For an exotic change of taste, try beef or lamb tibs with injera, a thin doughy Ethiopian bread made with fermented millet. This delicacy is now more readily available in Washington because of the growing number of Ethiopian restaurants. Be prepared to eat with your hands: that's the Ethiopian tradition. Restaurant specialties and price ranges are noted.
AE (American Express), DC (Diners Club), CB (Carte Blanche), MC (MasterCard), V (Visa), C (Choice). "Free parking" indicates the establishment has a parking lot; otherwise, expect street and commercial parking. "Full bar" indicates the restaurant has a license to sell spirits, wine and beer. "Reservations" indicates the restaurant requires reservations.
Axum Ethiopian Restaurant, 2307 18th St., NW. Tel.: 232-8844. Hours: 11:30 a.m. to midnight every day; bar open until 2 a.m. Cards: AE, MC, V, C and travelers' checks. Full bar. Reservations. Entree price range: $1.95 to $7.95. Specialties: Ethiopian and Sudanese cuisine, such as minchatbish (a mildly spiced beef stew), kitfo (top round steak sauteed in butter and spices),beef and lamb tibs, Sudanese shish kebab (beef, tomatoes, onions and rice with a special seasoning) and molukuia (a green vegetable stew), as well as Ethiopian lettuce prepared with jalapeno.
Bethel Restaurant and Carryout, 2452 18th St., NW. Tel.: 234-7747. Hours: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday. Cards: Cash or travelers' checks only. No bar. No reservations. Entree price range: $3.50 to $5.50. Specialties: lamb and beef tibs, kitfo, gunfoe (barley flour porridge flavored with butter and hot pepper), kinche (cracked wheat cereal-like breakfast food), genfelfil (injera soaked with spicy meat sauce, dabo (loaves of Ethiopian bread made with semolina flour), as well as American cuisine such as eggs and hamburgers.
The Blue Nile Restaurant and Lounge, 1602 17th St., NW. Tel.: 232-8400. Hours: noon to 3 p.m. for lunch and 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. for dinner Sunday through Thursday. Noon to 3 p.m. for lunch and 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. for dinner Friday and Saturday. Cards: AE, MC, V. Full bar. Sidewalk cafe. Reservations required for weekends. Entree price range: $4.95 to $8.50. Specialties: shrimp dishes, beef, lamb, chicken, fish and shrimp tibs, kitfo and a vegetarian platter, all served with injera.
Fasika's Ethiopian Cuisine, 2447 18th St., NW. Tel.: 797-7673. Hours: 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. every day. Cards: AE, DC, CB, MC, V, C. Full bar. No reservations. Entree price range: $4 to $8.50. Specialties: dulet (chopped liver and lamb tripe seasoned with a spicy herb butter), yebeg wat (lamb stew with side vegetables), lega tibs (lamb cubes fried in oil with hot peppers and onions), kitfo, bozena shivo (pureed yellow peas) and for dessert, Kahlua mousse, creme caramel and American ice cream.
Meskerem Ethiopian Restaurant, 2434 18th St., NW. Tel.: 462-4100. Hours: Noon to midnight every day. Cards: AE, DC, CB, MC, V, C. Full bar. Reservations for Friday and Saturday evenings only. Entree price range: Lunch $5 to $7 and dinner $6 to $9. Specialties: shrimp wat (shrimp in berbere sauce--a hot spicy sauce), kitfo, a vegetarian combo of cabbage, lentils, collard greens and two salads of the day, and Meskerem tibs (lamb sauteed with onion, green chili and butter).
The Red Sea Ethiopian Restaurant, 2463 18th St., NW. Tel.: 483-5000. Hours: Noon to 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, noon through 3 a.m. Friday through Saturday. Cards: AE, DC, CB, MC, V, C. Full bar, including a wide range of imported beer. No reservations. Entree price range: $3.95 to $7.15. Specialties: yebeg wat, doro alecha (chicken simmered in a herb butter sauce), zilzil wat (beef strips simmered in berbere sauce, lega tibs, yemisir kik wat (pureed split red lentils in berbere sauce), kik alecha (pureed yellow split peas with green pepper, onion, herbs and butter,Desserts include flan and American chocolate or carrot cake. All dishes served with injera.