A World of Flavor
Published: Friday, February 1, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 1, 2013 01:02
Dahlak Restaurant | 1771 U St. NW
Get your hands a little dirty and experience real Ethiopian food. The most popular and cost-effective dishes are the vegetarian combination and Dahlak tibsi combination. These platters have samplings of six vegetable and six meat tibsi, respectively, and are served with the traditional, spongy, Ethiopiand flat bread enjera. Make sure to wash our hands thoroughly before eating: you are given no utensils, because the enjera is your utensil. This leads to some messy, but enjoyable eating. To sample the various vegetable and meat dishes, rip off a piece of the enjera and use it to pick up pieces of meat, sauce or seasoned vegetables. When shared, the meal was incredibly well-priced, and the U Street atmosphere made this a fun outing with friends that I highly recommend.
Bukom Cafe | 2442 18th St. NW
For those who have never tried West African cuisine, Bukom Cafe is a great place to ease yourself into the traditional flavors of Accra, Ghana. The atmosphere is bar-like, with music in the background and the occasional live reggae band on the stage. The menu ranges from the traditional ox-tail stew or goat’s meat entree to its famous Mama’s hot wings.
I tried the chicken yassa, which was served with perfectly cooked fried plantains and seasoned rice. This tender chicken and onion dish was served in a light sauce with capers on a large plate and was perfect for sharing. I asked to get the suya (beef kebab) appetizer dish at the same time as my entree and received three flavorful and mild kebabs served with onions and tomatoes.
The suya was absolutely delicious and the chicken yassa exceeded expectations. To top it all off, Bukom is open until 2 a.m. and is a perfect late-night stop for anyone looking for some food after a night in Adams Morgan or Dupont or on U Street.
Keren Restaurant | 1780 Florida Ave. NW
Upon entering Keren Restaurant, I felt like I was transported to a humble and aroma-filled hut in Keren, Eritrea. The dried-palm wallpaper mimics the interiors of traditional Eritrean huts, and the faux-windows display painted scenes of everyday life. Upon learning that this was my first time at the restaurant, the waiter immediately gave me a full rundown of the menu and the history behind the food.
Keren boasts a traditional and hearty breakfast menu from which I tried two customary Eritrean dishes. The fuul (crushed fava beans) with egg was filling and rich and was nicely complemented by Keren’s house-roasted, -ground and -brewed coffee.
The waitress even brought out the Eritrean coffee beans as they were being roasted and allowed us to smell the intoxicating scent. I sampled the kicha with meat, which deviated from what I would consider conventional breakfast; the spicy barley, bread and meat combination was offset nicely by the yogurt sauce to make a delicious entree. The dishes are very well-priced for the large portion size, and the setup makes it ideal for groups.