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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Casual restaurant

Daily 11:00am–1:00am

Features Live music, outdoor dining, veg-friendly, Wi-Fi
Bar Beer, wine, liquor
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Accepted


1942 9th St. NW
Washington, DC
(202) 232-7600
This high-flying little Ethiopian place deserves top marks

Etete has made the most of its narrow space in a shotgun rowhouse between U Street and Shaw. Polished wood tables line each side of a skinny aisle, which a waitress paces with extreme poise—as if on an airplane—to deliver huge round platters of injera and steaming meats to each of the eight or so tables. The bay window offers prime seating with an elevated platform, wrap-around bench, and woven-basket table. You’ll have to place your drink on the windowsill, but no matter.

And the squeeze is worthwhile: Etete offers one of the best Ethiopian meals in town. In fact, the tight space lends itself to service that is warm and never clumsy: the waitress remembers and greets even infrequent customers, and leads them almost intuitively to the table they occupied on their last visit. The drink service is very rapid, and Etete has a wine list that, if short, is thoughtfully composed and features reasonably priced bottles. The food, luckily, does not lag too far behind the drinks.

The quality of Etete’s injera distinguishes the restaurant from its neighborhood competitors: the bread is soft, stretchy, and a bit lemony, and is probably the tangiest we’ve tasted on this strip of Ethiopian restaurants. And when the injera is paired with the spicy meats, the resulting combination is remarkable. One of Etete’s specialties is the derek tibs: spicy beef cooked with tomatoes in a rich sauce that takes like fresh creamed butter.

Etete is also one of the better places for vegetarians, with a number of main-course-sized non-meat options, as well as a full “Fastening Plate” which includes a selection of the vegetable dishes, with or without fish. Gomen is a combination of softened vegetables in large chunks—green beans, potatoes, and carrots—which are cooked in a ginger-tomato sauce. The lentil dishes are also excellent, with plenty of red pepper and an integrated taste and texture to match.

If you’re in search of late night dining or drinking, Etete is open until 2am, although the kitchen closes at 1. Be safe and order those tibs early. Then sit back, relax, and enjoy the night.

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