September 21, 2015 · 11:04 AM
We are huge fans of Ethiopian food, and we heard that Washington D.C. had a thriving Ethiopian food scene,
we were extremely excited. There were so many restaurants to choose from, and we were excited to see Eritrean options as well. We had tried Eritrean food previously in Philadelphia, and we were happy to revisit it. Since Ethiopia and Eritrea were the same country until the early 1990s, the cuisines are very similar, though there are some subtle differences, especially the greater prevalence of seafood on the menu because Eritrea is coastal. Keren Restaurant (named after the 2nd largest city in Eritrea
) is located in the bustling D.C. neighborhood of Adams Morgan, which has a wide variety of restaurants of all cuisines. We arrived at Keren on a Saturday night, and when we arrived there was a good mix of college kids and families. The atmosphere was convivial and cozy, and the restaurant was simply decorated with murals of Eritrea (plus a surprising number of TVs).
The menu at Keren is very small in terms of traditional dishes, there are only a handful of either meat or veggie options. We also noticed a sizable Italian selection, including pasta and breaded chicken cotoletta
, which makes sense since Eritrea is a former Italian colony. We were also excited the Keren delved into some more unusual options. For example, there were a wide selection of breakfast options featuring Ful (mashed fava beans) and Silsi (a traditional tomato-based sauce). We ordered the beef tibs and the veggie sampler (lentils, chickpeas, cabbage, spinach and potato dishes) to share among ourselves. We were pleasantly surprised that each entree was less than $10, which is far lower than most comparable restaurants. In addition to the injera, we got an order of traditional Eritrean unleavened wheat flat bread called Kitcha,
which we had not seen on any other menus. Kitcha was definitely denser and more pita-like than injera and we have to admit it was much easier to eat with the injera since it was much more flexible.
We enjoyed all of the choices we sampled: the sauces were rich and flavorful (not too spicy), and there was definitely something to satisfy both meat-lovers and vegetarians. We finished up the night with an Eritrean coffee (it was billed as a coffee shop after all), which was very similar to the Ethiopian coffees we had tried previously. We highly recommend Keren as an awesome place to get delicious, low-key Eritrean food, with no pretense, and at great prices.
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