I don’t remember exactly when I first tried a kitfo sandwich — I think it was six years ago at Dukem on U Street NW — but the combination of raw spiced beef pressed between slices of yeast bread has become a staple of Ethiopian restaurants. No one does it better than Debab in Silver Spring. Chef and co-owner Emuti Taddese isn’t afraid to serve her minced beef raw, even in this handheld form, which I’ve always assumed is a way to introduce kitfo to those wary of uncooked meat. I’ve ordered this sandwich three times now, and each time, the beef has sported a different shade of red, from mahogany to crimson. The beef is ground in-house and bathed in Taddese’s own niter kibbeh, a spiced and clarified butter that is at once hot and fragrant. You’ll be grateful for the accompanying salad to help douse the fire in your mouth.
Kitfo sandwiches have had a recent spike in popularity; Washington City Paper’s Laura Hayes listed Langano Restaurant’s version as one of her favorite sandwiches last fall.
Debab Restaurant opened under new ownership in February of last year, in the former home of Ethio Express Grill at 952 Sligo Ave. Ash Edossa and his wife Abebech “Emu” Taddese took over the business that January.
With the name change, “we just want to give a sense of what kind of service we provide,” Edossa said to the Source last year. “We want to provide the real Ethiopian atmosphere in terms of the way we provide the food and the contents and the taste of the food.”
Source file photo