Ethiopian dining may not be for every family but on a recent trip to Washington D.C. with my preschooler and toddler we discovered its delights without going far off the beaten path.
Ethiopian Dining Around U Street
After spending the morning at the National Zoo carrying a 25 pound toddler this mom was ready for a break. But after a little down time by the pool, we were ready for a more interesting dining experience than our usual fare. Picking a place can sometimes be daunting, especially when trying to find a restaurant that is both interesting and kid friendly. However, Washington D.C. has the largest Ethiopian population for a metro area in the United States, so we knew we had multiple options.
The scents and smells of exotic spices filled the air in “Little Ethiopia,” as we walked past the shops along 9th and U Street . Not sure where to go yet, we saw another family walking into the well regarded Etete Ethiopian Restaurant. Bingo! Thinking there was strength in numbers, we followed them in.
The restaurant warmly welcomes families and we were brought upstairs where another family with young children was already eating. My anxiety of being the only family with potentially uncooperative kids was put to rest and I ordered a honey wine called Tej. Tej is similar to mead but with a heavier consistency and a very potent punch. The dad ordered an Ethiopian beer called Harar, which is a pilsner style beer and complemented the spicy and flavorful meal well.
Ethiopian cuisine typically consists of spicy meat and vegetable stews (called Wat) that are served on a large circular tray layered with Injera bread. Injera is a sourdough flatbread with an almost sponge like consistency. Mom and dad enjoyed a spicy chicken dish of Doro Wat and Kitfo, a seasoned minced meat stew. An array of absolutely delicious condiments accompanied the main dishes.
Chili pepper is abundant in Ethiopian dishes, so we ordered an overpriced spaghetti as a safety measure for the kids just in case nothing else satisfied them. The little one wasn’t interested in eating but, thankfully, an assortment of woven drums and instruments kept him occupied. Although utensils were provided, most Ethiopian meals are eaten using your hands and served on one family style bread layered tray.
Ethiopian is a fun meal to share with the family! The meal was fantastic and a real treat since options like these are not available in the Capitol District.