I’ve been up and down the short stretch of Fairfax known as Little Ethiopia, and to be honest, there isn’t a huge gap in quality among the restaurants that line these two blocks. Each boasts, somehow, that it is the “only authentic Ethiopian restaurant in Los Angeles,” but to my palate, almost all of them are comparable in deliciousness, if not indistinguishable. There are a few details that will set one apart from the next—Meals by Genet is a more upscale dining experience than its neighbors, and consequently a bit more expensive, but the dishes offered are very similar to those at Messob two doors down. Messob isn’t quite as cheap as, say, Merkato across the street, but their versions of the key dishes have depth of flavor and hit all of the different notes that are unique to Ethiopian sauces. Ethiopian sauces can be most simply described as akin to curries, but they taste entirely different from Indian and Thai curries. In place of the turmeric, coriander and cumin you’ll find in an Indian curry, there are 20 or so different spices that go into an Ethiopian stew, or wat. The chicken doro wat at Messob is particularly delicious. As with any dish in any restaurant on this strip, it arrives atop a large flat injera, that purplish spongy sticky bread with a tangy, yeasty flavor. There is an entire chicken leg covered in a rich, thick stew that will turn your fingers red as you bring the morsels of meat to your mouth with only your hands and a piece of injera. The stew has a curious flavor—to describe an Ethiopian stew to someone who has never tasted it before is nearly impossible. It is thick and somewhat oily, but not unpleasantly so; it is close in texture and savoriness to an Indian korma, but its flavor is more complex; it’s spicy but not in a hot way. I guess you just have to try it. And don’t forget to order vegetables, which are my favorite thing about Ethiopian cooking. The red lentil stew and the collard greens at Messob are excellent. One of the very special things about living in Los Angeles is access to authentic ethnic cuisines. Before moving to LA I had been to one Ethiopian restaurant in San Francisco; it was the only one I was even aware existed. It was pretty good, but didn’t make much of an impression—without the ethnic community I imagine it’s hard to source the right ingredients. Now that I’ve tasted true Ethiopian cuisine, I know it is extremely unique and delicious, and I crave it on a regular basis. Messob is a great option for your Ethiopian fix.