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A platter of colorful Ethiopian stews on injera bread.
Veduba wat (center of the platter) is made with banana squash and seasoned with berbere from Rahel Ethiopian Vegan Cuisine
Wonho Frank Lee

11 Essential Restaurants Around Los Angeles’s Little Ethiopia

Sour injera, strong coffee, and all-vegan fare

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Veduba wat (center of the platter) is made with banana squash and seasoned with berbere from Rahel Ethiopian Vegan Cuisine
| Wonho Frank Lee

For nearly 30 years now, the stretch of Fairfax Avenue between Olympic and Whitworth has been home to Little Ethiopia, the second-largest concentration of Ethiopian emigres in the United States after Washington, D.C. And though the neighborhood has gone through changes over the decades, it remains a vibrant cultural center with an annual street festival, a host of art galleries, antique shops, and a rich dining scene.

Naturally, most of the restaurants in this neighborhood serve traditional Ethiopian cuisine — spicy stews, fragrant lentil and split pea dishes, and tangy injera — but even that is beginning to evolve. From a soulful take on Ethiopian home-cooking that received a nod from the Michelin Guide, to a completely vegan Ethiopian restaurant, to a modern take on old school Italian food, here are 11 must-visit restaurants in Little Ethiopia. And here’s a rundown of six spicy dishes to try in Little Ethiopia.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Awash

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5990 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90035
(323) 939-3233

While technically a few blocks from the official neighborhood borders, Awash is a heavy-hitter of Ethiopian cuisine. Beef is the specialty here, whether raw as kifto smothered in chile and butter, or sauteed with onion and garlic as tibs. The space is rather tight and nearly always busy, so grab a drink at the back bar and save room for some traditional honey wine with your meal.  

2. Meals By Genet

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1053 S Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90019
(323) 938-9304
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A perennial favorite in Little Ethiopia, chef Genet Agonafer has had heaps of praise bestowed on her 20 year old restaurant: Michelin Bib Gourmand, James Beard Award semi-finalist, and numerous other local accolades. The spicy doro wat is a popular order here, while the vegetarian combination is a great way to sample Agonafer’s range. The crisp white-tablecloth interiors are now reserved solely for private events as the toll of the pandemic paired with chef Agonafer’s focus on grandparenting resulted in a recent announcement that the restaurant would transition to take-out only.

3. Messob Ethiopian Restaurant

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1041 S Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90019
(323) 938-8827
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Named for the traditional Ethiopian bread basket that doubles as a table, Messob arguably created modern Little Ethiopia when the original owner, Rahel Woldmedhin, opened it in 1985. Today, Messob remains a staple of the neighborhood, and a classic date spot where couples engage in gushra — hand-feeding your partner in a loving gesture. For those looking to try a range of entrees, the super Messob exclusive offers nine samples of entrees including the split lentil Yemisir Wot and the sautéed beef Zelzel Tibs.

4. Rahel Ethiopian Vegan Cuisine

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1047 S Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90019
(323) 937-8401
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After first opening Messob over three decades ago, Rahel Woldmedhin left in 2000 to start her namesake restaurant, which serves a fully vegan menu. Find a gluten-free version of injera, a fava bean ful, and various stews based on lentils, zucchini, and mixed vegetables. The full Ethiopian coffee ceremony is a special treat.

5. Lalibela

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1025 S Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90019
(323) 965-1025
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Before opening Lalibela in 2016, chef/owner Tenagne Belachew spent time in the neighboring kitchens of Rahel’s and the now-closed Marathon. At Lalibela, Belachew serves up her own versions of doro wat, Somali kifti, and more, along with a breakfast menu that includes genfo, the deeply comforting wheat porridge spiced with cardamom.  

6. Annie's Soul Delicious

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1066 S Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90019
(323) 424-7402
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Annalisa Mastroianni has been serving up her delicious cooking food for some 20 years now through her catering company Annie’s Edibles. In 2018, she began holding pop-ups of Annie’s Edibles inside her Fairfax s’mores shop Gotta Have S’More—ultimately replacing the dessert concept with Annie’s Soul Delicious. The soul food heaven has quickly become a local favorite, serving up juicy oxtail, braised short-ribs, and Hennessy Wings (party wings tossed in housemade Hennessy sauce). In-store seating is limited at the moment, but delivery is available through all major apps.

