Huge U Street News: Solly’s Expanding into Madjet Ethiopian Restaurant Next Door

Great news for fans of Solly’s located at 11th and U St, NW – not only will they be getting a bit bigger – but you’ll soon be able to get food too. One of the few criticisms I’ve heard about Solly’s is that some folks would like the opportunity to grab a bite to eat as well as a cold beer. Well, after some renovations – you’ll soon have that option. Owner John Solomon tells me that there will be a one month reno and if all goes according to plan it should be ready at the end of Feb.

Admittedly, Solly’s is one of my favorite bars in the city – so I think this is phenomenal news. Can’t wait to hear more about the food options. Stay tuned for more details as we get closer to the date.

The only drawback, I will miss the “born to cook” awning:

63 Comment

  • So, no more Madjets? What a bummer. That was one of my favorite restaurants in DC. Such a chill atmosphere and great food too. I loved getting one of the window seats there so I could watch the people passing by on U Street.

  • Not happy to see another restaurant go away to be replaced by another bar to appeal to 22-40 year old drinking demographic. But understand in this town it is a money maker.

    • Gimme a break. It’s not like there aren’t about 20 other Ethiopian restaurants within a stone’s throw of Madjets.

    • What, you don’t like $16 craft beer/bourbon shot combinations and $14 artisinal burgers with fries? Why do you hate America?

    • Maybe it had a chill atmosphere and room by the window because almost no one went there. You can’t stay in business just because people think you’re nice.

      Also, there are more Ethiopian restaurants in DC than anywhere outside Addis Ababa. They’re not just competing with bars, but with other Ethiopian places. It’s not Solly’s fault (or 22-40 year olds’ fault) that Madjet looks like a Yums-Chicken-Sub-Fish-Chinese-Seafood instead of a place to be taken seriously, and subsequently didn’t do enough business.

      • Just because the interior wasn’t designed with reclaimed wood, exposed brick, etc. it doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously? That’s ridiculous. Not every restaurant in the city needs to be perfectly designed. They made good food at a reasonable price, which is something we’re lacking.

        • I’ve always found the interior of Madjets to be pretty impressive. Warm, low lighting and lots of dark wood. My only complaint would be about the very tiny bathrooms.

        • ledroittiger

          +1. Zenebech Injera looks even crappier and is way better than Madjet.

        • Yes. Good food is an insufficient skill on a street with lots of competition and expensive real estate. Madjet may not have been cool enough to bring in the amount of business it needed to afford that much frontage on U Street (maybe on T, maybe on V). People moving into that area have demonstrated that they want more than food, good or otherwise. If American Ice Co. is any indication, you can do good business even with crap food, as long as you have good microbrews on draught.

          Madjet can find their pitty party waiting down the street, past about 4 more Ethiopian places.

  • The post wasn’t totally clear on that – is Madjet going away completely?

  • Nooooooooo. Madjet is/was delicious and cheap. It was never that crowded whenever I was there, so I guess I’m not that surprised. Disappointing though. Are they already closed or can I have a last meal there?

  • Etete gets all the Food Network exposure, but Madjet was a better deal all around. Hope it doesn’t go away.

  • Let’s hope Mad Jet lands someplace where it can be a little less angry. I’ll miss their food if they go for real.

  • Solly’s is one of the better bars in DC

  • We haven’t been back to Solly’s in a long time so perhaps this is outdated, but the reason we stopped going is that their draft beer selection was really limited and the food they served was always in those little plastic baskets. I feel like I end up holding a bottled beer and trying to eat out of a basket whenever we’ve been there. I hope the new expansion changes this, that they expand their draft beer selection and that there are more sit down, full plate meals.

    • Uh…that’s the appeal of Solly’s. It’s a dive. It’s not one of those pricy, pretentious craft beer houses.

      • You haven’t heard about the expansion plans, then. The new area will be totally separate from the main bar. The entrance will look like a janitor’s closet door. You knock the special code (which changes every 37 hours) and a bespectacled, mustachioed hipster in a Bauhaus t-shirt and skinny jeans will allow you entry, if you’re on the list. You then sit at a bar which was airlifted in from Mechanicsburg, PA and sip the finest craft beer and bourbon selections, many of which you will never have heard of. A 2×2 flight is only $60 and worth every penny. The food selection will feature a deconstruction of an artisinal handmade half-smoke served with pump nacho cheese. At $15, you can’t get more irony per penny any place else.

