Mon-Fri, 5pm-11pm; Sat-Sun, noon-11pm
B, C at 116th St.; B, C at Cathedral Pkwy./110th St.
Cash Only, American Express
A step up from its Ethiopian competitors in pretty much every category but price, Zoma sports a sleek, modern interior: White cushioned chairs and banquettes match the pristine walls, while African jewelry, mounted headrests, and fabric panels add some needed (and soothing) color. Under a wheel-shaped iron chandelier over the backlit bar, the crowd, a balanced mix of Ethiopians and Harlemites, attests to authenticity. As to the house injera, it’s closer to crêpe than sponge, so it’s perfect for dipping into an array of vegetarian choices or marinated beef, chicken, and lamb. Firm red lentils carry a complex flavor experience, with black cumin and garlic joining a base of berbere (sun-dried jalapeños ground with cardamom and ginger). That latter ingredient reappears in the tibs wett, a tangy sirloin stew, and its chicken counterpart, doro wett, too. Either is well accompanied by the traditional honey wine—certainly more than the unorthodox Harlem Raging Bull, a blend of vodka, tequila, and Red Bull.