by Borderstan.com December 17, 2012 at 12:00 pm 1,080 1 Comment

From Chelsea Rinnig. Email her at chelsea[AT]borderstan.com. 

At the blending of U Street and Shaw neighborhoods, Ethiopian food overflows platters and plates 24/7. Classics like Dukem are mainstays of the neighborhood and considered a must on the DC eating bucket list. Little Ethiopia and its flavor is a must for local and visitors.

"Ethiopia"

Dukem at the corner of 12th and U Street s NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Dukem for years has topped the city’s “Best Of” lists and receives the highest accolades and reviews. Its outdoor patio overlooks the bustling U Street bar scene while its next-door mini mart offers quick take-out and a small selection of grains and spices.

Dukem is a great setting for a larger party, and two platters provides plenty of food for a group of six-to-eight.

I recommend the beef tibs as an addition to a spicy platter — served on top of the edible placemat “injera” are “wots,” or stews, of a variety of meat and vegetable tastings. Dukem also offers vegetarian platters as well as a mild option for the more sensitive diners. I personally do not have the palate for the sweet honey wine called “Tej,” but the verdict is that it is the perfect complement to authenticate the experience.

Dukem: The Details

  • Where Am I Going: 1114 – 1118 U Street NW
  • When Am I Going: Sunday to Thursday from 9 am to 2 am. Friday and Saturday from 9 am to 3 pm.
  • Delivery: No, but they do have carry out.
  • Paycheck:  $20 will provide you with plenty of food.
  • Say What? Be ready to enjoy your food with certain level of noise during weekend nights.
  • What You’ll be Eating: Ethiopian fare at its best.

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by Borderstan.com December 14, 2012 at 12:00 pm 1,583 1 Comment

From Chelsea Rinnig. Email her at chelsea[AT]borderstan.com.

Last week I profiled some of Borderstan’s Ethiopian restaurants (Etete, Habesha Market and Dukem) that bring the flavors of Ethiopia to the neighborhood. But beyond these highly recommended, Zagat rated bests, there are another three Ethiopian restaurants in Borderstan that stand out as some of the most authentic, affordable and flavorful wots this side of the Atlantic Ocean.

Zenebech Injera, Selam Café and Lalibela may not look like much from the outside, but their character, service and clientele all speak to the successful replication of Ethiopian cuisine.

Ethiopia’s Culinary Tradition

Before I get into the meat of it; however, allow me to give you a background on Ethiopia’s culinary tradition. The most unique part of Ethiopian dining is the “injera” — the edible, round, flat bread that serves as both plate and cutlery for the wot ordered. Injera is gluten-free and made from teff, a grain grown in some, but few, parts of the United States.

In an Ethiopian restaurant, you will rarely see a spoon or fork and instead be served plenty of injera. Tear it apart and pinch your food with your fingers. Whatever you do, do not fill the injera with wots and make a burrito, just go along with the experience and get your hands dirty!

"Ethiopia"Zenebech Injera, a family owned operation, makes its own injera by shipping teff in from the parts of California and Iowa that still grow it.  Atop the pillowy, sponge-bread, I ordered a vegetarian platter. The shiro came more like a gravy and was not only flavorful by itself, but also mixed well with the various other wots of potatoes and red and yellow lentils.  Zenebech Injera’s wots were the cleanest and least oily of all the Ethiopian restaurants I went to and I highly recommend you give it a try.

Two More Favorites

One thing I truly appreciate about Ethiopian food is that it is balanced and fairly healthy. It is easy to accommodate vegetarians, vegans and gluten-free alike. Lalibela offers a variety of options and a homey atmosphere. A mixed platter of vegetables and meat shared with a friend is more than plenty.

The platter features not just one option of tibs, but four different meat dishes as well as a hard boiled egg and vegetables. The beef tibs were incredible and the chicken was also flavorful. Lalibela was a bit greasier than some of the other restaurants I tried, though — great for a cold night when you want something hearty and warming, just be sure to ask for plenty of napkins.

"Ethiopia"Selam tops my list as one of my favorite discoveries on this journey. At 15th and U Streets NW, the unassuming location is actually underground. The warm and welcoming staff, mostly made up of a group of sisters, are all immensely amicable and happy to share their suggestions. I would gladly return for the regular wot platters but, if you are interested in grabbing something the morning after a night out, Selam offers a few cheap and delicious breakfast options for you to try.

