Dukem Ethiopian Restaurant, Washington, DC

1114 U St NW
Washington, DC 20009

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Dukem Restaurant

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202.667.8735 DC
410.385.0318 MD

by Danielle Bussone

Dukem Ethiopian Restaurant is the oldest Ethiopian Restaurant in Washington, D.C and has been voted the best Ethiopian Restaurant in area newspaper polls for the past four years running. Dukem’s is located in the heart of D.C. and was the most expensive of the Ethiopian restaurants we visited. I suspect this has something to do with the high price of the real estate in this area of the city.  The atmosphere is casual, there is a full bar and entertainment which is very loud.  Once diners began to fill the restaurant, we could hardly hear each other over the din of customers and music.  The entertainment consists of Ethiopian musicians and singers and runs from 11pm-3 am Fridays and Saturdays and until 2 am on Sundays.  We arrived just as the Wednesday cultural show began from 7 pm-10 pm which includes Ethiopian drums, music and costumed dancers.

The prices ranged in combination platters from 4 vegetarian items for $12.00 to 7 items for $16.45. The choice of any single vegetarian plate was $13.25. The combinations contain selections of the usual Ethiopian fare, spicy split lentils, yellow peas, greens, cabbage, shiro, salad, chickpeas in a spicy sauce and/or potatoes in a spicy sauce.

We ordered from the Dukem Special page of the menu, which they purport to feed 4 people.  It included 16 items, including those mentioned previously, plus others for $27.50.  I don’t know if it was because we were starving by the time we fought D.C. traffic to finally meet up with our friends at the restaurant, but we ended up ordering a second platter in order to satisfy our ravenous appetites. Most of this got left behind.  I did notice that we were served only one piece of injera for two persons.  While it was larger than the usual injera portion, it was not enough in my opinion.  The food was very good however and we definitely enjoyed our meal.  There were plenty of options for your carnivorous companions.

If you want to have an intimate conversation in a relaxing atmosphere you may want to avoid the entertainment hours.  If you want to enjoy good food in a place that is more of a “happening” than a dining experience you will most likely love it.

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