For Ethiopian food fans, Washington, D.C. is an essential dining destination. The nation’s capital is home to a large Ethiopian population, making it an epicenter of Ethiopian cuisine. Historically, Little Ethiopia developed at the intersection of Ninth and U Streets NW following the initial waves of Ethiopian refugees to the District in the 1970s and ‘80s. Since then, D.C.’s vibrant Ethiopian community has grown to include areas in Northern Virginia and Maryland. Below, check out the 10 best Ethiopian restaurants in the DMV region.
Large portions, a calming atmosphere and delightful dishes are what keep regulars coming back to this cozy spot located in Northeast D.C. The platters easily serve multiple people and can be customized depending on dietary restrictions. They’re paired with injera — a sour fermented pancake-like, slightly spongy flatbread traditionally made of teff flour — that is delectably soft, and the sambusas and lamb tibs are fan favorites.
Formerly Zenebech, an Ethiopian restaurant and injera bakery for about 30 years, Elfegne is run by the same family with a distinct culinary vision. At this Adams Morgan spot, diners are treated to enormous platters piled with various vegetables and hearty stews. Don’t miss the flavor-packed tibs—lamb, beef, or short rib—and the traditional Ethiopian craft beers and tej (honey wine).
Located in the heart of D.C., near the U Street Corridor, Chercher is a great place to grab a bite before or after exploring the city. This relaxed eatery serves regional Ethiopian dishes, including vegetarian options, plus wine and beer. The injera is fresh and the stews are bursting with flavor — some standout dishes include doro wat, a spicy chicken stew with a hard-boiled egg, and gomen, which are collard greens cooked with garlic, onions and spices.
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Looking for a warm, inviting place for a casual breakfast? Heat Da Spot is calling, because this chill café has a little bit of everything, from bagel sandwiches and waffles to delicious coffee and comfy sofas. Pro tip: Try one of the housemade iced teas — blood orange, peach, pear and raspberry — for a refreshing treat.
Ghion is the place to go for melt-in-your-mouth lamb and essential Ethiopian delights like spicy split lentils and cabbage and carrots. The overall vibe is homey and understated, complete with brick walls and worn-in red leather booths. It’s an ideal spot for a feast with friends, a casual date night or a solo escape to spice up your lunch break.
Located along D.C.’s bustling H Street corridor, Lidu’s Kitchen is a relatively new addition to the District’s Ethiopian food scene. This counter-style spot is on the smaller side, but don’t overlook it purely based on size. House favorites include the shiro — ground highly seasoned chickpeas cooked with onion, tomato, oil and a touch of berbere — and the singe karya, a jalapeño pepper stuffed with finely minced jalapeño, tomato and onions.
Das, an Ethiopian gem in the heart of Georgetown, isn’t just about the generous portions and spiced platters. It’s about transporting your taste buds to a whole new world. Imagine fluffy injera bread soaking up stews bursting with fragrant berbere spice, tender lamb bathed in rich red wat and earthy lentil stews that’ll warm you from the inside out. Plus, veggie friends rejoice: Plenty of plant-based delights, like spicy shiro stew and gomen greens, are on the menu, too.
Spices filling the air, spongy injera bread like little flavor clouds waiting to scoop up fragrant stews, and a chic, welcoming vibe — that’s Letena in a nutshell. This restaurant is a culinary adventure that’s worth it every time, starting with the tender lamb, rich lentil stews and gomen greens with garlic and onions. The atmosphere is magical-meets-memorable, thanks to warm amber lighting, Ethiopian artwork along the walls and maybe even some chill Ethiopian tunes playing in the background.
Want to teleport straight to Addis Ababa? When a transatlantic flight isn’t an option, look no further than Hawwi in Alexandria, Virginia. This hidden gem is simmering with authentic Ethiopian magic, from the doro wat, a spicy chicken stew in a red pepper sauce that’ll make your eyes water in the best way possible, to the baba ghanush, creamy eggplants puréed with tahini, lemon, garlic and ginger served with pita bread. Save room for dessert — the rice pudding and lemonade vanilla cake are a must-try for sweets enthusiasts.
Consider Shagga to be a secret spice portal of deliciousness. This Hyattsville, Maryland restaurant is well-loved by locals for its affordable prices, friendly service and portion sizes that usually result in taking home leftovers. Popular dishes include the fish stew, lamb tibs and kik alicha (split peas sautéed with onions, garlic and herbs).
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