Where to get the spiciest East African food in West Los Angeles

Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles may be famous for Canter's Deli (beware of cranky waitresses) and the Original Farmer's Market (look for familiar TV stars on their break from CBS Television City next door), but it's also home to the best Ethiopian food west of, well, Ethiopia. So why travel a grueling 9,000 miles when you can dine at these restaurants conveniently located close to each other in what's called "Little Ethiopia," the block between Olympic and Pico Boulevards in West(-ish) L.A? The only downside is that sometimes it can take as long to find a parking spot as it would to fly halfway to Africa. (Tip: Take a taxi or Lyft instead.)


Although this hidden gem (it's actually on Pico Boulevard, less than a mile south of the other restaurants) serves dishes both with and without meat, even die-hard carnivores will fall hard for appetizers like the carrot potato curry and spicy red lentils. This small restaurant is always packed on weekends, so the wait may be long and the service slow, but it's totally worth it. Open daily from noon to 10 p.m.

Rahel Ethiopian Vegan Cuisine

Stop in here for a drink. Not a cocktail, but the "3D"—a combination of barley, flax seeds, sunflower seeds and agave. Sure, it sounds awful, but you'll be surprised how really, really tasty it is. Open Sunday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday to 11 p.m.

Little Ethiopia Restaurant

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If your wallet is on a diet but you aren't, for $15 or less you can splurge on a deliciously filling vegetarian combo with green and split peas, cabbage, collard greens and lentils, or a meat dish like a whole fried trout or tibs—beef or lamb cubes sauteed in a spicy onion, jalapeno and tomato sauce. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Meals by Genet

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If you're looking for a slightly fancier dining experience and/or want to try a spectacular meat dish, try Meals by Genet. The specialty here is chicken doro wot, a fragrant red-pepper stew with chicken legs and a hard-boiled egg. Open Wednesday to Sunday from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Closed Monday and Tuesday.

Messob Ethiopian Restaurant

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Still hungry? No matter what dish you order here, be sure to sample the honey wine. As you can guess, it is indeed the opposite of dry, but perfect as a super sweet after-dinner drink, especially after downing all that spicy food. You might not want to embarrass yourself by making a lame joke about how you're as buzzed as the bees that made it, unless your companions are just as buzzed. Open Sunday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday to 12 a.m.

Buna Ethiopian Market

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Your last stop should be this market, because by now you'll be totally addicted to Ethiopian food and desperate to buy whatever you need for your next fix (to fix it back at home, that is). And for dessert, try the baklava and wash it down with Ethiopian spice tea at the small restaurant in the back. Open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Laura Goldman is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer. Check out her i Still Love Dogs blog and follow her on Twitter.