A special toast to my new friend, Yamrot, who along with her husband, Bona and his brother Dula, own the totally 100% authentic Ethiopian Restaurant named LETENA in Washington D.C.'s cool Colombia Heights neighborhood. Yamrot is pictured in the black turtled-neck sweater on the right hand side of the picture. "I am a person who is totally immersed in my culture of the Ethiopian Spices and authentic recipes, yet with my own modern experimental touch," she says honestly. Honesty, is the number one ingredient with Yamrot whether it is personal or professional. " I love to say that my food is HONEST FOOD. And that is to say that I am so obsessed with what we claim our food to be that it is."
"Let's take my Steak Tar-Tar on the menu. It is a meat named Kitfo, which is found in Ethiopia and is a traditional steak dish and it is a very lean meat that we do seared. People are used to tar-tar as raw and I do it both ways, yet recommend that they try it my way. Each authentic dish can be tried and if it is something that you are not used to, you can try another. I want the experience of my cooking to be remembered with pleasure," says Yamrot.
"Here at Letena, I tell my servers to not suggest something to the guests that the servers love, yet to ask the guests what they love. If a guest insists on something that is traditional Ethiopian, perhaps it is a little too spicy or ethnic for them. They can always try something else. I want the restaurant to be known as a place where people from everywhere around the world can come to try authentic Ethiopian cuisine made always with Ethiopian native spices, yet in my modern way. In traditional Ethiopian culture the food is cooked in two ways. Slow stew and stir fry. We prepare the stew, whether it is vegan or vegetarian or meat stew about 1 to 3 hours. The stir fry is always made to order. Each is unique and flavored and you can tell when you eat my food that a lot of effort went into making the food taste special."
"I love the process of cooking and I used to cook a lot when I had young children at home. We decided to open the restaurant here in D.C. and we bought the place in the summer of 2014. About 1 and 1/2 years after we opened the doors and it has been such an experience for me to see the evolvement of the guests and the menu along with the guests. I have tried new recipes with the Ethiopian ways of cooking, yet since we don't cook with fish in Ethiopia, I add tuna and scallops, let's say, and the stew is authentic, with my modern touch."
The ingredients are always fresh and healthy and always cooked in the traditional Ethiopian style with Ethiopian spices. A must in D.C.
"As a Ethiopian Orthodox, we fast 200 days of the year. We do not eat meat 200 days of the year. That translates to the fact we REALLY know how to cook Vegan!" laughs Yamrot. "Most of our food is hundreds of years old of Vegetarian recipes and Vegan recipes and whenever a person says to me that they love Ethiopian food, yet they don't like Vegan, I tell them that they probably don't even know that they are eating Vegan!"
"I am a very discerning person when it comes to food. When my husband and I dine out, I try to enjoy the ambience and the service as my expectations for food is usually too high!" says Yamrot!
LETENA ETHIOPIAN RESTAURANT
"It is up here where we have the events such as the book reading and of course cigars come with these events.," laughs David, the 80 year old owner of his 57 year business as The top Cigar place in Washington DC, Georgetown that is. "Here" is on the 3rd floor of the historic building in the middle of M street in Georgetown. Downstairs is gorgeous and cozy and full of cigars to buy and upstairs is his private 3rd floor asian carpet parlor and study. A huge antique wooden table and antique chairs surround the table and today it is loaded with nicnacs from his study. http://www.gttobacco.com/
Georgetown Tobacco is located at 31 44 M. Street In Georgetown
"My daughter has decided my place needs cleaning and she is about 1/2 way done. I am happy she is straightening up for me, and although sometimes I can't find something, it is okay. She can get rid of most of this anyway!" he says. I tell him I love the posters on the walls and the gorgeous antiques. "Yes, they're okay. But I have too much stuff up here. She's good at clearing it away. Since I have my events up here, it's important to have it looking good!"
