Ethiopian fare wasn’t on my radar until about two years ago. I was pregnant, hungry and feeling adventurous. We ended up at Meals by Genet and it was a great decision. Since that day, Adam, Theo and I have become regulars in Little Ethiopia, a small stretch of street on Fairfax between Olympic and Whitworth.
Ethiopian food is surprisingly (or maybe not surprisingly) a great place to take your toddler; it’s super nutrient dense, with tons of vegetables, lentils and bean combinations. And it’s all pretty much stuff they can eat without you having to chop it up into a million tiny pieces when you really just want to start eating your food. They also do lots of stews (wats), that are very flavorful and spicy, just ask your sever which dishes they can tone down. Everything is served on a round communal platter over injera bread, a spongey flatbread with a slightly sour flavor. You eat with your hands, using the injera to grab the food. You guys, my son is really good at eating with his hands.
We landed at Lalibela on Valentines for the early bird special. This place has a small outdoor patio, which is great for a toddler that likes to get chatty at a loud volume. Theo shoveled injera into his face while calling out all of the passing cars, trucks and buses. It was romantic. Heh. Though it was actually pretty darn sweet and the veggie plate and awaze tibs were on point. BYOB so don’t forget your beverage of choice! This place also does a delicious breakfast.
Merkato Ethiopian Restaurant & Market transports you to Ethiopia upon arrival. Or at least I feel like it does. I really I have no idea because I’ve never been to Ethiopia. What I DO know is that it’s good. We ordered our go-to, the veggie plate, served with five items on top of injera. The place is a twofer, you get the restaurant and then go next door to the market. This is convenient because we’ve been making a red lentil dish at home with their berbere. It’s also the spot for late night eats, staying open until 2am. In a city where it’s impossible to get a decent meal past 9:30pm, this is a big deal. We haven’t seen that hour in a while though.
Meals by Genet is probably the most well known Ethiopian restaurant in LA and also the gold standard on the street. And rightfully so, it’s consistently great food and probably my favorite. They’re only open four nights a week, and they’re always busy; so make a reservation at this one. Genet is a great spot for a date or a girls night. But sometimes, at 5:30pm right when they open, Theo and I try to sneak in before their reservations begin. If you’ve never had their doro wat, it’s a must order. Other favorites are the tofu tibs, chicken tibs, and of course, the veggie plate.
Next time you want to eat with your hands, put down your calzone and head over to Little Ethiopia. Tell them Theo sent you. You’re welcome.