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Los Angeles' Little Ethiopia Offers Dining, Drinking, & Discovery
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Los Angeles' Little Ethiopia Offers Dining, Drinking, & Discovery

Picture of C. Marie Cradle
Updated: 9 February 2017
Nestled in Los Angeles’s Westside, is a culture-rich community that draws in Angelenos from all over the city. Little Ethiopia is an excellent destination for those seeking more than palm trees, sand, and surf in your LA experience. Come hungry for eclectic cuisine and thirsty for original coffee. Then go for a culture stroll down the neighborhood stretch of Fairfax Blvd and let your mind be stimulated.

Dine As the Locals Would

Some of LA’s finest ethnic eateries are in the neighborhood. There are over a dozen tempting Ethiopian eateries, mainly operated by 1st and 2nd generation Ethiopian-Americans. All are affordable, ranging from $10-$20 per person for a filling meal and drink. Rahel Ethiopian Vegan Cuisine is a favorite among even carnivorous foodies, though if meat is a must, Awash is where to go for steak. No matter which restaurant diners choose, they receive special Ethiopian hospitality served along with the food. Some of the cultural aspects of the Little Ethiopia restaurant experience include dining on the floor and the romantic act of hand feeding, or gursha.

Rahel Ethiopian Vegan Cuisine Restaurant, 1047 S. Fairfax, LosAngeles, CA +323 937 8401

Awash, 5990 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA +323 939 3233

Drink the Original Coffee

It is said that Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee; Coffea arabica originates in there. The next best thing to drinking coffee in a rustic Addis Ababa café is to head to Rahel or, just a few doors away, Messob restautrant. The making of coffee the traditional Ethiopian way can take two hours. These restaurants will either honor the lengthy ceremony or use a slightly truncated version of the process. The characteristic taste of Ethiopian coffee is rich and spicy.

Messob, 1041 S Fairfax, Los Angeles, CA, + 323 938 8827

Discover the Art of Decorated Cakes

Detour a bit from Ethiopian fare, and stumble upon legendary Hansen’s Cakes to satiate your sweet tooth and experience a visual feast. Since the late 1940s, the main Hansen showroom has displayed masterfully decorated cakes. Dozens of cake artists create extravagant, handcrafted layers, producing over 100 cakes a day. Some creations truly “take the cake” to incredible heights, with highly detailed designs. Cakes have been shaped to resemble Big Ben, Batman and even the bare breasts of a woman. Celebrities have long stopped for Hansen’s concoctions—most notably Bob Hope, who had a two-story cake made for a whopping five figures. But there’s no need to buy a big cake meant for a major celebration; for a quick, delectable sugar fix, get a cupcake. Choose from red velvet, blue velvet, salty caramel, strawberry and more.

Hansen’s Cakes, 1072 S. Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA, + 323 936 4332

Discover Art and Culture at LECRC

Discover the beauty of Ethiopia at the Little Ethiopia Cultural and Resource Center (LECRC). Run passionately by Negest (Nikki) Legesse, LECRC is the ultimate cultural center in Los Angeles for Ethiopia, as well as its neighbor, Eritrea. The Center is an art gallery, classroom and community gathering spot in one. Vivid paintings of elegant Ethiopian figures, distinct tribal masks, hand woven dolls and several more artifacts are exhibited. The most fascinating aspect of the trip to non-African visitors may be the chance to observe the Ethiopian regulars conversing, often jovially.

LECRC,1037 S. Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA, + 310 633 4830

Dance Your Heart Out

Want an alternative to yoga and spinning? Try dancing, Ethiopian style. At LECRC, there are pre-registered and walk-in classes available for both the young and old who want to shake it out. Typical dances include eskista, tigrigna and oromiffa. There are even dance courses that incorporate Amharic, the language of Ethiopia. See LECRC’s website for course schedules.