Hi :) I came up with an idea to survey my readers and friends because I want to know where you like to go for some good Ethiopian grub. I’ve had my share of good, bad, entertaining, satisfying, and disappointing experiences at various DC area Ethiopian restaurants. I have my faves and the ones I will avoid at all costs. There are those I would recommend in a second and others that I think don’t deserve to have customers period.The last encounter I had at a restaurant was last week when an American friend expressed interest in trying Ethiopian food for the first time. Oddly enough, she and another young lady were headed to Ethiopia the next day, to visit and research for a couple of months. I told her nothing we have in DC can compare to the original back home but we went out nonetheless.
But picking a spot proved difficult for me. You’d think having so many options right here in Washington, DC, (i.e., “Little Ethiopia”) would have made my job easier but no, it only made it complicated. I’m sure there are well over 50 (my wild guesstimate) Ethiopian restaurants and shops in D.C., Maryland and Virginia combined. But I certainly haven’t been to all of them. I tend to frequent the same ones that I’m used to or am familiar with. So I narrowed it down to U Street because of its convenient location. First I thought Dukem because it has a nice dining atmosphere and features dancing and cultural performances certain nights a week (I forget which days it is). But I’m not a big fan of Dukem’s lackluster customer service or some of their dishes (mainly the doro wot and any kind of wot they serve there, which all basically taste like cardboard :/) My mom told me a long time ago to never order wot at Ethiopian restaurants, never. And I’ve usually followed that advice, with very few exceptions.
So I wanted to pick a place that would leave my friend and her travel partner with a positive impression and get them pumped up for their trip. I decided on Little Ethiopia restaurant (RIP), owned by famous Ethiopian singer Yehunie Belay and his wife. But when we got there, we found out that it’s now closed! Sad day. I was surprised (sort of). I mean, it has been a while since I’ve been there but probably not more than a year. And each time, there were always very few customers around. But I attributed that to different factors like the times and days I happened to visit.
But alas, no more Little Ethiopia. I liked the place because of its beautiful and authentic decorations. It had a very unique setup and the waitresses even came with a jug of water and pail so you can wash your hands right there before eating, saving my lazy behind from having to make a trip to the restroom.
One main thing that sparked this whole survey idea is a Dukem review I read on Yelp, written by an Ethiopian:
I agree with her; some non-Ethiopians try our food and fall head over heels in love, which is fine but they also have nothing else to compare it to, like home-cooked, original Ethiopian food. But on the same token, I’ve also seen critical reviews by some who might be ‘foodies‘ or have frequented enough Ethiopian restaurants to make a sound judgment. I just thought it’d be super cool to have reviews and feedback from natives who can provide more balanced and accurate opinions.
So let me know what you think below!