        • Yeah Alex, I get that. Not looking for pricey or pretentious, just good food to go along with the hopefully still cheap drinks. Like Asylum was always a dive bar, but they had good cheap food selections and at least a couple, also inexpensive, beers on tap.

        • You tell those whippersnappers, D of T! In our day, we drank our beer warm out of a bucket, right!? Those where the days. Only thing more dangerous than our women was our cholera, yes sir. How dare those kids spend their money on things they like. We know what’s good for ’em.

        • win.

      • ledroittiger

        I want Solly’s to stay divey too. At least they have the Public. Pharmacy has done an interesting job of offering more interesting beers in addition to their regular stuff and have also brought in 13th St. Meats for food options. And the place still looks like a dump so that you can feel good about yourself for going to a dive bar. It’s possible to have a little bit of both.

    • Hey Bill!
      Well yes it has been a long time since you’ve visited. We haven’t served food since the first year we were open & we only had draft once (Heineken hooked us up with a tap/fridge but we got rid of it). We’re very excited at this opportunity and we’d love to see you again in our bar. Solly has some amazing ideas for food and we’ll keep the taxi’s to a minimum 😉 Peyton (A Solly’sPartner)

      • Great to hear Peyton! Yes, it has definitely been awhile, but we’ll be sure to check it out soon! Solly’s is the favorite bar of a number of friends of mine, so we’ll get a group to come out. Looking forward to the new expansion!

      • As one of the proud-to-be “original” patrons of Solly’s, I am elated to hear the news. This bar is run by a group of kind, community-minded individuals who love their city and love creating a space where everybody knows your name. DU, it may be true that the things you find at Solly’s are much like something you would get at a house or apartment party, but that is exactly why I like it! And they clean up after me on a nightly basis, too. Who wouldn’t love that? I for one am very excited to see what their menu will look like, and will make the very easy adjustment of taking my Ethiopian food craving two doors down to Dukem (or two blocks away to Etete, Queen Makeda, Habesha, Selam, etc., etc.). My bottom line – this is an exciting development for some truly deserving businesspeople in the area.

    • There is no draft beer at Solly’s.

  • I love Solly’s, but part of their charm came from the fact that it was small and that you could bring in outside food. Oh well, as long as the vibe remains the same and the food is cheap/unpretentious I’ll still enjoy it. And I’ll still have the Raven in Mt. Pleasant when I am craving take-out Korean in a dive bar.

    • Bedrock in Adams Morgan is a great no-frills place that lets you bring in food and chill. A pizza from Astors always tastes better in the basement of Bedrock…

    • I now feel stupid for not having this idea before. That’s an awesome combo that I will definitely have to try in the near future.

  • This will probably ruin Solly’s – bigger isn’t always better.

    • Hey Doc A!

      I know what you mean! Sometimes when a place expands they ruin the ‘family’ feel of a neighborhood joint. We are very aware of the intimate vibe at our spot and we aren’t going to take that away. The main thing that’s going to change is folks won’t be able to bring their own food anymore, but with what we’re going to offer you’re not going to want to bring your own anyway. I hope you come by and check it out when we’re done! Peyton (A Solly’s Partner)

  • “but you’ll soon be able to get food too”

    Antipodean style meat pies??

  • just what U street needs. Another place serving bar food. Solly’s hasn’t been good in years but at least they let you bring food in

    • hey J,

      Sorry to hear that you’re not a fan of us anymore! One of the biggest complaints I hear about our spot is that we’re “too busy.” Many of our regulars have confided in me they prefer the weeknights as opposed to the weekends because its easier to get a seat at the inn (bar 🙂 – As for our upcoming menu, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with what Solly has come up with. I can’t get into details, but it’s not what you’re thinking. We don’t want to do your ‘average bar food’ either 🙂 Hope you give us another shot because we’ll be happy to provide you with them… I’d suggest Powers. It’s delicious! ; ) Peyton (a Sollys partner)

  • Another neighbor sad to see Madjet go – lovely people and great food.