Ful is the perfect breakfast — Selam serves this bowl full of beans, tomato sauce, fresh tomatoes, onions, peppers, and olive oil with a basket of rolls and a dollop of yogurt on top. For only five dollars, I’d eat this Ful every weekend and then some. The friendly atmosphere at Selam, welcoming not only from the staff but also its diners (who you can tell are also regulars), makes Selam the best Ethiopian dining experience in Borderstan.

For more on Ethipian Flavors Check part I

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by Borderstan.com December 7, 2012 at 10:00 am 1,279 0

From Chelsea Rinnig. Email her at chelsea[AT]borderstan.com. 

Ethiopia is 60 percent Ethiopian Orthodox Christian — a religion that requires its members to fast quite often, including most Wednesday and Fridays and sometimes for weeks at a time before holidays.

The thought of refraining from meat, dairy, eggs and sex may cause some to hark back to Billy Crystal’s famously and probably insensitive joke from the classic When Harry Met Sally: “Hey, I didn’t know that they had food in Ethiopia. This will be a quick meal. I’ll order two empty plates and we can leave!”

At the blending of U Street and Shaw neighborhoods, however, Ethiopian food overflows platters and plates 24/7. Classics like Dukem are mainstays of the neighborhood and considered a must on the DC eating bucket list. While others, like Lalibela or Habesha Market quietly nestle between storefronts.

Part I profiles the famous Ethiopian of the District while Part II explores the lesser-known stores that hopefully outlast gentrification–as their authenticity brings us another kind of unique culinary experience. Just make sure you and your friends have washed your hands first!

"Ethiopia"Dukem Restaurant at 12th and U streets has for years topped the city’s “Best Of” lists and receives the highest accolades and reviews. Its outdoor patio overlooks the bustling U Street bar scene while its next-door mini mart offers quick take-out and a small selection of grains and spices. Dukem is a great setting for a larger party, and two platters provides plenty of food for a group of six-to-eight.

I recommend the beef tibs as an addition to a spicy platter–served on top of the edible placemat “injera” are “wots,” or stews, of a variety of meat and vegetable tastings. Dukem also offers vegetarian platters as well as a mild option for the more sensitive diners. I personally do not have the palate for the sweet honey wine called “Tej,” but the verdict is that it is the perfect complement to authenticate the experience.

3 of My Favorites

"Ethiopia"Etete Restaurant around the corner at 9th and U streets is equally as good as Dukem to me and priced similarly to Dukem. The sambusas are larger though and delicious – a must try – and the vegetarian platter is incredible. An add-on of Tegabino Shiro is a wonderful addition poured into the center of the various wots and rounds out a meat-free meal with a smoky taste.

I will caution though that the wines are quite expensive compared to the price of the food itself, and a store-bought cheap bottle easily runs up the tab on what would have been a relatively inexpensive meal. Etete’s two floors give it plenty of space though, with no need for reservations while maintaining a more intimate experience.

"Ethiopia"Habesha Market across the street is the least known of the three and may be my favorite, as it embodies the whole experience of the food itself. The front end of the market is positioned similar to a typical carry out. However, the back end contains not only wall-to-wall shelves of dried grains, injera and other specialty products, but a full view into the kitchen.

True, it makes the food itself appear a bit more like it’s coming out of a cafeteria lunch-line, but the smell and the price are savory enough to overlook the details. A full Doro Wat of six vegetarian choices costs less than $10, leaving you extra money to buy a beer or two right there (the market has a liquor license). Rumor told me that the owner is a sibling of the owner at Dukem, so one has to trust a good family recipe at a fraction of the price!

Next week, I will profile three more Ethiopian restaurants as well as provide a fuller background of Ethiopian culinary tradition.

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by Borderstan.com April 13, 2011 at 7:20 am 0

Borderstan, P Street NW, Bar Number 9, Logan Circle

The sign for Bar Number 9 went up this week at 1435 P Street NW. It is going in the former Mova space. (Photo credit: quarterback202)

From Michelle Lancaster. Tell me what I missed on Twitter @MichLancaster.

Sign Goes Up for Bar Number 9

Or is it Bar Number Nine? Anyway… although it is not ready yet, Bar Number9 will go into the space formerly occupied by Halo/Mova at 1435 P Street NW. Number 9 owners Ed Bailey and John Guggenmos were part owners of Halo before it became Mova, and are also the owners of Town Danceboutique at 8th and U Streets NW. Mova owner Babak Movahedi told Borderstan during in January that he was planning to reopen somewhere in the U Street corridor. See P Street: What Replaces McCormick at 1460? Bar #9 at 1435? from March 20.

