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Injera from Ethiopian Teff.
Diners dig in to a platter at Dukem
Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images

14 Essential Ethiopian Restaurants Around D.C.

Where to feast on spicy stews, lentils, and spongy injera.

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Diners dig in to a platter at Dukem
| Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Ethiopian food is an integral part of D.C.’s restaurant scene. Refugees who fled their war-ravaged nation in the 1970s and ’80s settled in the District and kept their culinary traditions alive. The District became home to so many Ethiopian restaurants near the intersection of Ninth and U Streets NW that the area became known as Little Ethiopia. Adams Morgan's much-loved Meskerem set the standard until its 2015 closing, but for the most part, options for Ethiopian food have only grown and improved with time.

Standout Chercher is in the midst of an expansion, with current locations in Northwest D.C. and in Bethesda. Beloved Zenebech returned to action in Adams Morgan following a 2017 fire. From U Street to Silver Spring to Falls Church, the region’s hungry residents are never far from an Ethiopian feast. In Park View, Tsehay is one of the most recent additions to this map. In late November, Mimi’s Ethiopian BBQ opened for carryout and delivery from an underserved area east of the Anacostia River.

Here is where to go for the best doro wat, injera, tibs, and more.

D.C. is shutting down indoor dining from Christmas Eve through January 14. Many restaurants offer outdoor seating, but this should not be taken as endorsement for dining out, as there are still safety concerns. The Washington Post is tracking coronavirus cases and deaths in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. More information can be found at coronavirus.dc.gov. Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines.

—Updated by Lisa Ruland

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Beteseb Restaurant

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Silver Spring has no shortage of good Ethiopian food, but Beteseb distinguishes itself with food bursting with flavor and spice. The injera is made entirely from teff grain, unlike many American-adapted injera that incorporate wheat flour. It’s open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week for takeout and limited dine-in. Try the breakfast firfir combo (scrambled eggs, seasoned cracked wheat, spiced bread) or buttery bula porridge.

Beteseb [official]

This Hyattsville restaurant’s recipes have been handed down for generations, so don’t expect any fusion or trend-setting dishes. The menu features Ethiopian standards, including split pea-centric shiro, chili-fueled awaze beef, and a boiled egg-topped chicken stew known as doro alicha. It’s open for delivery and takeout.

Tsehay Ethiopian Restaurant And Bar

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A relative newcomer to D.C.’s Ethiopian restaurant scene, Tsehay has already earned a reputation for fresh and deeply flavorful cuisine rooted in Ethiopian home cooking. Co-owner Salem Gossa and her sister Sara make 100% teff injera daily. Their mother’s love and recipes inspire the select menu. The vegan combination platter lets customers sample six dishes at once, while the tibs are not to be missed.

A vegetable platter at Tsehay
A vegetable platter at Tsehay
Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Zenebech

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This celebrated, decades-old Shaw institution relocated to Adams Morgan in 2017, but fire damage caused an extensive delay in opening. Thankfully, Zenebech reopened in August 2018, serving its iconic lamb tibs, curry goat, and marinated ground beef, known as kitfo. Call in takeout orders.

Zenebech [official]

Dukem (Multiple locations)

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This one-time carry-out spot has evolved into a full-service restaurant, with a second location in Baltimore. Fans know to order the vegetable-filled sambusa pastries, chile-spiked fava beans (a breakfast favorite), and zesty doro wat chicken stew. Before the pandemic, Dukem had a late-night club vibe with live Ethiopian music. For now, get carryout every day from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m..

Keren Cafe & Restaurant

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Keren Café is technically Eritrean, but the Adams-Morgan mainstay serves a wide menu of well-made crossover cuisine. Order a ful dish at breakfast, and don’t miss the cinnamon-infused house tea. Open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day for takeout and delivery.

Habesha

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This combination carry-out, restaurant, and market is open all day and evening, but it’s a mainstay for breakfast. Visitors kickstart their mornings with ful, featuring mashed fava beans alternately heated and cooled by jalapenos and yogurt, as well as kinche, a savory bowl composed of cracked wheat and spiced butter.

Habesha [official]

Chercher (Multiple Locations)

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This Shaw restaurant earns widespread praise, including a Bib Gourmand nod in the Michelin Guide. Named after the West Hararghe zone in Ethiopia’s Oromia region, Chercher serves sautéed short ribs, fried tilapia, and ginger-spiked lamb stew complemented by tej, a regional honey wine. Eventually, the new Bethesda location will be followed by an Arlington outpost. Order online here.

This bright, elegant restaurant on M Street in Georgetown serves Ethiopian food on white tablecloths. The menu features traditional fare like lentils, collard greens, and beef tibs, as well as a several new takes on old favorites. The front patio tables make for excellent people watching. Das also offers takeout and delivery.

Das [official]

Ethiopic

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This H Street NE restaurant continues to impress with its classic take on sizzling lamb, fried fish, and vegetarian dishes such as simmered green beans and curried potatoes. Check out a new menu of “Ready to Cook” meal kits, and the Ethiopian beer sampler to go.

Meaza is usually a hive of activity, serving as sit-down restaurant, market, and event space. The Falls Church watering hole has adapted to Covid restrictions, but visitors can still enjoy the full food menu, Ethiopian coffee service, and tangy injera, baked fresh throughout the day.

Meaza [official]

Abay Market

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This neighborhood spot in Falls Church may be best known for luring Anthony Bourdain for a meal. But Abay’s real fame lies in owner Alemayehu Yonas‘s focus on serving high-quality beef — grass-fed only, with some dry aged cuts — in multiple preparations, from marinated cooked tibs to kifto tartare.

