Jarra's food has been consistently good for the 10 years I've gone. The lamb is just incredible, a full shank and favorite. Never had watery food or thin inerja. Tried everything there, used to go weekly, been to dozens of other ethopian places throughout the US, it's the best hands down. Texture, flavor, portions... yum.
The owner is a chatty fellow. Petro's works round the clock there, is server, cashier. His wife is most often the cook. And the children can often be found, unobtrusively, well behaved, in the lobby entrance between the dining room and kitchen. It's a family place.
Yes, the bathroom *is* OLD. It won't impress anyone.
The owner does sometimes say some very blunt things. If you are thin skinned, blow it off, spare yourself an undue reaction. He's said things that ruffled my feathers a few times, but they were honest and true. He is expressing an opinion. I do not hold waitstaff to not being allowed to have an opinion though, and find his bluntness, even when not in my favor, refreshing. His chattines is a desire to get to know people and his community. If you want to leave with hickeys all over your toosh, wrong business. If you want a better insight to a culture, community, family, food, and person, make conversation - it's great. His big grin always seems authentically joyful to be exchanging with folks. He does very much enjoy people.
Suggestions: Order water, and a drink. You can ask for a pitcher of water, recommended if he is busy. Ask for utensils and extra napkins. Plan at a minimum an hour, if the place is slow. When you are ready for the check, walk up to the counter to pay, and you'll be attended to promptly. If you need something, ask for it. He is very accommodating.
The food is *great*. It's a terrific place, family, and place to sit back, chat with friends, chat with Petros, and get your hands dirty. (it's tradition to eat with the inerja, not utensils, have fun and dig in).
The cons are the perceptions and expectations people go in with. Instant gratification and pretense are not served. Old school home-style cooking, friendliness, and relaxed pace there will make you happy, if you enjoy such things.
Get your play, finger food, and food/spice (mild and hot offered) enjoyment on.