You like to eat in restaurants. We like to eat in restaurants. But sometimes, it just feels good to eat at home. You get to invite the people you actually like, talk as loudly as you want, and inhale food without worrying about every precious thing on the plate because you know there’s more than enough to go around. Messob, the family-run Ethiopian restaurant on Fairfax, is a rare LA restaurant that gives you that exact feeling - without having to cook.
Open since 1985, Messob is an Ethiopian staple. It might not be as famous (or fancy) as its neighbor Meals By Genet, but it doesn’t need to be. A meal at Messob is like eating at home with your friends, because your mom’s in town and offered to cook. The dining room is colorful, there’s a giant thatched hut by the window for semi-private dining, and traditional mesobs (hand-woven Ethiopian tables) are scattered down the center of the room. The crowd is a mix of families, big groups of friends, and dates looking to partake in the art of Gusha - hand-feeding food right into the mouth of your loved one. It’s highly encouraged at Messob (there’s a dedicated page on the menu explaining its origin), and by the end of the night, you won’t be thinking twice about it.
Whether this is your first time eating Ethiopian food or your 100th time, the ordering strategy at Messob goes like this: get a combo platter. Combo A tends to be more meat-centric dishes and combo B is entirely vegetarian. But if you’re rolling deep or with people who are excited to eat everything, you should be getting the Super Messob Exclusive. What sounds like a fiery TV tell-all is actually a massive plate of ten or so different dishes from across the menu all hanging out on a huge layer of injera (spongey, thin Ethiopian bread). Will there come a point where you won’t know which dish is which or what you just put in your mouth? Yes. And that’s one of the best parts about Messob’s food (and Ethiopian food in general).
Sure, the chicken-stewed Doro Wat and Yater Alictha with peas and onions are great on their own, but when mixed together in a piece of injera bread, they get even better. And when you’re eating it all with your hands, sitting around a giant table drinking Ethiopian beer with your friends, it’s like you never left home in the first place.
This massive plate comes with nine dishes from all sections of the menu ranging from collards to spicy lamb stew, and it’s fantastic. The plate itself will take up the entirety of your table, which is great because you’re eating with your hands and plates are an afterthought. You’ll start by neatly sampling each dish as best you can, until you realize you’re living a lie and start grabbing entire fistfuls of whatever is in front of you.
These are essentially Ethiopian samosas and a must-order when you arrive starving and need to calm your hunger rage. Note: one order of these is definitely enough for two people.