The city savvy folks from D.C. Metro Food Tours took our group on a walking tour of Little Ethiopia on our first full day in Washington. The tour centered around the U Street Corridor and Shaw neighborhoods, taking us through the heart of the world’s largest Ethiopian enclave outside of Ethiopia. The vibe in this part of town couldn’t have been any more different than the one we left in Capitol Hill. The gritty streets and laid back feel was a refreshing change of pace.
I was introduced to Ethiopian cuisine my first year out of college while living in Oakland, California. The name of the restaurant has since escaped me, but the tastes and memories from that meal remain quite vivid. From the sour-tinged injera to the syrupy sweet honey wine to the sensation of eating with my finger tips, Ethiopian food left a great impression on me and I’ve adored it ever since.
Our tour began at Zenebech Injera, arguably the best Ethiopian restaurant in the District according to our tour guides. In addition to serving up some of the city’s best food, Zenebech also provides the injera for a bulk of the area’s restaurants. For those unfamiliar with Ethiopian cuisine, injera is a spongy and springy flat bread made of teff flour. It is not only used to deliver food into one’s mouth, but it doubles as a serving platter as well.
The smiling and amiable Ms. Zenebech gave our group an injera making demonstration before feeding our eager bellies. Cameras weren’t allowed inside her kitchen, but this video on YouTube captures the experience quite well. In layman’s terms, injera is like a steamed sourdough pancake.