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The Early Word On Letena

“Better than any Ethiopian food I've ever had in this city”

Fast-casual Ethiopian join Letena opened its doors Oct. 19 in Columbia Heights.

The wifi-accessible space is split up into two areas: a coffee bar and restaurant. The 20-seat java component offers teas, pastries, and coffees made from freshly-roasted Ethiopian beans. The 30-seat dining room is a bit more refined, with dishes served injera style in traditional fashion or wrapped with bread or rice for those using utensils.

Locally-sourced dishes include veggie options, tibs, stews, salads and other Ethiopian and international specialties, and kid-friendly options are also available. Many recipes are inspired by the family of owner, Yamrot Ezineh, who is a native Ethiopian. Read on to hear what the people are saying about the new eatery at 3100 14th St. NW.

The Decor News: Washington City Paper’s Laura Hayes notes the space is “vibrant. Colors of ground spices lacquer the walls studded with wooden carvings. [Owner Yamrot Ezineh] wanted to represent all parts of Ethiopia in the design, which is why it doesn't look like other, more traditional Ethiopian restaurants in town.” Yelper Shawn M. thinks it’s “beautifully decorated and is a bright, open space,” while Zagat says “Ethiopian sculptures and artwork establish a sense of place.” [WCP, Yelp, Zagat]

The Shroom News: Yelper B.F. raved about the Mushroom Dulet (chopped mushroom mixed with jalapeño, red onion, garlic and olive oil), which has a “slight crunch, taste and texture is better than any Ethiopian food I've ever had in this city. Mushrooms perfectly cooked, not mushy.” Yelper D.S. notes the mushroom dishes “were particularly good.” [Yelp]

The Return Customer News: Yelper Emily M. has been twice since it's opened and recommends “the kitfo and both mushroom dishes,” while Yelper Molly I. came for lunch “two days in a row” and Yelper John S. plans to stop “by often to satisfy our Ethiopian food cravings.” [Yelp]

The Wallet-Friendly News: For less than $20, Yelper Lindsey E. “got two meals (each had a meat dish with veggie side and injera). I got the doro wat, tibs, gomen, and timatim fitfit. Each was delicious and very fresh.” [Yelp]

The Measures-Up News: Yelper Helo Y. is married to an Ethiopian and eats “Ethiopian food a lot...I confess that this is probably the best Ethiopian food that I've ever had (apart from my wife's cooking).” [Yelp]

The Novice News: Instagrammer @mndasilva had “only eaten this cuisine once before and didn't have the best experience. I would definitely go back and try the other dishes. My food had so many flavors and the right amount of spices. It was a bit greasier then I like.” [Instagram]

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