7. Paper or Plastik Cafe

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5772 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90019
(323) 935-0268
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For over a decade now, Paper or Plastik has been a singular destination in LA: part dance studio, part cafe/restaurant, with a retail section to boot. The espresso bar rotates a selection of beans from the likes of Coava and Black Oak, while the kitchen serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner fare including a smoked salmon and avocado tartine, lentil soup, and chicken schnitzel. Performances and dance classes are scheduled to return this summer.

Outside of Paper or Plastik
Outside of Paper or Plastik
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8. Flavors from Afar

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1046 S Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90019
(323) 879-9778
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Meymuna Hussein-Cattan and Christian Davis co-founded Flavors From Afar as a social enterprise to support the Tiyya Foundation (a portion of all sales goes to the foundation). Each month the restaurant highlights the cooking of a different refugee who they employ from Tiyya. Past menus have featured Somali, Eritrean, Guatemalan, and Afghani cuisines. Meanwhile, a “classics” menu features Egyptian gravy smothered lamb and Kenyan pan fried tilapia among other favorites.

9. Rosalind's

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1044 S Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90019
(323) 936-2486
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Don’t let the faux-thatched roofs and kitschy decor of Rosalind’s fool you — the traditional Ethopian food here is solid. The flaky pastry sambussa is a specialty of the house, while the fish tibs is a real eye-catcher. The fully-stocked bar serves various Ethiopian beers like Meta and St. George. 

An Ethiopian feast at Rosalind’s Restaurant.
An Ethiopian feast at Rosalind’s Restaurant
Wonho Frank Lee

10. Merkato

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1036 1/2 S Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90019
(323) 935-1775

Merkato lives up to its name, operating as both a restaurant and specialty foods market. The vegetarian combo and staples like awaze tibs or yebeg alicha are the way to go, while the wall decor and umbrellas hanging from the ceiling add charm to the experience. The adjoining market is stocked with spices, incense, fresh injera, and Ethiopian soap.   

Ethiopian gored gored from Merkato in Los Angeles.
Ethiopian gored gored from Merkato
Wonho Frank Lee

11. Buna Ethiopian Restaurant & Market

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1034 S Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90019
(323) 964-9731
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Coffee (or buna) has a rich history in Ethiopian culture. The coffee plant is native to Ethiopia, and the drink brewed from its berries is accompanied with its own customs. Buna maintains this culture with regular coffee tastings, traditional Ethiopian coffee, and an espresso bar with a full menu. 

A bowl filled with awaze tibs with injera on the side.
Awaze tibs with injera at Buna
Wonho Frank Lee

1. Awash

5990 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035

While technically a few blocks from the official neighborhood borders, Awash is a heavy-hitter of Ethiopian cuisine. Beef is the specialty here, whether raw as kifto smothered in chile and butter, or sauteed with onion and garlic as tibs. The space is rather tight and nearly always busy, so grab a drink at the back bar and save room for some traditional honey wine with your meal.  

5990 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90035

2. Meals By Genet

1053 S Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90019

A perennial favorite in Little Ethiopia, chef Genet Agonafer has had heaps of praise bestowed on her 20 year old restaurant: Michelin Bib Gourmand, James Beard Award semi-finalist, and numerous other local accolades. The spicy doro wat is a popular order here, while the vegetarian combination is a great way to sample Agonafer’s range. The crisp white-tablecloth interiors are now reserved solely for private events as the toll of the pandemic paired with chef Agonafer’s focus on grandparenting resulted in a recent announcement that the restaurant would transition to take-out only.

1053 S Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90019

3. Messob Ethiopian Restaurant

1041 S Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90019

Named for the traditional Ethiopian bread basket that doubles as a table, Messob arguably created modern Little Ethiopia when the original owner, Rahel Woldmedhin, opened it in 1985. Today, Messob remains a staple of the neighborhood, and a classic date spot where couples engage in gushra — hand-feeding your partner in a loving gesture. For those looking to try a range of entrees, the super Messob exclusive offers nine samples of entrees including the split lentil Yemisir Wot and the sautéed beef Zelzel Tibs.