Upstairs in the Gorgeous 3rd level office, parlor where the events are held in David's Georgetown Cigar Store, where, "We have tickets from $30 to $50 depending on the event. They usually have new cigars every year and people love to come and try these. We give a little bourbon during the cigar tastings or a little wine, they enjoy these events. I do too. My favorite Cigars are the Davidoff Cigars, yet even at cost, I have to pay from $30 dollars per cigar. And since I smoke 3 a day, maybe that is why I don't make a profit!" We start laughing. Well, what is the use of owning a great cigar store, if you can't enjoy it!
The coolest item about the Georgetown store is visiting it and learning about the cigars, yet if you are anywhere in the nation or international, you can order from his online store and he ships all around the world. So enjoy.
"I started the Georgetown Tobacco in 1965, around that year and my father mortgaged his home, giving me $5,000. Which isn't much, so I had a little store down the street. Later, about 5 to 6 years, a friend and business partner asked if I wanted to share the space here. I said yes. Now, 50 years since, I am still here!" he says laughing.
He asked if my publication EmmeAnesBook makes profit and I start laughing, and say, "um not really!" David replies, "Mine either, but I do love my cigars!"
"Cigar smoking is a social event, in and of itself," says David. "Most of my Washington DC guests have known me years and now the second generation and maybe 3rd come in. I always enjoy the tourists, too. They love to ask questions about cigars!"
"It is of interest to the tourists, too, when I tell them of how the process from planting the seed of the tobacco leaf to the final rollling and packaging of the cigar takes about 2,000 little details. It is a long evolved process and perhaps that is why cigars cost a little bit more these days. It is a personal habit, though. Some people smoke one cigar a day and some 7. It depends on the person."
Visiting Zino Davidoff legacy
I ask David if women come in a smoke cigars, is that the trend? "I see a lot of women these days coming into the store. They enjoy a good cigar and they come to the events, too. The events aren't always about the cigars, since I do have book readings upstairs where recently a author had written a book about Washington DC and we had a event with the author and of course we had cigars for purchase and smoking. The Havana Cuban cigars were right before my time and to tell the truth, nowadays, Dominican Republic makes the best cigars in the world, not Cuba. If somebody gives me a cuban cigar I give the cigar away!" Says David.
Says Jamal, the boss of Angolo Italian restaurant in Georgetown, "Spaghetti Bolognese! Do I have Spaghetti Bolognese! I happen to make the best Spaghetti Bolognese on the planet! As a matter of fact, a visitor staying at the hotel near us in Georgetown came in here the other day asking if I could make that. I said of course, I am the Chef-I know how to do Italian! And I made it for him and he couldn't stop talking about my Spaghetti Bolognese!" he says as we laugh outside enjoying the beautiful DC weather. http://angolodc.com/contact/
You want to try it? Located at: 2934 M st NW in Georgetown
"I love Italian food and I know how to cook it from many years of experience. Yes, I am Moroccan, yet I only cook what I love and honestly I could eat Italian everyday, yet you couldn't eat Moroccan everyday. How much rice can you eat!" jokes Jamal who shows me the gorgeous outdoor patio where they were designing a outdoor aperitivo bar for his guests last night.
"I have many specialities on my menu such as Beef Short Ribs, or Stufed burrata ravili with fresh basil and marinara sauce or Angel-hair pasta, garlic, fresh basil, capers, jumbo shrimp and a touch of marinara sauce which is Cappellini Scampi, and yet honestly, if you ask me for it, I can cook it. Made to order. We only have fresh here."
PS they have great brunch and Mimosas...Yum! Omelettes, Steak and Eggs, Savory and Sweet Crepes, Waffles and French Toast and Pancakes! Now for the surprise brunch, the great sandwiches of Meatball Parmesan, Angolo Burger which is seasoned angus beef, or maybe a Castellano with Roasted turkey breast? Come try the variety at the lovely Italian bistro.
"We've only been in the location here about 3 years and I absolutely love Georgetown. I love the location, the people, the atmosphere. The outside patio I made myself, choosing the blue tiles, and the granite top bar we're just waiting for the top to come to finish it. I believe that the weather is warm now and that the people love to eat outside. Maybe a aperitivo before dinner. It is a social place."
