Kitfo to be made on the spicier side, to complement one another, since one of us likes spicy food and the other one does not. Kitfo is served with a wonderful side of white slightly salted grated cheese, which gives the meal a great flavor and a great texture. While the meats are offered with one side order of veggies, we usually add the Vegetarian Sampler to our order to have a larger selection (and also plenty leftovers to take home!). This gave us a wonderful array of choices like several types of lentils, cole slaw, potatoes, carrots, spinach and other small samples to make each bite different and delicious. A great choice also, if you're up for it, is the veggie sampler with the option to include a whole Fried Fish! The fish comes out on the tray with its head intact (you may want to ask that the head be removed in the kitchen), but it's one flaky, tender and delicious option that you can choose, although it makes the meal a bit more filling.
A perfect addition of several glasses of red wine and cold Perrier and we were good to go. Wonderful service by Genet made our meal extra special! But all the wait staff are wonderful.
We say "amasat ganalo" (thank you very much) every time we finish our meal because it's truly a gastronomical feast.
It's no wonder that Meaza is a winner of numerous awards, including "Best Restaurant" rated by Northern Virginia Magazine and "Best Bargain Restaurant" rated by Washingtonian Magazine.
Note to the frugal budget diners: Although Meaza is certainly a bargain restaurant, they regularly offer a Groupon for half off. Get the Groupon and order double!
(Updated June 2015)
(Updated June 2015)