Discover the distant land of Ethiopia right in your own backyard; smell the aroma and see the culture of this little jewel in Los Angeles.
The aroma of exotic spices fills the air along a particular block on Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles. A stroll past shops and restaurants takes you to a distant land, where old men laugh and speak in Amharic, and diners must be prepared to eat meals with their hands.
Little Ethiopia is a great place to go whenever you want a taste of something different. Only 30-45 minutes outside of La Verne, the drive is worth it. Being Ethiopian myself, I can honestly say that Little Ethiopia is as authentic as it gets.
As a child, I remember my parents going there with their friends for a delicious dinner. Many of the restaurants feature live music. You don’t have to understand the words to like the beat of the music or the energy the musicians give off while they perform. The music, the dim lights and authentic Ethiopian décor combine to make a great evening.
Guys who want to go out with their buddies for a night of fun can usually find a card game at one of the restaurants. My father and his friends would spend Saturday nights playing cards and buying drinks while sitting outside enjoying the night air. Ladies can go and enjoy the salon and get their hair and nails done or shop at the clothing stores. My friends have all bought souvenirs from Little Ethiopia so that they could take a small piece of Ethiopia with them.
One shop along the block, Merkato, has become popular not only for its food but for its small market. The building is divided, so when customers don’t have time to sit and enjoy a meal, they can order it to go, then pick up a few souvenirs.
Little Ethiopia dates back to the early 1990s, but in 2004, former Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn officially recognized the neighborhood as Little Ethiopia.
The busy street had many Jewish shops years ago, but two Ethiopian men put their restaurants, Rosalind’s and Messob, on the busy street for better business. Two became four and four became more. Now there are several Ethiopian businesses there, including restaurants, markets, clothing stores and many other shops. The street continues to expand, and visitors continue to come for the great experience.
For a cool night out, a little culture and a little excitement, drive down to Little Ethiopia and you are guaranteed to have some fun.