local ethnic restaurants: a family food adventure

Before kids, my husband and I talked a good game. We had big plans. ethnic restaurant family food adventure

We’ll pack up everything!

We’ll move across the world!

We’ll teach at an Amerian school abroad!

Yeah! Life is too short!

Let’s live this adventure!

But then came coaching jobs, teaching jobs, activities, all of those years of friends’ weddings, and then. . .  babies.

And we were stuck here. Not stuck, but stuck.

So we stayed—and it looks like we’ll stay for a while. But that doesn’t erase our love of food and love of adventure—we just have to find more creative and at-home ways of filling those holes.

And we’ll teach the kids a little something along the way.

We do a lot of new-restaurant and new-food trying over here, and we believe that local ethnic restaurants are a hidden gem–a trip away from home but at home.

A few days ago, while my husband was on his yearly man-adventure—his golf trip—I grabbed my fearless, 8-and-a half-month-pregnant sister and dragged her on the kids’ and my latest food adventure: a local ethnic restaurant.  An Ethiopian restaurant.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Local Ethnic Restaurants– A Family Food Adventure:  This I love Ethiopian food, but more than the food, I love the experience of eating at an Ethiopian restaurant.

Lucky for us, here in the DC Metro area, there are tons of really amazing ethnic restaurants, and Ethiopian restaurants here are some of the best.

ethiopian with kids bread


I scored a coupon for our restaurant and was sure to take it along—you never know how these food adventures will go, so you might as well make sure to keep it as cost-effective as possible.   I know my kids are pretty food-brave, but again, you never really know until you get there.

I had prepped Maddy, Owen, and Cora for this adventure just in conversation:

You, Aunt Katie, and I are going on a food adventure while Daddy’s away. We’re trying a new restaurant–with totally new-for-us-food, and I think you’ll love it. Oh, but you can’t use utensils.

ethiopian with kids juice


ethiopian with kids apps


Huh? Whaaaa? was about all I got.

You heard me–food adventure. Can’t wait!! It’s Ethiopian food–one of Daddy and my favorites. You’ll love it–chicken, lamb, veggies. . .

But what did you say about the utensil thing? Can you repeat that? The ‘no utensils’–

Oh yeah, you eat everything by scooping it up with bread–it’s a flat bread, and oh man you’ll love it.

From that point on, the kids were hooked. Hooked.


ethiopian with kids main course


ethiopian with kids maddy


I told them about the food adventure on Wednesday when my husband left town, and they talked about it until Friday.  I didn’t want to show them pictures–though I know I could have found them with a quick click of the mouse–because I wanted to leave a lot up to their imaginations. I wanted to prep them in a fun and cool way.

Because I really wasn’t sure how the no utensil thing would go.

By the time 5pm on Friday rolled around, they were getting anxious. And they were tired from a 5 full-day week. Note to self: new restaurants, 30 minutes away should be reserved for a weekend or early, early dinner, especially when there’s a tired 5 year old involved.

It was an adventure.

We all searched for the proper address, found the restaurant and popped in–and immediately felt like we had stepped into a new city, somewhere totally different from what we were used to.  Everything was a learning experience, from the seating options to the menus, to the decor.


ethiopian with kids decor


We relied heavily on our waitress’s recommendations, and they were right on spot. We tried:

  • guava juice & mango juice
  • sambusas: triangular shaped pasteries filled with beef, green peppers, onions, and peppers and lentil-filled
  • doro alitcha, key fitfit, fasolia bekarot, cabbage for four: a mix separate dishes consisting of chicken, eggs, lamb, potatoes, greens, and cabbage, served on top of injera, the Ethiopian flat, spongy bread
  • popcorn: free and Owen totally took advantage of it

The food. Was. Amazing.  And the only rule was that you had to try the food twice before you wrote it off.

Maddy ate her little face off. Owen tried everything, tried it a second time, but didn’t love it. And though Cora was pretty tired and rather cranky, she toughed it out.  For the most part.

ethiopian with kids decor 2


And though I wish everyone loved it as much as Katie, Maddy, and me, Owen scarfed the popcorn and Cora ate enough of everything though she wasn’t the most pleasant dinner company.  In fact, our littlest one walked herself up to bed the minute we got into the door but woke up the next day asking to go back. Maybe it wasn’t in the cards for her that night.

But to know that the kids were able to step out of their comfort zones for a night, give it a good, ole try, and live to tell about it ranks it as a win in my book.

It’s cool when you can pick from a wide range of ethnic restaurants in a close proximity from your house on any given night. We’re lucky to have that option, and I know we don’t take advantage of it as often as we should.  

I know this kind of local ethnic family food adventure can’t be an every month thing–it’s too expensive, and we’re too busy. But it made me more excited to keep an eye out for new ethnic restaurants, and I am going to make it a goal to try at least one restaurant–or one ethnic dish we can cook at home–each season. Now on our list? Jamaican, Thai, Vietnamese, Salvadorian, French. We’re on a mission.

That’s do-able, right?

What do you think? What ethnic restaurants have been big scores for your family, and what have been your flops? Do tell! I’d love to hear!




  1. says

    That is also what I do when I stay in one place for too long – at least I have to have different cuisine from time to time, if I can’t travel much (and that also does not happen a lot as I travel between UK and Poland at least 2 times a month). The little ones are used to going to different sorts of restaurants (in different countries ;)) just because our lifestyle is what it is. I love how it affects them – they are more tolerant, do not take everything for granted and are so much wiser!

    • says

      Your life sounds so fun and exciting–your travel between UK and Poland sure trumps my travel here in the DC area, my friend! I think we need to organize a ‘house swap’–yours for mine!

      • says

        Oh I would love to visit US! Which house do you prefer; polish countryside (forests, fields and peace) or full of life, small but comfortable apartment in London? 😀

        • says

          OOoooooh, honestly, ask me today and I’ll say Polish countryside; ask me tomorrow and I may say apartment in London. I’ll take either! I feel an idea brewing . . . . let’s start saving!

  2. says

    what fun! and such a great idea. i’m not sure if I’d be brave enough to take my kids to eat Ethiopian — I tried to secretly mix in bananas into the pancake batter this morning and there was a revolt!!

  3. says

    So funny … I have a similar post written in my head but haven’t gotten to it. Love your ideas. Now that our girls are older this seems to be more possible. For the longest time, it just wasn’t. One of my girls is way more adventurous than the other. Thanks for the inspiration. This is good for us, the parents, as much as them.

    • says

      Shawn, that IS funny! And it doesn’t matter if we write about the same thing–we’ll both have a slightly different take. Looking forward to hearing about your food adventures!

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