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The Best Ethnic Cuisine In Washington, D.C.

Picture of Lauren Gruber
Lauren Gruber
Updated: 4 November 2016
Washington, D.C. is known for its large populations of Ethiopian, Vietnamese and El Salvadorian immigrants, who’ve brought their exotic cuisine to the US capital. Here’s our guide to the best ethnic cuisines in Washington, D.C.
The palak chaat dish is a house favorite at Rasika.
©Shashi Bellamkonda/Flickr

Zenebech Injera

Zenebech Injera is a budget-friendly Ethiopian delight. Rave reviews about the family-style platters and vegetarian dishes make this a must-try. You’ll find succulent Mehaberawi (chicken leg) and traditional tibs dishes and doro wat. Watch out for their veggie combo, vegetarian platters and fluffy injera bread. They also offer a list of Ethiopian beers and a handful of cheap domestic brews and imports. The small restaurant isn’t much as far as ambiance goes, but the authentic dishes and service make up for it.

Rasika

The upscale Indian restaurant packs flavor with a menu that showcases tawa (griddle), sigri (open BBQ), tandoori and different regional Indian dishes. Rasika offers small plates and even a wine cellar with international bottles that pair well with Indian food. Favorites include the paak chaat with dried spinach, yogurt and taramind and dates. There are also plentiful vegetarian and naan options, and the tori and raita plates are also spot on.

Little Serow's si krong muu: pork ribs with mekhong whiskey and dill
©T.Tseng/Flickr

Little Serow

The upscale Thai bistro, Little Serow, is home to a rotating menu with seasonal ingredients. The restaurant serves a set, family-style dinner of northern and northeastern Thai dishes. Prepare yourself for meals made with traditional Thai ingredients like nam prik num with shrimp chips or tender pork ribs. Changes to the menu are not allowed, and dinner always includes pork, seafood and nuts. Only groups of four or fewer are accepted. Seating is first come, first serve in this charmingly rustic, simple dining area.

Izakaya Seki

The trendy, high end sushi restaurant features options for Japanese small plates and noodle dishes. Their pork belly katsu on a stick is a favorite with its tender brisket, making it a great appetizer to share. Their menu is subject to change, but you can always find staples like the sashimi platter, with its fresh fish choices (including toro), and the Ojiya soba noodle dish. They also feature a sizable beer list.

The delicious scallop sashimi dish at Izakaya Seki.
©Alicia/Flickr

Las Canteras

Mixing Latin American and Peruvian recipes, Las Canteras in Adams Morgan offers a vibrant dining area with red walls and intimate lighting. A mix of traditional and contemporary Peruvian dishes are presented artistically. The menu contains vegetarian options as well. You’ll find favorites like seco de carne (beef stew) and arroz con pollo. The Peruvian favorite offers an early bird special Tuesday to Thursday from 5pm to 7pm with a three-course dinner. In the Los Andes Bar you can order a pre-dinner Pisco Sour, the refreshing house cocktail. Or choose any of the cocktails from the Latin drink list.