The Wash

Immigrant-owned restaurants give D.C. global flavor

We sent our reporters to Columbia Heights and U Street this week, to learn how immigrant-owned restaurants are making their mark in the District’s renowned food scene.

Los Hermanos

Dominican

(Kip Dooley / The Wash)

Los Hermanos Dominican restaurant in Columbia Heights has quickly risen to local and national prominence.

 

(Kip Dooley / The Wash)

Raymond Compres owns and operates Los Hermanos with his brother, Aris.

(Kip Dooley / The Wash)

The restaurant started as a bodega grocery store in 1995, and transitioned to a restaurant when Columbia Heights underwent redevelopment and a population boom in the early 2000s.

(Kip Dooley / The Wash)

The Compres brothers say they hope to one day turn Los Hermanos into a national chain.

 

(Kip Dooley /  The Wash)

The Dominican cooks at Los Hermanos don’t use recipes. Instead, they cook from memory and by taste.

(Kip Dooley / The Wash)

The Compres brothers say that customers come from as far as California for their authentic Dominican food.

(Kip Dooley /  The Wash)

Meat, rice, beans and plantains are the staples of most Dominican dishes.

 

(Kip Dooley / The Wash)

Aris Compres (left) discusses the restaurant’s highest-profile clients: The Washington Nationals and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

(Kip Dooley / The Wash)

Dominican players on the Nationals popularized Los Hermanos with their teammates.

(Kip Dooley / The Wash)

Los Hermanos caters nearly every Washington Nationals home game.

El Tamarindo

Salvadoran

(Kip Dooley / The Wash)

Jose Flores, owner of El Tamarindo on U Street.

 

(Kip Dooley / AU The Wash)

Flores opened El Tamarindo in 1982, only a few years after immigrating from El Salvador.

(Kip Dooley / AU The Wash)

The restaurant serves Elotes Locos, or grilled corn on the cob.

 

(Kip Dooley / AU The Wash)

Famous Salvadoran and Mexican figures line the walls at El Tamarindo.

(Kip Dooley / AU The Wash)

El Tamarindo’s enchiladas, pictured, are also popular.

(Kip Dooley / The Wash)

Customers dig into fish tacos and yucca fries.

(Kip Dooley / The Wash)

Keren

Eritrean / East African

(Kip Dooley / AU The Wash)

Keren Restaurant, on U Street, began business in 1979.

(Kip Dooley / AU The Wash)

Keren serves as a meeting place for district residents from Eritrea, Somalia, and Ethiopia.

(Kip Dooley / AU The Wash)

 

(Kip Dooley / AU The Wash)

 

(Kip Dooley / AU The Wash)

Co-owner Tekie Ghrebrekrstos says their says days at the restaurant are, “really busy. We don’t have much break. We don’t have a day off. Everyday we make sure everything’s perfected.”

(Kip Dooley / AU The Wash)

Keren takes its name after a famous city in Eritrea. The restaurant’s decor features the city’s lush hillsides and stunning mountain views.

(Kip Dooley / AU The Wash)
(Kip Dooley / The Wash)

Keren’s most popular dishes feature tal, a bean dip, and injera, a spongy bread used to soak up flavorful sauces.

Kip Dooley

Kip Dooley

I'm a former high school teacher studying investigative and multimedia journalism in Washington, D.C.

Ethan Smith

Ethan Smith

Ethan Smith is a broadcast journalism graduate student at American University.

1 comment

  • Nice article. You really captured the “flavor,” so to speak, of each restaurant: the people, the visual setting, and the food. I’d like to try all of them.

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