Best Of 2000

Best Tabletop Adventure: Empress Taytu

Sometimes, eating is the best way to travel. That's certainly the case at the Empress Taytu, a welcoming Ethiopian restaurant that serves what is undoubtedly the most exotic food in town. Sit at a traditional mesob -- a low basket table surrounded by carved wooden stools -- and breathe in the incense of the East African kitchen, redolent with rue, bishop's weed, and "holy" basil. When your meal arrives, there's no need to worry about which fork to use: Utensils are a no-no. Instead, scoop up the spicy, saucy grain-and-meat dishes -- raw beef kitfo, hot and savory dorowat, rosemary-scented t'ibs -- with pieces of spongy injera, a moist flatbread sort of like a chewy crêpe. Afterward, cleanse your hands with a hot towel and sip cup after tiny cup of thick, cordial-like coffee, poured from a curvaceous jabena and savored inside a haze of frankincense. If you don't find all this to be a culinary adventure of the first order, you really do need a vacation.

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