Washington’s ethnic enclaves have moved over the years, as transportation, suburbanization and gentrification have redrawn our regional map. Here are the new locations rich in international cuisine and supplies. Not sure where to begin? We’re including recommendations from The Post’s Tim Carman.
The District’s first Chinatown, established in the late 1800s along Pennsylvania Avenue, gave way to construction for Federal Triangle in the early 1930s. The community re-congregated around Seventh and H streets NW. The construction of Verizon Center in the mid-1990s started a wave of development that eventually claimed almost every Chinese restaurant and market there. Today, your best bet for finding an array of Chinese storefronts is in Rockville, Md.
Recommended: East Pearl Restaurant, 838B Rockville Pike, Rockville.
Try spicy dumplings, fried sea bass with black-bean sauce or the seafood congee.
The District has drawn Africans for many reasons: its capital city status, its African American political leadership and historically black Howard University. Ethiopians who arrived after the 1974 overthrow of Haile Selassie gathered in diverse and already-gentrifying Adams Morgan. As rents increased, many businesses moved to Shaw (unsuccessfully petitioning in 2005 to have a strip of Ninth Street designated “Little Ethiopia”). Now, you can also find Ethiopian storefronts in Silver Spring, Md., and Alexandria, Va.
Recommended: Lucy, 8301 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring
Try kurt (pieces of raw rib-eye wrapped in injera, and dipped in sauce) or girgiro, red-wine-marinated meat simmered with Ethiopian butter.
Central American employees of U.S. diplomats began coming to Washington in the 1960s. They were followed in the 1970s and ’80s by fellow citizens, especially Salvadorans, fleeing war and poverty. Many established themselves in Mount Pleasant, which was still recovering from the 1968 riots. But by the 1990s, gentrification had started forcing immigrants to the suburbs (those tensions, plus feelings of disenfranchisement, led to the 1991 Mount Pleasant riots). There’s a notable Salvadoran presence in Maryland’s multicultural Langley Park — called the International Corridor — and in Manassas, Va.
Recommended: Pupuseria El Comalito, 1167-C University Blvd., Takoma Park, Md.
Try frijoles con ayote (beans with cheese and squash) or loroco con queso (cheese with a Salvadoran flower bud pupusa).
After the 1975 fall of Saigon, South Vietnamese refugees settled in Northern Virginia, probably because of connections with military and CIA personnel. The Vietnamese hub was in Arlington County’s Clarendon neighborhood until its Metro station opened in 1979. New development pushed the businesses west to a shopping center at routes 7 and 50 in Falls Church. That strip mall became Eden Center, which now has several buildings and about 120 stores and restaurants.
Recommended: Nha Trang, 6757 Wilson Blvd., No. 7-8, Falls Church.
Try nem nuong cuon Ninh Hoa (grilled pork rolls), fresh summer rolls and pho with noodles made in-house.
There has been a Korean community in Washington since the opening of the Korean Embassy in 1949. But the larger influx of immigrants did not occur until the 1990s, and many arrivals chose Fairfax County, perhaps drawn by the public schools. Soon there was a flourishing group of stores and restaurants in Annandale catering to the Korean community. With the continuing growth of the population, clusters of businesses are also opening in Centreville, Va., and Germantown, Rockville and Silver Spring, Md.
Recommended: Il Mee Buffet, 7031-A5 Little River Tpk., Annandale.
Try the all-you-can-eat buffet, plus kimchi pancakes and bulgogi cooked at your table.
Elizabeth Chang is an editor in the Magazine; Tim Carman writes for the Food section and is the $20 Diner.
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