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Little Ethiopia in DC

Today I bring to you the second installation of my DC staycation.

I was thankful to Destination DC for not making us get up early on Friday morning! I was able to sleep in till 10 am, go to the gym, have a bite of Teaism's salty cookie and only then did I have to meet my fellow food enthusiasts in the lobby of the hotel for a Walking Tour of Little Ethiopia presented by DC Metro Food Tours.
When I received the itinerary for the tour, I was surprised not to see the Ethiopian restaurants I typically visit: Roha, Etete, and Dukem. But I was eager to try out other smaller Ethiopian restaurants in the DC area.

When we got off the tour bus (it was SO nice being shuttled the entire weekend), I saw a group of people and a giant pile of watermelons: I could not resist but take a photo. I absolutely love watermelon, especially in the heat of summer.

Our first stop was Zenebech Injera Deli and Grocery (608 T St NW) where we witnessed how injera is being made. What is injera? It's similar to a very thin pancake or a crepe, but is served at room temperature and has more of a yeasty flavor to it. Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to take photographs of the injera making process.

The injera is made from teff flour. It is cooked on a large flat surface and unlike pancakes, it's cooked only on one side. The injera is then stacked into piles of ten and can be purchased at the store.

But we were there to eat! The food was served family style on big platters. Below is a vegetarian platter: lentils, chickpeas, greens, tomato & jalapeno salad, and beet salad. I've never seen beetst in an Ethiopian restaurant before, but this was a happy surprise as I love beets. The food, if you don't know this, is eaten with your hands and injera is used to scoop up little portion of each of the offerings. The best part, in my opinion is the injera that is right underneath the food: it's soaked with the juices and spices and full of flavor.

The second platter had both cooked and raw beef. I was rather afraid of raw beef, but I gave it a chance and loved it! It was almost like eating tuna carpaccio. This platter also had the same tomato/jalapeno salad, and a very mild home-made cheese: something along the lines of ricotta. It was a great accompaniment to the spicy meat.

And finally, the last dish was chicken stewed in spices and a boiled egg. I'm usually not a fan of dark chicken meat (or turkey for that matter), but the spices in the sauce took care of that. The meat was tender, spicy and comforting despite it being 80+ degrees outside.

Our second stop was at the Habesha Market & Carry out (1919 9th St. NW). Here we tried something I've never had before: Ethiopian breakfast food. (Below is our lovely guide Sarah.)

This is not only a restaurant, but also a mini store: check out the colorful lentils!

This is definitely my kind of breakfast: chunks of lamb with jalapenos, tomatoes and onions:

Grain pilaf:

This dish reminded me of a Sunday breakfast I might make at home: an omelet with a side of stewed beans (or leftover chili) and a spoon-full of sour cream:

A stew of tripe and tongue (I did not try tripe: I've had it before in pho and just can't handle the rubbery texture. The tongue, however, I loved. My mom cooked tongue when I was growing up, so I'm no stranger to this delicacy)

We ended the tour with a coffee ceremony at the Little Ethiopia Restaurant (1924 9th St NW).

In Ethiopia, coffee ceremony takes at least three times a day and lasts for hours. Our version was a bit shorter ;)

The beans were first roasted, then ground and then made into a thick, strong coffee.

This restaurant makes you feel like you are as far away from DC as possible: and sometimes that's not a bad thing.

Coffee is served:

This was a lovely way to find out more about Ethiopian culture, to visit some of the less known places and to sample really good food.

Next up: Dinner at Birch & Barley. If you have read my blog for a while, you know how much I loved their brunch. Will I feel the same about dinner? Come back and find out!


stylefyles said...

nice timing! They just did Ethiopian on Top Chef. I've never been to DC long enough to experience the culture or do anything touristy, but once I finally make it to the city, I'll be sure to catch some Ethiopian food as sustenance before hitting up the major landmarks.

Alyssa Shelasky said...

I dont know if I should be crying that I wans't on this trip with you, or smiling because I was just transported by your words and pictures. SO cool. I just tried Ethiopian last week at Etete and had a wonderful experience. xx Alyssa

The Duo Dishes said...

DC's Little Ethiopia puts LA's small strip to shame. Such a rich culture, but our neighborhood is much smaller with less restaurants and shops. This looks like a fabulous day spent eating!

Jen said...

Looks like fun! You know how much I love my Ethiopian food....this is making me hungry!

Anonymous said...

As an Ethiopian stuck in New Jersey, I yearn for some delicious Ethiopian food every other day. I was so happy to find your blog from
Those are some really good photos that bring the essence of the food and your description of the dishes was amazing as it was truly close to what the dishes are and how they actually taste. My parents in North Carolina prefer to make their own Injera as they claim that the commercial ones contain too much salt. However, not having the luxury of fresh ingredients as well as lack of Ethiopian market, I am not picky at all. As a grad student, I prefer to cook my own small budget meals but when I do go out, I prefer the Ethiopian restaurants in DC and once in a while if I am in LA, Awasa restaurant in Little Ethiopia is my food haven.

OneTribeGourmet said...

I love D.C. for its diverse ethnic neighborhood! lovely pictures...making me hungry! :)

Amanda said...

I would love to do this tour sometime! My nephew is adopted from Ethiopia (he's 12) and sometimes makes food from home. I've never had the chance to try it yet and would love to learn more about his culture. Thanks for sharing this experience!