DC has always been the go-to city for Ethiopian food, and considering that the metro is home to over 250,000 Ethiopians, this should be no surprise. Add to that it's vegetarian and vegan friendly cuisine, as well as the communal dining aspect, and you have a dining experience that is good for groups and eaters with dietary restrictions.
Here are some of the top places to enjoy a communal Ethiopian meal around here.
Dukem has become a mainstay on the U Street corridor, and its signature doro wat, the chicken dish that sits in a thick sauce spiced with berbere, garlic, and cardamom is a beautifully flavored dish that is perfect to scoop up with the spongy injera. Open for lunch and dinner, the restaurant also has live music frequently.
Ethiopic on H Street NE is one of the more upscale Ethiopian restaurants in the city, but that does not take away from the authenticity and deliciousness of the food there. Their vegetarian platter is delicious, as is the chickpea shiro and the fried fish. But one of the highlights is the beef tibs – beef marinated and sautéed with onions, garlic, chilies, tomato, and herbs, an excellent combination of savory, spicy, and sweet. This would be a great spot to take someone who is apprehensive about trying a new cuisine.
Although Zenebech closed its doors in Shaw in 2016, it recently reopened in Adams Morgan and still continues to be as delicious as it always was. To get a sampling of dishes, your best bet is the “Mehaberawi” platter, which comes with 4 vegetarian dishes, and 4 of the meat dishes. They also have an extensive selection of “tibs” which combined with a vegetarian platter will easily serve as a meal for two.
After being recommended by the Michelin guide as a Bib Gourmand inclusion, the popularity of Chercher has skyrocketed. It may be a bit of a wait to get a table, but the food really does make it worth it. The deluxe vegetarian combo is the way to go here. Ten vegetarian items served on an injera platter, this is more than enough food for atleast 3 people, and the flavors and spices are totally spot on. I guess those Michelin inspectors know a thing or two about food!
A kitschy neighborhood spot in the midst of Shaw, their menu has a number of platter offerings with vegetarian and meat options, and also all the other typical Ethiopian dishes found – tibs, wats, etc which are hearty and flavorful. One of the more unique dishes on the menu combines tomatoes and fresh ground peanut butter with injera pieces.
Keren in Adams Morgan is Eritrean, which is close to Ethiopian in flavors, and definitely needs a mention. Their breakfast platters are a great change from the typical breakfast fare, and their unassuming restaurant with a familial atmosphere, fair prices, and hefty portions hits the value button on all fronts.