New Ethiopian Restaurant Opens on Columbia Pike

by Aaron Kraut July 31, 2012 at 9:45 am 4,733 28 Comments

(Updated at 10:05 a.m.) The Karamara Ethiopian restaurant (3205 Columbia Pike), set for a late-August grand opening, is about 10 years in the making.

Owner Selamawit Belete emigrated from Ethiopia to the U.S. a decade ago. Establishing a restaurant, such as the one her family owned in Ethiopia, was always in the back of her mind.

She’ll have plenty of competition.

The nearby Dama Cafe has earned praise as one of the Washington area’s best Ethiopian eateries. Then there’s Harar Mesob at 542 S. 23rd Street in Crystal City and Meaza just over the Fairfax County line at 5700 Columbia Pike.

Karamara had a soft-opening last Wednesday and will be open with an abbreviated menu until Belete can get her liquor permit approved. She expects that process to take a few more weeks.

  • Becoming indifferent

    Meaza is in Fairfax County, but it’s not in “Fairfax.” Its address is Falls Church.

    • Suburban Not Urban

      Yea saying Meaza’s in Fairfax makes it seem like it’s out in Burke. It’s right on Columbia Pike right before the you get to Rt 7, just over the Arlington line.

      • drax

        The problem is when people call Fairfax County “Fairfax,” when there is a city called Fairfax. And a city called Falls Church, which is neither.

        • fairfaxian

          and much of central fairfax county has a mailing address of Fairfax, even though it is not in the City of Fairfax (which BTW, is also not part of Fairfax county, though its surrounded by it, and gets some services from it)

          And there are parts of Fairfax county with Falls Church and Alexandria mailing addresses.

        • Becoming indifferent

          I’m not sure what you mean when you say “And a city called Falls Church, which is neither.”

          • He means that it’s neither…

            Falls Church is not Fairfax County, and it’s not Fairfax City. It’s Falls Church.

    • Updated the article with more precise location information.

  • novasteve

    Whenthe street car comes in and places get priced out of Arlington, will we all be celebrating being green?

    • Confused

      buy articulated buses, and drive the inexpensive businesses out of Arlington while spending less money, and avoiding the inflexibility of tracks. Shouldnt that be it?

      How can the streetcar cause places to be priced out, while at the same time having no incremental impact on real estate values, development, and property tax revenues?

      • Trolly Troll

        The rent will go up because there will be more business and if you cant increase business you will be priced out. Its mostly the unadaptable that think businesses will be priced out because they will not benefit from increased patronage.
        I agree the argument makes no sense, except for the celebrating being green part.

        • novasteve

          Say if you wanted a quiet, moes tavern type place instead of a meat market that is everyone elblow to elbow on weekends? You can’t have thta if the rent is high. Not everyone wants to become mega rich. But if you complain about the “taverns” we have in arlingotn, look forward to even more places like that due to the high rents.

  • Ah, the dreaded Kabobs Inn/Pines of Naples/Sangam location.

    Good luck with ALL THAT.

  • Meh..

    If you build it……

  • AL

    I’d love to go, if I weren’t so certain to be stabbed, hit by a car, murdered, smashed by an SUV or trapped in a burning building on Columbia Pike. All in a month’s time!

    • drax

      Wow, smashed by an SUV and burned in a building AFTER being murdered. That’s a busy month.

      • sunflower

        trolls are hard to kill, like zombies

    • PikerShorts

      I must be a miracle of human endurance, having lived on the pike for 6 years without any of that happening to me.

  • UA

    I was hoping they would tear down that block and build a 6 story mixed use there, maybe in a few years with the trolley.

    • Unlikely any time soon.

      That block is not one property – pretty much every single business along that stretch is an independent property. Meaning you’d have to realistically buy out each and every one of them to redevelop the block.

  • JimPB

    Welcome. Looking forward to a visit.

    • veeta

      ditto–welcome to the neighborhood!
      Dama is stiff competition, but I can walk here (safely I might add) so I look forward to checking it out.

  • novasteve

    Do any Ethiopian places make the food less sweet than the others? Every place I’ve been, it’s very sweet, and I don’t like sweet. Is there a less sweet alternative?

    • veeta

      What is it that you find sweet exactly? I only eat the vegetarian samplers, and my husband always gets tibs. Neither of which I’d call sweet, other than maybe the carrots and one of the lentil dishes. Most lean toward spicy. I dunno.

      • WeiQiang

        /\ this /\

      • novasteve

        The bread is definetely sweet. Everything I’ve had has been sweet or slightly sweet, even if spicy, it was still sweet.

  • nota gain


  • cjw

    Sangam was one of the worst dining experiences I’ve ever had, so I wasn’t expecting much, but my husband and I stopped by on their third day of service and loved it. Extremely tasty food and excellent service. Will be even better after they get their liquor license.

    I am pretty sure there is a small free lot (we walked).

  • Coraline

    The food here is great and the staff is very friendly. As the previous poster said, the vegetarian is great. But the lamb was fantastic too. The doro wat was a bit intense for me, but it is very authentic.


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