The $20 Diner’s 10 favorite cheap eats of 2015

Dining in Ethiopian Restaurant is characterized by the ritual breaking of injera and eating from the same plate, signifying the bonds of loyalty and friendship.

Injera, the traditional Ethiopian bread, is part of every entree. It is pancake-like bread on which the various stew dishes are served. The traditional way of eating it is with your fingers, which in itself is a delicate art. A bite sized piece of the injera is broken off to pick up a mouth full of the chosen dish.

Ethiopian dishes are characterized by the variety of spices from which they get their exotic taste. Watt is a stew that comes in the form of beef, lamb, chicken, fish and vegetables. These range from spicy watt to very mild. The mildly seasoned watt is called Alicha.

Ethiopian Chercher Restaurant all dishes are free from artificial coloring, artificial flavoring and artificial preservatives. We use vegetable oil in all vegetarian dishes, No butter, no eggs, no milk, no honey.

December 16

I began the year by writing about a semi-covert concept called Baan Thai, an intoxicating place forced to share tables with an Americanized sushi house on 14th Street. I closed the year with a fruitless search for another Thai joint, this one purportedly buried in the crusty corridors of Eden Center, the Falls Church mall better known for its Vietnamese cooking.

One restaurant secured a spot on my year-end list. The other made a different list, the one that begins with an “s” and an “h.”

Before I serve up my favorites for 2015, however, a confession: I have loved lists since I was a boy and obsessively thumbed through “The People’s Almanac Presents the Book of Lists.” I loved the almanac’s mix of seemingly useful information (“13 Presidents Who Won With Less Than 50% of the Vote”) and sheer trivia (“Stephen King’s 6 Scariest Scenes Ever Captured on Film”). It was clickbait in a book.

Who would have guessed that the Internet, the medium without a word limit, would become the home of listicles, these hardened checklists that purport to offer the “best of” this or the “hottest of” that, all without the hassle of discernible criteria or sometimes even ethics. Still, the implied totalitarianism of these online lists, at the very least, generates arguments, which can be played out in real time at your computer or phone, as you ignore all other earthly concerns.

Perhaps you’ll want to mix it up after reading the $20 Diner’s list of favorite restaurants for the year. I hope so. The eateries are presented in reverse order, from my 10th favorite to the place I loved the most.

6. CherCher Ethio­pian Restaurant

As the U Street corridor becomes more of a nightlife destination, Ethiopians who once dominated the area have migrated elsewhere. You’ll find plenty of Ethio­pian and Eritrean natives parked at CherCher, where they enjoy the pleasures of the flesh: animal flesh, often raw, heated with only a combustible awaze sauce or berbere spice blend. Follow their lead, and you’ll understand the primal attraction of Cher­Cher. CherCher Ethio­pian Restaurant, 1334 Ninth St. NW. 202-299-9703.

[On a quest for doro wat, but the natives know best]

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