Judging Restaurants – Dukem

When we judged nearby Etete Dukem, located at 1118 U St, NW, was also mentioned. And I noticed (I think) they just got a new sign – so I think it’s time for a proper of judging of Dukem not in comparison to others – but just Dukem. According to their Web site:

Dukem (pronounced DUK-em) named after a small city found south of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital. The name “Dukem” brings nostalgic memories of the best ‘Tire Siga’ ( fresh red meat ) -a delicacy; it also brings up memories of leisure weekend travel as most families, friends that travel to the resort areas of Nazareth, Sodere, Langano and Awasa stop by Dukem on the way back to Addis Ababa.

It is with this tradition of Dukem city that Dukem Restaurant is founded in Washington DC. For most Ethiopians when they are at Dukem Restaurant they feel like they are back in Ethiopia as they meet and see old friends, catch up on family and friends separated by the Career focused busy American way of life. It’s this reason why most out of towners stop by Dukem first as they arrive to DC and why they make Dukem their last stop on their departure from the city.

You can see their menus here. Any fans? Any must order items?

42 Comment

  • OK. Just ok, but I suspect I made bad choices of items for myself the one time I went there.

  • Delicious. But then again, my only experience with Ethiopian cuisine

  • sitting outside, eating their ramadan special, drinking a st george. perfect dc night.

  • I think they’re one of the better Ethiopian places in town. They’re miles above Meskerem. You can’t go wrong with their fried Tilapia. The decore and atmosphere is good too.

  • not one of the better ethiopian places in DC, but not awful either. etete blows this place out of the water.

  • my fav Ethiopian restaurant

  • Etete is better, but Dukem is respectable, larger, and doesn’t it turn a little clubby at night? Never been but that always sounded fun.

  • They’re atmosphere is the best in DC for an Ethiopian Restuarant. But me being an actual Ethiopian, the best food in the district is at Etete on 9th and U St NW.

  • this place is ok, but there are many better options on 9th street. its reputation is far better than the food. dukem is located farther west than most ethiopian restaurants on u st, and that’s probably why more people have heard of it. personally, i prefer little ethiopia on 9th

    • Ethiopian restaurants used to be on 18 streets and Columbia road area in the 90’s, then new places opened near 14 street, then more came to the 9 and U area. So Dukem is known because it has been there for a while in comparison to other business, and definitely long before the newer places on 9 and U streets. It is safe to say that the Ethiopian businesses helped a lot in establishing forgotten hoods along the U street corridor.

  • My husband and I stumbled upon Dukem during our visit to DC to find a place to live. Since we’ve moved here, we’ve made it a point to go back. Granted, I’m no expert on Ethiopian food, but Dukem’s food was delicious. On our first visit there, the owner was eating his own lunch and saw me coveting his dish. He graciously shared. We’ll continue going back for the food, the service and the atmosphere.

  • dukem is good, but i like the food at madjet even better. tiny little restaurant, but oh so delicious.

  • I’ve heard the Beef Tartar (raw) is just the thing to cure a hangover.

  • The food is not bad at all. But the service can be hit or (more often) miss. The last time I went (approx. year ago), I ordered an appetizer, which they forgot about. They then brought it *after* we were all done eating our meal. Who wants sambusa for desert? Didn’t ask if we still wanted it. Didn’t offer not to charge for it. When the bill came, the three entrees (other than the sambusa and drinks) did not correspond to what we’d ordered. Since we were late for a show and it only came out $2-3 high, we just paid. However, I have not been back.

  • I go back and forth between dukem, etete and madjet. etete has the most consistently awesome food, but dukem has large portions, friendly staff, more elbow room, outdoor seating, and generally chill vibe. love it. i usually let them recommend something to me. my favorite is the lamb wot but everything is pretty swell.

  • Call me a child of the 90s, but every time I look at the sign I think of “Duke Nuke ’em”.

  • Been pretty disappointed with Dukem the last couple of years…their food has been getting consistenly more oily, at least on the weekends when we’ve been going (I seem to recall that weeknights were better back in the day).

    Etete is good, but if you don’t mind a trek, then Queen of Sheba (9th & P) is completely awesome, more like Dukem was 6-7 years ago. It tends to be full of Ethiopians most evenings.

    • I shouldn’t even tell anyone, but I can’t resist- Fasil on 7th. Cheaper, better, weirder.

  • We prefer Dukem over Etete and Meskerem. I’ve been to Etete 4 times, and I’ve consistently had mediocre experiences/food. Dukem is reliable and excellent. The scene/music there can be really fun some nights as well. The only place I know of that has better Ethiopian food is Tegeste. Given that Tegeste is super close to our place and they finally got a liquor license, we haven’t been to Dukem in a while.

  • People actually like ethopian food?

  • As a vegetarian I find sharing one of their large vegetarian “fasting” specials (which is not on their website) is the best vegetarian Ethiopian experience I have had so far. Beats the others in variety and flavor. But would not mind other suggestions if someone can think of an Ethiopian place with as much veg variety on one plate.

    • the ramadan fasting menu has a crazy number of dishes on it. nothing in town gets you that much. enough to easily share for 2 at like 9 bucks each. its a great deal.

      but, the vegetarian combo plate at ethiopic is, imho, better quality.

  • I go to the market next door more than the restaurant to buy berbere, other spice mixes and injera. It’s really cheap, they’re really nice and I agree with Veg that the vegetarian options are great for both take-out and dine in. The coffee ceremony on Sunday is also really interesting …

  • Yummy & a great, fun environment.

  • love it! went with friends during fasting last time and they ordered shrimp tibs – new to me, but yum. all the veggie stuff + lamb and beef tibs rock.

  • I like Dukem, and, like others, their Ramadan special (which is available all year, not just during Ramadan!). If you split it between two people it’s a great deal.

    I eat meat but I think their vegetarian platters are much better than the non-vegetarian – you get a better variety of items, and they are more flavorful. I’m also a fan of their whole grilled fish. Only thing I haven’t enjoyed are the sambusas, which are pretty bland.

  • PoP- apparently Dukem is adding a second floor, per permitting and DC Historic Preservation files.

  • It’s good, I like their veggie platter with grilled fish.

    I prefer to go during the week when it’s not so crowded and the service is better. In nice weather, the patio is great (but what patio isn’t?)

    Axum is my favorite, I also like Meskerem. Not a fan of Etete, and I just tried the new place on 14th St (Tegeste) & was very disappointed. I miss Fasika’s.

  • novadancer

    like some others, Dukem is my choice for ethiopian (Fasika’s was my fav for years until they closed). I don’t eat much meat, so the veggie combo is my go to meal. I have been to Etete several times and wasn’t too impressed with their veggie platter fwiw.

  • Dukem uses the dancing to distract you from the fact that the food really isn’t that great. For Ethiopian in that area, Etete has the best food, while Lalibela has a great neighborhoody atmosphere. Dukem feels like an Ethiopian food factory.

  • I tried Dukem once. The food was only ok, and half of it was lukewarm. And this was during a time when the restaurant was packed.

    Etete used to be one of my favorites, but I think it’s gone downhill steeply in the past year. The last time that I went, the fish had shrunk in size by at least 2/3, but the price had gone up. And one of the dishes (recommended by the waitress) was bleh – not bad, but we left the restaurant hungry, with food on the plate.

    My favorite is Queen Makeda, but someone told me it closed?

  • I love Dukem! Try the Dukem Special Tibs – lamb. Yum!!!

    I’d like to try Etete but it always looks so small and trendy. Dukem is much easier to deal with.

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