Aside from American and Southern food, Washington DC also has several ethnic gems in the city. Keren Restaurant that specializes in Eritrean food is one of them. I walked by the place before, while on my way to another restaurant, naturally, and I had an opportunity recently to go for lunch.
I got the Keren Special, which is the vegetarian combination with a side order of beef grilled in Eritrean spices(chicken is also an option). And this colorful plate of a variety of stews and curries on top of a large piece of injera bread came to me. In the middle is the grilled beef, which is a decent cupful that the waiter poured steaming hot onto the injera bread in front of me. As per custom, the injera bread plate came as is, and the waiter gave me an extra serving of injera bread that is essentially my utensils to help me scoop up the food, because Eritrean food is entirely eaten by hand. For someone who have not had a lot of Eritrean food, there were a lot of messy fingers. But the food was delicious. I ordered mine with medium spice and the restaurant delivered. All the different side dishes had distinct flavors and a little heat in them, but the spice did not overwhelm the other flavors. The beef was also really tender, flavorful, with just a little heat. I really liked the fact that the combination came with so much veggies. In the picture, each small pile of food may not seem like much, but at the end, I was so full, I could not finish.
I really enjoyed eating at Keren. My plate came to about $13 and the food was both delicious, flavorful and filling. However, the injera bread, which is between the thickness of a regular American pancake and a crepe, does taste slightly tangy. The slight tangyness does not really register among the other strong flavors of the curries, but I think some people might be put off by the taste.
Not pictured here is my coffee. I ordered a black coffee, thinking I would just get a regular cup of Joe. I was so wrong. The coffee was like an 8 ounce double espresso. One sip, and I was already feeling all bright eyed and bushy tailed. Seriously.
I will go back for the Eritrean breakfast and the coffee. Definitely the coffee.