Who is Elsa?

A new restaurant opened in my neighborhood: Elsa Ethiopian Kitchen

3 min readDec 1, 2023

I’m excited for a new dining option. But who is Elsa? I decided to find out. The following interview with Elsabet Yirge has been edited for clarity and length.

The new restaurant in Woodley Park

Gawain: Can you introduce yourself and just say a little something about yourself?

Elsa: My name is Elsabet, but friends and people who know me call me Elsa, which is ok. I came from Ethiopia, in the Horn of Africa. So I’ve been here since 1996. I’ve been in this business for a long time. I grew up with the family-oriented, family-run business before I decided to open my own restaurant.

G: Tell me about this restaurant. Does it have a certain style?

E: It’s home cooking. I love cooking. I make sure it’s authentic and represents Ethiopian style. Some restaurants cook for Americans, you know, they try to make mild, not the real, real Ethiopian. But I cook what I eat. Some people [in the neighborhood] know about Ethiopian food because they know about Ethiopia. They’ve been in Ethiopia so they know.

G: Why did you pick Woodley Park?

E: We used to have Elsa on Georgia Avenue. Sooner or later it’s gone because the area is under development, they’re not renewing the lease. So we have to find a place to stay long. When we found this area and we look around and we drive around. The zoo is close and the hotel. And the people walking around and the [Metro] station. So this must be a good place. So we go: Good. I didn’t see the Ethiopian restaurant around here. So that’s why we choose this place.

And also the the people knock the door and they ask us. They are very happy.

It’s been five years since we moved from Atlanta, Georgia, 2018. Moved here from from Georgia Atlanta; Moved to Georgia Avenue. It’s confusing.

Elsabet Yirge

G: Besides Ethiopian food, what’s your favorite kind of food?

E: I love to taste the food. I go out to eat outside, I try different food. I cook the Ethiopian, so I don’t go the Ethiopian restaurant. Favorite? Greek. The Mediterranean food. Yeah, I love that. And whenever I go the restaurant, I test to figure what is in there from the taste. So I come home I try to make it.

G: How long has Elsa been open?

E: Only six weeks.

G: What do you miss about Georgia Avenue that you don’t have here?

E: The raw meat.

G: Raw meat?

E: The raw meat. Because in that location we were selling a lot of raw meat, which is traditional. Ethiopians eat raw meat. Most of our customers were Ethiopians. Around here they don’t even know raw meat. So, we don’t have that at all. Not at all.

Elsa and her husband Ben

G: Tell me something else that you want the neighborhood to know.

E: I’m happy with the neighbors because they are welcoming. They always give give us energy, since we opened up, even before we opened when we put up the sign. They gave us energy.

NOTE: Elsa Ethiopian Kitchen is at 2614 Connecticut Ave NW





I'm a human person, working in policy & advocacy in international development, gender rights, economic justice.