I love the outdoor patio behind the Angolo's Restaurant, with its charming light blue tiles and beautiful wooden floors. It is here that I am introduced to Jamal, who is leaning on his bar joking constantly about his food. Which, is very good, by the way, yet Jamal says, "O I know how to cook Italian food. Of course I am a Italian restaurant. I don't know how to cook Mexican and so I don't!" Okay, fair enough! "I am the best cook of Italian food," says the fun Moroccan owner chef of Angolo in Georgetown, mimicking the gestures of a Italian chef. "I can cook anything that you ask for. Made to order. Gnocchis, Tortellinis, and you can't eat pasta everyday so you can come back and eat my pizza. I have the best pizza too!"
The Angolo Italian Restaurant in Georgetown
Located at: 2934 M st NW in Georgetown
Blaguard2003 18TH STREET NW, WASHINGtON DC (202) 232-9005
"It's nice outside finally today," says the Super real and super nice boss of BLAGUARD IRISH PUB in Adams Morgan today. It's a cool bar with outside open windows and great selections of bourbon, scotch and whiskies and of course craft beers! "Ya it has much more in the way of bourbons and scotch than it used to. That is due to JACK ROSE next door. They have so many rare ones that I got intrigued and started carrying some of the better ones here. Me and my partner want the bar to be a local neighborhood place where everybody knows each other and you can just hangout with each other. The fact that it has great food, real gourmet burgers and a head chef is a added plus yet I promote the Drinking aspect of it, not the gastronomy. It isn't a gastronomy pub," Says BO,"It's a Irish sports pub and the only thing we changed is the fact it used to be a Steeler's pub but we've made it back to a hometown Redskin's pub."
the blaguard And the homestead
"The blaguard is a neighborhood irish pub, that happens to have very pub food, better than usual,"says bo, the very happy and affable owner of both the
BLAGUARD AND THE HOMESTEAD
"The Homestead is a very high quality Modern American restaurant that me and my partner started about 3 years now. We wanted a very upscale restaurant where you can have events and weddings and a beautiful dinner. We loved JACK ROSE specialty whiskey bar next door and wanted something similar to it. They all come here after they get off work anyway and we loved that kind of atmosphere and so we made our own!" he says laughing. "Here is a Irish bar that we bought from the original owner and the Homestead is the one where we built it from scratch."
"Me and my partner used to both bartend at the famous Washington DC nightclub in Adam's Morgan named the TOM TOM. His father-in-law owned it and we had many late nights. We always said that we would love a neighborhood friendly bar and we finally opened The Blaguard, which is just that. After 10 years, since he is 1/2 Irish and 1/2 Greek, we have a American greek themed restaurant, The Homestead, and since I am 1/2 Scottish and 1/2 Irish, we have a Irish Scottish Drinking bar!" says Bo.
"The Homestead's decor is all of my partner and my idea. We built it from the ground up and it is gorgeous. We love weddings and events and we hope to have many here.
Okay, having said that they are a drinking pub, Bo does admit, "It is pretty funny since people order food and when the food comes the rest of the people in the PUB say, O that is what I want and they order food immediately! I guess it is because the meat is real beef from a farm and every item is made from hand including the chips!"
"The Blaguard is actually a combination name which we learned means the Black Guard, a Irish expression, and since we're Irish...Sometimes you hear people calling for a cab at night and they say, "um at the Bluegard, the blablaguard, etc. Nobody can pronouce it, yet the cab drivers know where it is!" Just how friendly and neighborhoody is it? "Every year a couple times a year, I take my team and a couple of regulars on vacation with me. We went to Puerto Rico twice and to the hills of North Carolina recently. I love that I can know and talk to my guests, not like nightclubs."
"The Homestead is located in the heart of Washington DC in Petworth, and it is located in a 1922 townhouse, which we rebuilt with architectural details ourselves. People always say how beautiful it is and that makes us happy, of course. The fact that they love our food and cocktails makes us even more happy!" Says the very friendly Bo. AND it has a rooftop bar! Cool.
Say Hi to Piko, the chef-owner, at CASA PIKO in Georgetown.
