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May 15, 2012 03:43 PM

What great ethnic chow in DC won't I find in NYC?

I'll be visiting for a long weekend, doing most of my eating in the District proper though I'll be staying part of the time in Silver Spring. More-casual fare preferred; atmosphere not so important; any neighborhood OK, at least while I'm walking about solo.

I've explored New York's multinational foodways in depth, but I'm sure that Washington has much to offer that's less familiar to me. Burmese, Ethiopian (for breakfast), and American Southern are three possible avenues of chow. What else would you suggest? Thanks in advance.

Dave Cook

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  1. Senegalese? Chez Aunty Libe is in DC toward Silver Spring. I adore it, though best with a few friends. Yassa chicken, maffe, manioc, whole fish, and if you call in advance thiackry for dessert.

    For Coastal Carolina Soul Food in DC, go to Oohs and Aahs for the shrimp and grits with peppers and onions, lemon pepper wings, and broiled (do not get the fried) crabcake. Four stools in front of a tiny kitchen plus a place upstairs to eat.

    Those are my top two choices given your location. Others:

    In DC, there is a secret Ghanaian restaurant, Akosombo, with a buffet that has a few good items (whole fish in red pepper sauce, plantains, black eyed peas), and a bunch of other stuff. YMMV.

    Also in DC, Sumah's is Sierra Leonean. You can try about seven different types of greens there. Show some interest and he will give you a sampler.

    There is a Cameroonian place in Silver Spring which just reopened, Roger Miller. Not nearly as good as Chez Aunty Libe, but with some unique dishes.

    In Northern Virginia there is a huge Bolivian community with several very good places, also a Yemeni restaurant with some good dishes. Plus a Lao place with a fiull-on Lao menu, a separate menu for their Lao customers, and the proprietress can prepare other dishes off-menu. This place is fantastic.

    I have long admired your website and have used it when visiting NYC. If you give me a shout, I could possibly get a few people together......

    2 Replies
    1. re: Steve

      Ghana Cafe is also tasty - I love their fish stew.

      1. re: Steve

        Thanks, Steve! As it happens, the long weekend in question is this weekend, and I'll be slotting in my dining adventures in between family time, so a get-together isn't in the cards. Another weekend when I can give more notice, perhaps!

        Dave Cook

      2. I think the obvious choice in DC for ethnic food that is not in NYC is the abundant choices of Ethiopian Restaurants. You can easily search dc page since this topic has been repeated multiple times.

        3 Replies
        1. re: dining with doc

          Mandalay Cafe in Silver Spring for Burmese. Southern- try Levi Port Cafe

          1. re: agarnett100

            Second Levi's. Deep fried pork chops, collards, Mac and cheese at a fraction of the price at Oohs & Aaahs. Easier to get a seat, too.

            1. re: agarnett100

              I'm surprised Steve didn't mention Myanmar in Falls Chuch and Bangkok Golden 3 (for Lao food) in Vienna. Myanmar in particular has a far more diverse menu as well as better flavors than Mandalay.

              (Grace Garden and to some degree Hunan Taste both have things I've never found elsewhere, even at much lower quality, but they're pretty far afield.)

            1. For Southern I would highly recommend Sou'Wester in the Mandarin Oriental. Make sure to get the hushpuppies. Although I had a fairly southern meal at the lounge in CityZen right next door the other week that was phenomenal.

              1. Not ethnic per se, but definitely regional, is the local take on barbecue: the pit beef sandwich. Not something you'll find in NYC. If you have access to a car, a trip to Chaps or Pioneer Pit Beef is in order, although the A&W Pit Beef truck in Jessup or Expressway Pit Beef in Odenton are closer to Silver Spring.