Mayor, City Council Members Arrested

Save your snarky jokes, kids. They were arrested for civil disobedience at Monday’s protest of DC’s treatment during the federal budget debate, reports the The Washington Post. Mayor Gray, along with DC Council Chair Kwame Brown and Councilmembers Tommy Wells, Muriel Bowser, Yvette Alexander, Sekou Biddle and Michael A. Brown.

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by Borderstan.com October 15, 2009 at 4:00 am 1,178 0

El Sol, at 1930 9th St NW. (Photo:Luis Gomez)

El Sol, 1930 9th St. NW. (Photo: Luis Gomez)

Rice Restaurant, at 1608 14th St NW. (Photo: Luis Gomez)

Rice Restaurant, 1608 14th St. NW. (Photo: Luis Gomez)

Solly's Tavern, at 1942 11th St NW. (Photo: Luis Gomez)

Solly’s Tavern, 1942 11th St. NW. (Photo: Luis Gomez)

El Sol is located at 1930 9th Street NW in what is known as Little Ethiopia, but the menu is Mexican-Salvadoran. The food has great reviews is has affordable prices.

Rice Restaurant, is located at 1608 14th Street NW. Always a favorite of ours. The menu is delicious with a variety of East and Southeast Asian choices… the food is beautifully presented with a very nice atmosphere. Make reservations if you are planning to go on a weekend.

Solly’s is located at 1942 11th Street NW, and it is a place to go and have a beer or three; your neighborhood bar… very laid-back atmosphere. Don’t count on getting any food there.

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by Borderstan.com September 24, 2009 at 5:00 am 1,425 1 Comment

Here are my picks for things to do during the weekend in Borderstan, really close by or in the city… restaurants, galleries and theater.

U-Topia, 1418 U St. NW.(Photo:Luis Gomez)

U-Topia, 1418 U Street NW. (Photo: Luis Gomez)

La Carbonara, 1926 9th St. NW.(Photos: Luis Gomez)

La Carbonara, 1926 9th Street NW. (Photo: Luis Gomez)

Local 16, 1602 U St. NW.(Photo:Luis Gomez)

Local 16, 1602 U Street NW. (Photo: Luis Gomez)

U-topia at 1418 U Street NW is a great spot on the U street corridor. Jazz and art come together to help you celebrate an excellent meal… Brazilian jazz on Thursdays, 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.

La Carbonara at 1926 9th Street NW is in Shaw’s Little Ethiopia. This recently opened Italian restaurant has received mix reviews, from excellent to bland, perhaps depending on the day of the week. If you are feeling adventuresome, give it a try and let us know.

Local 16, at 1602 U Street NW is a nice place to go during the week. The weekend is totally different and it can get crowded and uncomfortable. The menu is American food with an Italian influence. Local 16 has a beautiful roof top deck.

Ink Storm at Transformer, 1404 P St. NW. (Image:www.transformergallery.org)

“Ink Storm” at Transformer Gallery, 1404 P Street NW. (Image: transformergallery.org)

"Mirage Series" by Steve Alderton at Touchstone Gallery, 406 7th St. NW.(Image:www.touchstonegallery.com)

“Mirage Series” by Steve Alderton at Touchstone Gallery, 406 7th Street NW. (Image: touchstonegallery.com)

"Color, Texture and Mood" by Michele Cormier at Touchstone Gallery, 406 7th St. NW. (Image:www.touchstonegallery.com)

“Color, Texture and Mood” by Michele Cormier, Touchstone Gallery, 406 7th Street NW. (Image: touchstonegallery.com)

“Ink Storm” at Transformer Gallery, 1404 P Street NW: “This exhibition highlights how artists CHEN Shaoxiong, DAI Guangyu, and Paula TSAI, three emerging Beijing based artists who re-interpret and re-invent traditional Chinese uses of ink through video, drawing, and mixed-media installation, incorporate ink into their work, ink, and how each individual exploration offers compelling contributions to contemporary art discourse.”

Mirage Series” by Steve Alderton at Touchstone Gallery, 406 7th Street NW: “The series includes portraits, cityscapes, still-lifes, and landscapes. One landscape includes what appears to be two farm structures viewed from across a field; the hot, shimmering light of a summer’s day has had its effects. Another painting shows a cityscape, with a mass of loosely rendered buildings. In both works, the atmosphere has seemingly blurred many of the specifics–but there is enough information in the watery images to transfix and invite one in. The artist’s technique successfully conveys the essence of his message, but also effectively leaves room for personal interpretation. The result is strong and engaging.” (more…)

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