Neighborhood: U Street
With Official Friend of DCWD Swizzle's mother in town, Official Friend of DCWD Juju and I joined up with them, and the four of us headed to U Street to eat at Dukem.
Dukem sits in Little Ethiopia, the section of U Street/Shaw that over the last decade has become a hotspot for expats, a trend best exemplified by the rise in the number of Ethiopian restaurants. Part of this transformation involves restaurants populating spaces that housed other things; this fact is the primary thing that strikes you about Dukem. The inside looks like an Irish pub, with a giant square mahogany bar central to the space.
In fact, the only differences seem to be some carved and painted grape bunches and stars on the wood, and a few Ethiopian decorative touches. Otherwise, the bar and its surround wooden everything setting very much is like a bar, from the small stage to the large outdoor patio to the immense amount of noise that comes from the group tables and booths on a crowded Saturday night.
For the four of us, we ordered Combo 6, which came with four meat components and five vegetarian parts, all with a healthy helping of injera bread (for the uninitiated, injera is the sponge-like bread that is both absolutely delicious, but also expands in your stomach and fills you in 15 minutes or less).
First the meats: the doro wot, a chicken stew simmered in ginger sauce with garlic, onion, and herbal butter with boiled egg. This was the mild version; the spicy version comes with a Berber pepper sauce. Then, the minchet abesh, ground beef braised in milled ginger and garlic sauce, resulting in an oily paste with a little bit of a kick. And then two of my favorites, tibs, or beef strips fried with onion, and rosemary, and the lamb wot. Paired with the stewed vegetables, which included chopped spinach, cabbage, and tomatoes, they were juicy and well-cooked.
I'm not a Ethiopian food expert, but this was excellent. Definitely on par with the Ethiopian food I ate with Ethiopians... though in Malawi.
Food Rating: *** (out of 5)
Date Rating: 2.5 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code: Casual
Bar Rating: Hipster Hangout to Suits Scene
Vibe: Energetic to Noisy
Cost: $$ (out of 5) ($25-$50 for two)
Pairing: Dance the night away at the U Street Music Hall across the street.