Image: Platter of Veggies.
Last Updated: October 2022
Current Status: Open for sit-down and carry out seven days a week.
Dukem remains reliably good. The long-time stalwart of Ethiopian dining has a menu anchored by classics, spicy meats and fresh servings of lentils, potatoes and other vegetable options. The tibs, cubes of sauteed beef or lamb with the kick of jalapenos and other spices, are a favorite. The stewed vegetables retain flavor and brightness. The restaurant holds down a corner spot with a large covered patio area (mosquito spray available on request in summer). The setting is relaxed to match the leisurely pace of a meal meant to be shared and talked over. The beers include a few sourced from African breweries and make a good pairing.
Ethiopian cuisine is one of the great contributions to the D.C. area. Refugees and relatives starting coming a few decades ago and carved out a spot in D.C. Over time, the community that used to center in Adams Morgan, and then U Street moved to other places. The cuisine, however, became a staple of the local food scene. For those unfamiliar with it, Ethiopian cuisine generally uses no utensils. A crepe-like, spongy bread called injera is used to sop up the food. Many dishes will arrive on flat circle of injera, dotted with the various portions of vegetables and meats that you ordered. See picture above. To pose the question of the best Ethiopian is to invite a some very strong opinions, but over the years Dukem retains its popularity for a reason.
Other Guidance: The setting is casual. It can get busy on weekend nights. You can get special orders of Injera without wheat for GF diners. GF Injera combined with lots of veggie dishes, make it (and other Ethiopian places) great for groups regardless of dietary restrictions.
Neighborhood: U Street
Address: 1114-1118 U St NW, Washington, DC 20009
Reservations: On Website: http://dukemrestaurant.com/content/reservation
Washington Post: Tim gave them a shout-out a few years back, but did not include on his Top 10 Ethiopian places in 2018.
Washingtonian: Can’t find a single mention the website.
Tyler (from 2006, with very categorical Cowen take).