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Restaurant reviews in Tyson's and surrounding area... mostly

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Skyline Cafe - Ethiopian Cuisine in Falls Church (Bailey's Crossroads), VA

3821 S George Mason Drive
Falls Church, VA 22041
(703) 820-0240

This tiny restaurant is a place for the local Ethiopian community to enjoy their native food in a cozy, friendly and unpretentious atmoophere. The first thing you notice is a lively bar, usually full of discussion and laughter and several TV screens showing a soccer game going on somewhere in the world.  

Skyline Cafe has been operating for over 20 years at the same location in the Skyline Plaza strip that is an African enclave of eating, shopping and grooming establishments, flagged by a 7 Eleven. The speedbump-laden parking lot can hardly accommodate the busy traffic of customers in this strip, but wait for a few minutes and you will be lucky to park.

We have come to Skyline a handful of times and have seen clintele ranging from couples to families. The upbeat cheerfulness and hospitality of the new owner Samuel certainly translates to the staff and the clintele. 

We first discovered Skyline Cafe thanks to Groupon. We are huge fans of Meaza (Bailey's Crossroads) and Merkamo in Springfield.

The food in Skyline Cafe is great. We have ordered various items on the menu, trying something different each visit.  A great appetizer to begin your meal can be the Sambusa, which is a portion of two fried salty pastries filled with dark lentils and a tinge of heat. Another one that we really like is the Vegetarian Fit Fit made with pieces of injera bread soaked in awaze sauce mixed with jalapenos. The awaze sauce itself is spicy, so anything you order with it will translate into being spicy.

One of our favorite go-to combinations is the Vegetarian Sampler and one of the Tibs (grilled beef or lamb cubes) entrees offered on the menu, typically there are several to choose from.  The Vegetarian Sampler is always mild, and different Ethiopian restaurants may offer different veggies, but the staple is a variety of lentils and/or chick peas.  In Skyline Cafe the Veggie Sampler includes several types of lentils, cooked cabbage with carrots, a tomato salad (a la pico de gallo), spinach or collard greens, and other veggies.  As we are not lamb eaters, we typically order beef Tibs. Skyline's Tibs are usually of very good quality, they are lean and well-seasoned, and the kitchen is quite flexible on the level of spiciness you'd like for your Tibs, usually by varying the amount of jalapenos with which Tibs are grilled.

Samuel told us about the all-you-can-eat vegetarian buffet that Skyline Cafe offers Monday - Friday for $10.99 during lunch time (call to check, as they offer it only during Ethiopian holidays several times a year).  Even during buffet hours, Samuel assured us that ordering off the menu will always be an option.

Skyline Cafe is a hands-down gem. We will definitely be back and will be bringing our friends. 

(Updated in June 2015) 

 We try to avoid posting photos of diners, so the pictures show empty tables because we photographed in-between customers. Staff do a great job cleaning off tables quickly.

 Artwork by local Ethiopian kids

 Sambusas and Vegetarian Fit Fit

 Vegetarian Sampler FOR ONE and Beef Tibs with Tomato Salad

Vegetarian Sampler FOR TWO with Skyline Beef Tibs

All meals are better with a nice cold Ethopian beer

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