1041 S Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90019

4. Rahel Ethiopian Vegan Cuisine

1047 S Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90019

After first opening Messob over three decades ago, Rahel Woldmedhin left in 2000 to start her namesake restaurant, which serves a fully vegan menu. Find a gluten-free version of injera, a fava bean ful, and various stews based on lentils, zucchini, and mixed vegetables. The full Ethiopian coffee ceremony is a special treat.

1047 S Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90019

5. Lalibela

1025 S Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90019

Before opening Lalibela in 2016, chef/owner Tenagne Belachew spent time in the neighboring kitchens of Rahel’s and the now-closed Marathon. At Lalibela, Belachew serves up her own versions of doro wat, Somali kifti, and more, along with a breakfast menu that includes genfo, the deeply comforting wheat porridge spiced with cardamom.  

1025 S Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90019

6. Annie's Soul Delicious

1066 S Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90019

Annalisa Mastroianni has been serving up her delicious cooking food for some 20 years now through her catering company Annie’s Edibles. In 2018, she began holding pop-ups of Annie’s Edibles inside her Fairfax s’mores shop Gotta Have S’More—ultimately replacing the dessert concept with Annie’s Soul Delicious. The soul food heaven has quickly become a local favorite, serving up juicy oxtail, braised short-ribs, and Hennessy Wings (party wings tossed in housemade Hennessy sauce). In-store seating is limited at the moment, but delivery is available through all major apps.

1066 S Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90019

7. Paper or Plastik Cafe

5772 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019
Outside of Paper or Plastik
Outside of Paper or Plastik
Facebook

For over a decade now, Paper or Plastik has been a singular destination in LA: part dance studio, part cafe/restaurant, with a retail section to boot. The espresso bar rotates a selection of beans from the likes of Coava and Black Oak, while the kitchen serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner fare including a smoked salmon and avocado tartine, lentil soup, and chicken schnitzel. Performances and dance classes are scheduled to return this summer.

5772 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90019

8. Flavors from Afar

1046 S Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90019

Meymuna Hussein-Cattan and Christian Davis co-founded Flavors From Afar as a social enterprise to support the Tiyya Foundation (a portion of all sales goes to the foundation). Each month the restaurant highlights the cooking of a different refugee who they employ from Tiyya. Past menus have featured Somali, Eritrean, Guatemalan, and Afghani cuisines. Meanwhile, a “classics” menu features Egyptian gravy smothered lamb and Kenyan pan fried tilapia among other favorites.

1046 S Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90019

9. Rosalind's

1044 S Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90019
An Ethiopian feast at Rosalind’s Restaurant.
An Ethiopian feast at Rosalind’s Restaurant
Wonho Frank Lee

Don’t let the faux-thatched roofs and kitschy decor of Rosalind’s fool you — the traditional Ethopian food here is solid. The flaky pastry sambussa is a specialty of the house, while the fish tibs is a real eye-catcher. The fully-stocked bar serves various Ethiopian beers like Meta and St. George. 

1044 S Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90019

10. Merkato

1036 1/2 S Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90019
Ethiopian gored gored from Merkato in Los Angeles.
Ethiopian gored gored from Merkato
Wonho Frank Lee

Merkato lives up to its name, operating as both a restaurant and specialty foods market. The vegetarian combo and staples like awaze tibs or yebeg alicha are the way to go, while the wall decor and umbrellas hanging from the ceiling add charm to the experience. The adjoining market is stocked with spices, incense, fresh injera, and Ethiopian soap.   

1036 1/2 S Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90019

11. Buna Ethiopian Restaurant & Market

1034 S Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90019
A bowl filled with awaze tibs with injera on the side.
Awaze tibs with injera at Buna
Wonho Frank Lee

Coffee (or buna) has a rich history in Ethiopian culture. The coffee plant is native to Ethiopia, and the drink brewed from its berries is accompanied with its own customs. Buna maintains this culture with regular coffee tastings, traditional Ethiopian coffee, and an espresso bar with a full menu. 

1034 S Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90019

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