  • Hey, you know where else you can get beer in a bottle, hang out with your friends, and bring in outside food? Anybody’s house or apartment! I don’t understand the appeal of Solly’s at all, but I was happy that it gave other people an option that they enjoyed. Now that they will serve food, I might actually consider trying the place.

    • This sucks. Madjet was the best (and cheapest) Ethiopian in the neighborhood. It was bad at advertising itself though. Too bad. Would be wonderful if it reopened elsewhere.

    • hey D.U,

      Have you ever heard of a persons “Third Place?” In life folks often have three places they spend the most of their time at. Home, work and their 3rd place. We opened Solly’s to provide a spot for everyone to come in and hang their hat, rout for their team and rock out with their friends. At the end of the day we’ll clean up and re-stock the fridge. I hope you give us a try. There’s a drink waiting for ya!! Peyton- (a sollys partner)

  • Madjet is by far the best Ethiopian joint in DC, and Solly’s is very mediocre. If anybody has any information on when Madjet is closing exactly, I’d really appreciate it.

  • saf

    Crap. I love Madjet.

  • I used to throw Drum&Bass parties in that place ( Solly’s, formerly called U-Turn) back when the neighborhood was a dump. Amazing whats happened to DC over the years, U street is now what Adam’s Morgan used to be, never coulda predicted that!

  • Congrats to Solly’s on the expansion. As a person that has been a patron since they opened I am very excited for the prospect of more room downstairs. I have missed Solly’s ever since moving to California and can’t wait to come back and see everything when they finish.

    • Agreed. Solly’s is a great place to drink and hang out with friends and having a little bit of snack can’t hurt. I look forward to many more nights drinking at Solly’s and hope that they can turn an expansion into a great addition with the menu while still keeping the small dive bar feel. I’ve had many birthdays, farewells and welcome back’s at the bar and consider it to be one of the best in the neighborhood.

  • Any word if Solly’s plans to expand their stage and/or upgrade sound system? The upstairs could become a great live venue.

  • I was an early patron of Sollys when they first opened and still love this bar but don’t go as often because of the crowds. I am excited for the expansion and wish them the best – now maybe I can get a seat at the bar on a weekend night. Congrats to all of the Solly’s Partners on their success!

  • seems like Madjet has more fans than Sollys on PoP… Makes me hate the fact they are closing even more.

    Definitely one of my fave ethio spots

  • there will never be like madget.

  • It seems everyone just assumes Solly pounded on the door and said I’m taking over. If Madjet’s had a stronger customer base, revenue, or capital I’m sure they would still be open. I think it is a great move from the Partners of Sollys. I am one of probably 50% of the loyal customers that is greeted on a first named basis, not many other bars have a following like Solly’s. Solly’s used to have basic bar food that wasn’t really worth it, its expensive to keep a kitchen and labor it if it isn’t producing so they eliminated it (brilliant, to many places try keep the kitchen alive). The food trend these days is to be simple, clean, and different. No doubt his menu will be short and to the point, another plus for the loyal customer and an even better reason for the new customer to stop in…….. Looking forward to it!!!

    • I think it’s great that Solly’s is expanding and I wish them the best with it. I’ll be sure to stop by to eat there at some point. I just found the PoP post here a little puzzling as it celebrated Solly’s expansion with no mention of losing a well-regarded restaurant.

  • This is awful news. Madjet is my favorite Ethiopian restaurant and one of the top restaurants on U Street. Sad to think it will be replaced by bar food. Boo.

  • Excellent! As an ORIGINAL patron back in the day……..I’m glad that they are expanding. They definitely need the room! Now food service to follow???

  • First, as an Ethiopian and a person who had a cousin who used to work at Madjet, I am sad to see it go but at the same time the food was not that great.

    Second, I think everyone forgets the fact that you were always aloud to order food or bring food from other places cause they didn’t care.

    Finally, Solly’s is just plain old awesome so anything they do is something that I am an immediate fan of.

  • what a sad news

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