1303 WISCONSIN AVE NW, WASHINGTON, DC 20007 202-303-0256
Although the restaurant is very beautiful and looks very expensive, it is as the boss says, "a fun family place. I started with one colorful painting and soon couldn't stop adding pictures. I love the pictures of the authors: such as, Hemingway and Hunter Thomas and Salvador Dali and on the side of the wall near the kitchen is all of these pictures representing Puerto Rico including one of me as a young man. It gives the restaurant a playfulness and we keep adding. My artist friend painted the cobblestones in the front patio last night. We do it all ourselves. We are very into the Latin American culture and community, too, and last week had a fundraiser for the people of Puerto Rico."
While Piko showed me his beautiful funky restaurant, I thought I should include the fact that it has kick rocking Latin American food with modern presentations.
I want to eat the Goat stew! or as the Puerto Ricans say:
Cabrito Fricassee braised goat / petit pois / celeriac / carrots / fingerlings
PIKO is all about having fun and here he is with guests and family enjoying his restaurant. "Life is about fun," he says.
Peek-a-Boo found a gem in Georgetown named CASA PIKO, a Puerto Rican owner who says that his casual let's have fun restaurant in addition to having traditional Puerto Rican dishes, specializes in Latin American cuisine including Peru and Cuba.
Alright, let's talk about the great food. From Latin America of such mouth-watering tastiness that you shall come back again and again. The food is so great I am thinking about moving to Latin America!
To check out the tasty menu click on the link https://www.highstreetdc.com/
On Tuesdays they have a whole roasted pig, or how about plantains which I personally love, or shrimp corn cakes, or you could try the Seafood Stew (Asopao) squid / local fish / clams / shrimp / arborio rice / avocado/ and Kan-Kan Porkchop, all served Latin style!
O, I love George! I say to Piko who says, "Yes that is George Washington!" I say that I'm talking about George Bush and Piko starts laughing, "Yes me too. I loved Reagan, too and he is the first President I voted for. He did amazing changes when he was President, yet people only think of him as a actor!" Which is true such as taking down the Berlin Wall! Which could be the reason that Germans love Ronald Reagan and Westerns! Anyway, on a lovely sunny day you can sit here in the front patio of the very fun and funky portrait of Puerto Rico also known as CASA PIKO, WHERE PIKO opens the windows and lets the fresh air surround you as you eat lunch.
...along came a spyder and sat down beside her... The International Spy Museum in DC at 800 F Street 202.393.7798https://www.spymuseum.org/
I walked into EXILES and was pleasantly surprised at the friendly atmosphere of the bar. Three young guys, Danny and Donagh from Ireland and Brian from Buffalo opened their first bar as of June 6. "When we were looking for a place for our bar the biggest thing that we needed to find is a bar of character. We finally found it in Stetson's. It has that old charm feeling that you just can't find in a modern bar no matter how hard you try. The upstairs is used for parties and is open on Friday and Saturdays for the public in addition the backyard patio is open. We added heat lamps since it is our first winter we keep adding things as we learn. We thought that EXILES is a fitting name for Washington DC since everybody here is an EXILE of some sort from all around the world. Including me from Ireland and Donagh and even Brian is from Buffalo. It has the same meaning as EXPATS out of the country. I'm happy yes. And I wouldn't go back to working for somebody else but of course although it is fun and exciting it is a little scary since we're the bosses now and responsible for everything you know?" O yes I say I know. Come eat the great American Smoking Meat, drink the craft beers and meet local people from around the world. Right here on Ustreet.
The Baby Panda at the Smithsonian Zoo Washington DC.
All the Smithsonian Museums are totally free everyday!
Here is the lovely chef who, along with Jamie, started a first Monday of FRESHFARM Markets that completely sold out,good for Mr. Matthew! "Me and Matthew go to the Local Fresh Farmer's Markets near here every Saturday and Sunday and wanted to try out the concept of a total and complete home-cooked meal all from these fresh ingredients for Matthew to first cook and serve to the guests. We tried it out on a Monday and sold out. It was incredible. Now it is in the experimental phase of lets see which day we can delegate to FreshFarm." says Jamie.
202 633 4888 _3001 connecticut ave