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Waitman

Dama Cafe, Pastry Chef Almaz Dama and Barrista Hailu Dama's Ethiopian in South Arlington and Annandale

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Dropped in last night on recommendation of a friend who's about as Ethiopian as you can be if you were born in Wisconsin. I wasn't too keen on the usual round-up of stewed lentils-- bland -- though others liked the yellow peas (Mrs. B will translate) quite a bit. Spicing that might have been in the lentils was apparently reserved for an excellent kitfo, fresh and very spicy, maybe my favorite ever. And I particularly enjoyed a firfir (also spelled "fitfit," on the menu once or twice) made with a tangy spice mixture tosses with injera and dried beef.

Well worth a stop.

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Although you wouldn't know it from their website, this is related to the Dama Cafe in Silver Spring. Of particular note are the desserts, made by Almaz Dama, former White House Pastry Chef under President Clinton.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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The yellow lentils (kik alitcha)were a particular standout. Our daughter ordered an additional course to take to school today. I enjoyed a bit of the leftover kitfo this morning for breakfast. It was even good cold from the fridge. I agree the other veggies seemed a bit on the underspiced side. I liked the flavor of the dried beef dish but was put off by the meat's texture (even though I love beef jerky), it just didn't work for me with the softened injera. I will return.

FWIW they don't appear to have a liquor license.

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We had dinner at Dama (the one in Arlington on Columbia Pike towards the Pentagon). There's a cafe side and a restaurant side, and we were in the restaurant.

This was the first time we were there, and the interesting thing about their menu was that in addition to the usual stuff (and a breakfast menu), they have vegetarian versions of meat dishes, e.g, vegetarian tibs, vegetarian doro wot, etc. The menu didn't describe the dishes further so out of curiosity, I ordered the vegetarian doro wot. We were wondering if it would just be a hard boiled egg, no chicken, with the sauce. It turned out to be two fake chicken drumsticks -- a short plastic stick posing as the bone stuck into a hunk of what seemed to be seitan. And the "hard boiled egg" wasn't a hard boiled egg. It was an oval-shaped white and yellow mystery. We couldn't figure out what it was made of. The sauce was like the familiar doro wot sauce. Taking the seitan for what it was and not as something that was supposed to taste like chicken, I liked the dish except for the fake egg. It made for an interesting change. We also ordered the vegetarian sampler with the usual lentils, split peas, greens, cabbage potato carrot stew, and salad, and those dishes were as expected and enjoyed. We didn't have enough room for dessert but will need to try to save room next time to sample the pastries.

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I've had the Kitfo here a few times now and I'd say its the best I've had in the area (compared to Zenebach and several random places I've tried on 9th st.) and its worth the extra dollar(s?) for the 'special' kitfo that gets you a few extra accouterments. Finally got around to trying the veggie sampler recently and shockingly there was only one clunker out of 4 dishes. The collards were lacking some zing but the other red/yellow/lentil dishes were all great and flavorful. Ambiance is of course lacking, but takeout portions are plentiful and its South Arlington location by a convergence of highways is convenient. I'm always surprised this place hasn't caught on more with the non-cab driving population.

They also have several varieties of injera for sale - including 100% teff - in the market next door.

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How's the location in Silver Spring?

Closed, and reopened (presumably under new owners) as Bete Ethiopian.

I think (though I'm not sure) that the closing of the Silver Spring Dama means that there are no more Ethiopian chains in the DC area. Dukem has a branch in Baltimore, but I can't think of any place that has two DC-area locations (although I could swear that there was one DC restaurant that had a second location in Warrenton, or Manassas, or something like that; I can't find it).

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Well, the Arlington location is definitely thriving. Had dinner there with friends Monday night and thought it is better than Meaza.

The only issue I had was I'm used to having my injera being warm--they served it on the cold side. We ordered doro wot, lamb ribs, and veggie combo. Everything tasted much like Dukem in the old days.

It'll be nice to go back. Especially for their desserts.

Do skip the Ethiopian tea or ask for it more authentic style. It was rather on the weak side....

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I drove by the closed Gangnam Sushi restaurant on Little River Turnpike in Annandale today, and I saw a sign that Dama Ethiopian is replacing Gangnam.  I searched the internet and found this blog post from August.

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I drove by the closed Gangnam Sushi restaurant on Little River Turnpike in Annandale today, and I saw a sign that Dama Ethiopian is replacing Gangnam.  I searched the internet and found this blog post from August.

So do you think it's safe to assume that this will be a second location for Dama, and not a replacement location? The location now is a *dive*, and I mean a *dive* - they own three businesses side-by-side-by-side (bakery, market, and cafe), and I'm pretty sure it would be more economical to abandon / sell / tear-down than it would be to renovate.

They are *such* nice people. I adore watching working-class Ethiopian gentlemen enjoying their breakfasts at the little bar in the bakery before heading off to do whatever it is they do - the breakfasts look really good (I've only had the pastries and the coffee, and honestly, the pastries are very typical of ethnic (i.e., non-French) pastries - kind of dry, don't sell very quickly, etc. - they're more for the cultural experience than the culinary experience).

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I dined at the new Dama location in Annandale earlier this week. I was really happy that they were opening, although I am quite content with Enat just down the road. Unfortunately, although the service was good the food was not. Everything was extremely salty and the injera was served cold. I wanted to love this place but I doubt I will be back to give it another try unless you all convince me it has improved. FWIW, I ordered the vegetarian platter and every dish except for the salad was both salty and overly-pureed. Oh well. It was worth a try.

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