Washington, D.C. has the largest Ethiopian community outside of Africa. As the immigrants settled in Adams Morgan and the U St Corridor in the early ’80s, a plethora of authentic Ethiopian restaurants sprang up. While in D.C., be sure to pull up a chair, grab your injera (spongy, tangy bread) and dig in at these eight, great Ethiopian restaurants.
Restaurant, Ethiopian, $$$
Trying Ethiopian for the first time? Check out Lalibela. Grab a seat on the patio and dig into their special gluten-free injera. The staff is extremely friendly and knowledgeable, so let them know it’s your first time and you’ll be in good hands.
Want a place to go for some late-night Ethiopian fun? On weekends, Queen Sheba becomes the go-to hangout for expats, with music, dancing, and a lively atmosphere. In addition to the typical dishes found in most restaurants, Queen of Sheba offers some less common items such as the telba wot (flaxseed) and fitfit (tomato and peanut butter).
Though not technically in D.C., this Michelin-recommended restaurant and mart is worth the trip outside of the District. CherCher Ethiopian Cuisine Restaurant and Mart is a casual eatery serving fresh, regional Ethiopian dishes. Known for its authenticity and cheap prices, CherCher is a favorite among expats and locals alike. After a bite, you can grab some Ethiopian spices from the mart and take the flavor of CherCher home with you.
If you’re looking for a great date-night spot, look no more. Das offers upscale Ethiopian cuisine, complete with white tablecloths. It’s located just off M Street in Georgetown. Das’ menu features traditional Ethiopian classics including miser wot (red lentils) and collard greens gomen, plus more modern combinations such as eggplant and carrot that are equally delicious.
Addis is a funky, fun spot to hole up for dinner and a drink. On the H St Corridor, it offers affordable and delectable Ethiopian bites. Try out their combination platters with vegetarian and meat options for all, and don’t forget to order a glass of tej, honey wine that is made fresh, in-house.
Letena caters to vegetarians and vegans with its healthy, authentic Ethiopian menu. The kitchen sources local, organic ingredients coupled with imported Ethiopian spices. To introduce the cuisine to the public, Letena offers injera, burrito wraps and rice to accompany the entrees. Make sure to try the Gomen – collard greens cooked with seasoned oil and jalapeno peppers.
Don’t miss this hidden gem on your trip to D.C. Keren serves up Eritrean food (very similar to Ethiopian cuisine). Start your day with breakfast and a cup of house tea, or come by around dinner for a vegetarian combo and cheap beer. Be prepared to wait if you come around dinner time – the locals love it here.