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Messi’s Offers Fresh, Flavorful Ethiopian Cuisine

Visitors to now can enjoy the “most authentic Ethiopian food west of Addis Ababa,” courtesy of newly opened Messi’s Cafe and Lounge. Messi’s offers daily fresh ingredients, tasty spices, gluten-free injera, and traditional coffee ceremonies that blend fragrantly toasted brews with popcorn snacks.

Owner Messi Kyzer, who spent his childhood in Ethiopia, says that mealtime there is a social event where friends and family come together to share heaping platters of fresh food. He hopes to replicate that feeling in Emory Village’s newest restaurant, neatly tucked down one flight of stairs at 1445 Oxford Road between Saba and Dominos.

Messi’s simple, casual surroundings belie the rich aromas wafting from traditional dishes such as doro wat, a spicy chicken stew that’s the national dish of Ethiopia.

Another favorite is shiro, a thin hummus-like dish cooked with chickpeas, pepper, onions, and tomatoes and spicy Ethiopian butter.

Like much Ethiopian cuisine, shiro is eaten with pieces of injera, a spongey flat bread that’s made daily using 100 percent teff flour, an ancient grain that’s indigenous to Ethopia. Technically a seed, teff is a nutrient-rich, naturally gluten-free “superfood.”

The menu is friendly to carnivores and vegetarians alike, and includes beef, chicken and lamb dishes, as well as fragrant collard greens and spicy red lentil stew.

The restaurant’s lounge is available for private parties, and Messi’s also caters for groups up to 50 people. On the drawing board are plans for patio dining, and the owners have also applied for a beer and wine license.

“Emory Village was at the top of our list when we were searching for sites to open our
restaurant,” says the owner. He notes that its proximity to Emory’s international population was a great draw. “We love that our space is tucked away—it feels very European or like it was in New York. It may take a little effort to find us, but when you do, we hope Messi’s becomes your favorite place.”

Messi’s is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. For more information, visit www.messiscafe.com.