Family-run Enat — the name actually means “mother” in Ethiopian — boasts all manner of meat dishes, including tibs flanked with onion and peppers, spiced lamb tripe, and tartare-like kitfo bolstered by herb butter.

Enat [official]

Hawwi Ethiopian Restaurant

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Warm, family hospitality and generous portions of dishes using local ingredients characterize this tucked-away Old Town Alexandria spot. Owner Hanane’s mother taught her to cook at age 12 and remains an inspiration. The awaze beef tibs, doro wat, and vegan sampler are must-tries. Hawwi makes its injera fresh, with 100 percent teff.

Kelly Loss / Open Kitchen DC

Beteseb Restaurant

Beteseb [official]

Silver Spring has no shortage of good Ethiopian food, but Beteseb distinguishes itself with food bursting with flavor and spice. The injera is made entirely from teff grain, unlike many American-adapted injera that incorporate wheat flour. It’s open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week for takeout and limited dine-in. Try the breakfast firfir combo (scrambled eggs, seasoned cracked wheat, spiced bread) or buttery bula porridge.

Beteseb [official]

Shagga

This Hyattsville restaurant’s recipes have been handed down for generations, so don’t expect any fusion or trend-setting dishes. The menu features Ethiopian standards, including split pea-centric shiro, chili-fueled awaze beef, and a boiled egg-topped chicken stew known as doro alicha. It’s open for delivery and takeout.

Tsehay Ethiopian Restaurant And Bar

A vegetable platter at Tsehay
A vegetable platter at Tsehay
Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

A relative newcomer to D.C.’s Ethiopian restaurant scene, Tsehay has already earned a reputation for fresh and deeply flavorful cuisine rooted in Ethiopian home cooking. Co-owner Salem Gossa and her sister Sara make 100% teff injera daily. Their mother’s love and recipes inspire the select menu. The vegan combination platter lets customers sample six dishes at once, while the tibs are not to be missed.

A vegetable platter at Tsehay
A vegetable platter at Tsehay
Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Zenebech

Zenebech [official]

This celebrated, decades-old Shaw institution relocated to Adams Morgan in 2017, but fire damage caused an extensive delay in opening. Thankfully, Zenebech reopened in August 2018, serving its iconic lamb tibs, curry goat, and marinated ground beef, known as kitfo. Call in takeout orders.

Zenebech [official]

Dukem (Multiple locations)

This one-time carry-out spot has evolved into a full-service restaurant, with a second location in Baltimore. Fans know to order the vegetable-filled sambusa pastries, chile-spiked fava beans (a breakfast favorite), and zesty doro wat chicken stew. Before the pandemic, Dukem had a late-night club vibe with live Ethiopian music. For now, get carryout every day from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m..

Keren Cafe & Restaurant

Keren Café is technically Eritrean, but the Adams-Morgan mainstay serves a wide menu of well-made crossover cuisine. Order a ful dish at breakfast, and don’t miss the cinnamon-infused house tea. Open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day for takeout and delivery.

Habesha

Habesha [official]

This combination carry-out, restaurant, and market is open all day and evening, but it’s a mainstay for breakfast. Visitors kickstart their mornings with ful, featuring mashed fava beans alternately heated and cooled by jalapenos and yogurt, as well as kinche, a savory bowl composed of cracked wheat and spiced butter.

Habesha [official]

Chercher (Multiple Locations)

This Shaw restaurant earns widespread praise, including a Bib Gourmand nod in the Michelin Guide. Named after the West Hararghe zone in Ethiopia’s Oromia region, Chercher serves sautéed short ribs, fried tilapia, and ginger-spiked lamb stew complemented by tej, a regional honey wine. Eventually, the new Bethesda location will be followed by an Arlington outpost. Order online here.

Das

Das [official]

This bright, elegant restaurant on M Street in Georgetown serves Ethiopian food on white tablecloths. The menu features traditional fare like lentils, collard greens, and beef tibs, as well as a several new takes on old favorites. The front patio tables make for excellent people watching. Das also offers takeout and delivery.

Das [official]

Ethiopic

This H Street NE restaurant continues to impress with its classic take on sizzling lamb, fried fish, and vegetarian dishes such as simmered green beans and curried potatoes. Check out a new menu of “Ready to Cook” meal kits, and the Ethiopian beer sampler to go.

Meaza

Meaza [official]

Meaza is usually a hive of activity, serving as sit-down restaurant, market, and event space. The Falls Church watering hole has adapted to Covid restrictions, but visitors can still enjoy the full food menu, Ethiopian coffee service, and tangy injera, baked fresh throughout the day.

Meaza [official]

Abay Market

This neighborhood spot in Falls Church may be best known for luring Anthony Bourdain for a meal. But Abay’s real fame lies in owner Alemayehu Yonas‘s focus on serving high-quality beef — grass-fed only, with some dry aged cuts — in multiple preparations, from marinated cooked tibs to kifto tartare.

Enat

Enat [official]

Family-run Enat — the name actually means “mother” in Ethiopian — boasts all manner of meat dishes, including tibs flanked with onion and peppers, spiced lamb tripe, and tartare-like kitfo bolstered by herb butter.

Enat [official]

Hawwi Ethiopian Restaurant

Kelly Loss / Open Kitchen DC

Warm, family hospitality and generous portions of dishes using local ingredients characterize this tucked-away Old Town Alexandria spot. Owner Hanane’s mother taught her to cook at age 12 and remains an inspiration. The awaze beef tibs, doro wat, and vegan sampler are must-tries. Hawwi makes its injera fresh, with 100 percent teff.

Kelly Loss / Open Kitchen DC

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