One of the things that I miss most about Washington DC is the abundance of delicious Ethiopian food. There is a large Ethiopian community in DC, and there are quite a few Ethiopian restaurants in the city, many of which are clustered in the U Street neighborhood.
Ethiopian food is served on top of a spongy, slightly sour bread called injera. You eat with your right hand, scooping up meat and veggies with the injera. Popular dishes include lamb or beef tibs, and wat, a thick stew made with meat, legumes, or veggies. Doro wat – the chicken stew – is an incredibly popular dish. I love the spicy “awaze” tibs:
Some dishes are seasoned with berbere, a combination of chili peppers and other spices. I also love the lentils and veggies, like cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, hot peppers, and greens. If you are feeling adventurous, try the kitfo – a raw (or rare) beef mixed with spices and a butter sauce. Ethiopian honey wine (Tej) is worth trying, although I usually go with a cold Harar beer. And don’t miss the coffee – Ethiopian coffee is the best in the world.
My favorite Ethiopian restaurant in DC is Dukem (1114 U Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20001). I love their large combination platters which give you a little taste of a lot of dishes. I usually order the Combination Number 6, pictured above, which can be ordered spicy – it comes with awaze tibs, doro wat and a bunch of delicious veggies, and is more than enough for two people to split. (Ethiopian food is meant to be shared – don’t be surprised if your neighbor offers you a bite.) If you want to save a bit of money, skip the sit-down restaurant and go next door to the take-away window.
Zenebach Injera (608 T St NW, Washington, DC 20001) is also a great spot, albeit a little rough around the edges. They have the best injera in town and great prices, but the decor is lacking – it is a little hole-in-the-wall with plastic tables and chairs.
I am looking forward to visiting Ethiopia next year to see how the food there compares to the dishes that I grew to love in DC.
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