Not only does Baltimore have a new Ethiopian joint, it’s an Ethiopian joint with a reputation: The owners of Dukem in Mount Vernon are the same folks who own the well-loved Dukem on U Street in Washington. Baltimore’s version is where the now-defunct Ghion Café operated in all its, to put it gently, barroom-shabby chic. We were pleasantly surprised to see that the place has gotten a tasteful makeover that gives the space a warm and comfortable ambiance.
The meal began with a light tomato salad ($4.99)—hunks of tomato, raw onion, and jalapeńo peppers dressed in a garlicky vinegar dressing—that was simple but refreshing. Since the menu is full of mouth-watering items, it was tough to choose just one dish, so we selected a combination platter ($9.95) of minchet abesh, ground beef cooked in spices and a mild green pepper sauce, and lamb wot, a spicy lamb stew that’d be a perfect warm dish for a slushy winter day. All meals are served with traditional Ethiopian injera bread, that spongy dense stuff that you use as a utensil. The food was reliably good, just as we expected it would be, and for now, we have but one regret—that Baltimore’s Dukem does not have sambusas, those little meat- or lentil-filled pies that we love so much, on its menu.