While wandering thru the Village at lunch time, we found ourselves right outside the Ethiopian restaurant, Meskerem (124 Macdougal Street)--about a block and a half south from Washington Square Park. Had to try it!
Environment: Small, simple but pleasant decor, not enough air conditioning--but their big floor fan helped. Uncrowded at 12:30 pm on a Saturday.
Service: Couldn't be better--or faster. Smiling waitresses and ice water arrived within 30 seconds. We were in and out in 45 minutes and would have been lots quicker if we hadn't lingered over the meal, lapping up every last morsel and discussing every spice and flavor.
FOOD: Excellent meal--we shared the combo platter (for about $12.95, I think) It was huge. Piled onto the injera (deliciously sour) were lentils in hot bebere sauce (my favorite taste sensation (!), mild lamb with garlic and ginger (called Yebeg Alecha); a spicy beef preparation; collard greens--and what I think was a sort of green split-pea stew. A large extra folded-up piece of injera was also offered on the side. My only criticism is that I wish that separate piece had been heated a bit. It was delicious--cooked well--but cold.
If you go during the week, there are lunch specials.
When we left, a small group of what were definitely tourists (led by one obvious knowledgeable chowhound) walked in. We almost stayed at our table long enough to see the visitors' looks of surprise when the meal came sans utensils! If they like using their fingers like we do, they were in for a treat.
Meskerem also has a West 47th St and 10th Avenue locale--but next time I have to try the Upper West Side Ethiopian places in my own 'nabe just for a taste test.