Thank you all again for your input.
As planned, I left the airport and headed straight for U St. Based on the information that Queen Makeda isn't an option, I decided on Dukem (no particular reason). I've had about 10 Ethiopian meals over a few years, so I'm no expert, but Dukem clearly puts effort in to the food (on top of flavor). I'm a sampler so I went with the #24. Minchet Abesh (finely ground beef in a buttery ginger and garlic slick). My other two dishes were a little more in-your-face, so I may have lost both the ginger and the garlic after bites of the others. Still, a good item.
Lamb Wot was in the bullseye of the platter which is a propos as it was a hit. Really nice, powerful flavors with a pleasant bite. Regular Kifto (ordered the raw) was at 7 o'clock. Just a smooth, mild-mannered tartare. Interestingly, it wasn't obliterated by the deep, spicy Wot. It was actually a nice complement to the Dukem Salad (tomatoes, onion, jalapenos, and "special Dukem style dressing" which is essentially garlicy Italian I would guess.
Mid-winter Wednesday nights aren't exactly party time in Minnesota so I really appreciated the music and festivity (although it drove the price of a Diet Coke up to $6).
All in all, a great meal. Etete, Ethiopic, and the other DC-area Ethiopian restaurants have a high bar to cross with me now, but based on this meal, and the other recent thread, I really look forward to trying one or both on my next trip out. I hope to return to Dukem too and I won't hesitate to recommend it.
Next up was the Arlington meal. The boss invited us so, as I feared, we got the "let's just head downstairs to that Chinese place". Cafe Asia is more pan-Asian, so I didn't feign the norovirus to escape despite its mediocre reviews on here.
It wasn't terrible, but I'm only less than two weeks removed from Makoto. Spicy tobiko and "cajun roll" (not really a "roll" fan, but needed to be sated without stepping on the new boss' budgetary toes), and threw in some Spanish mackerel sashimi for good measure. Up in the hinterlands, there are a couple good sushi places, and then there are upscale-ish grocery stores with sushi. This was closer to the latter. More pedestrian than special occasion. (p.s. the coworker's thai-style flat noodle dish was good...forgetting the name though).
Pupatella. I have to admit, I'm normally a Neapolitan pizza fan but something just didn't wow me. Nothing wrong -- in fact, the sausage on their standard sausage pizza was excellent. It could very well have been me, not the pizza, but I don't see myself rushing back there or dispatching my DC-area friends to get it. Neapolitan pizza is one of the "big things" in mid-size cities across the US it seems so maybe it's just getting to the saturation point for me. One big plus, $10 is a good value. Throw in a salad (saw one...looked nice) and it's a steal.
The Lebanese place next to Pupatella -- just popped in for some falafel while I was waiting for pizza. Nice guys, OK falafel. Bakalava was much better looking than tasting.
Rest assured, I keep recommendations in my back pocket so if I didn't hit up the place you recommended, don't feel bad. I'll probaby be back in the not-to-distant future.
Thanks again and happy Chowing DC.
1550 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22209
5104 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22203