Best Ethiopian Restaurant: Nyala Ethiopian Restaurant
Earth tones, tribal art and African music set the scene at this Little Ethiopia mainstay. Ethiopian cuisine centers on colorful, complex stews (called wots), finely chopped salads and saucy vegetables. Though utensils are available, the authentic way to enjoy this fare is by scooping it up in traditional injera bread — a delicately sour staple rather similar to a pancake. Complete your exotic escape with a smooth honey wine or frosty Hakim beer.
"In Fairfax’s Little Ethiopia district, you'll find an array of restaurants, but Nyala is the crown jewel of them all."
Mobil Travel Guide
"One of the mainstays of a distinctive restaurant row on a stretch of Fairfax dubbed "Little Ethiopia," Nyala provides an excellent introduction to the aromatic, warmly-spiced home-style cooking ... "
''... Part of Fairfax Avenue's remarkable Ethiopian restaurant row, Nyala -- named after a sleek gazelle-like mammal -- represents one of the best bargains on the street. Gracious servers in this comfortable atmosphere are happy to assist the uninitiated with their selections. Rust-colored walls are enhanced with African art, red booths accommodate tables dressed in ivory cloths and a bar sits in the rear. Large dried floral arrangements and traditional Ethiopian basket-weave tables are added for accent, while tautly spread ovals of fabric hang from the ceiling in one corner near the bar"...
There are no fewer than four Ethiopian eateries along two compact blocks of Fairfax, but our favorite is Nyala; it's one of the largest and still the most popular. In a mellow setting -- all earthen colors, tribal prints, and African music -- an ethnically mixed crowd finds common ground in the expertly spiced (smoldering rather than fiery) cuisine. For the uninitiated, Ethiopian food is a mosaic of chopped salads, chunky stews, and saucy vegetables, all served on a colorful enamel platter for communal enjoyment. There are no utensils, merely a basket of injera, the thick, sour, plate-size pancake that triples as utensil, plate, and bread. Choices range from hearty chicken or lamb chunks stewed with tomatoes and onions to a parade of vegetarian choices (lentils, chickpeas, greens), each with a distinctive marinade. African beers and honey wine are perfect accompaniments. Tip: The daily lunch buffet is a great deal.