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Dama Pastry and Restaurant

  • Veg-friendly Veg-friendly
    ( 9 reviews )
Contact 703-920-3559
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1503 Columbia Pike, Arlington, Virginia, USA, 22201

Serves meat, vegan options available. Ethiopian restaurant in the DC area. Offers vegan versions of some traditional meat dishes. You can get a veggie steak sandwich, kitfo (chopped seitan with greens and tofu soft "cheese"), dulet (chopped seitan, with peppers, onions, and spices from the kitfo), tibs (larger pieces of seitan sauteed in either mild spices or berbere sauce), doro wat (seitan on a chopstick "bone" with a tofu-based "hard boiled egg" in berbere sauce). The veggie combo varies day to day and is enough food for 2 or 3 people. Casual place, more about the food than the ambiance. Service sometimes be slow, but the food usually comes quickly. Note: The bakery next door usually has 1-3 kinds of vegan cake, and always has vegan cookies plus baklava (made with honey). Soy milk is available to make vegan cappuccino and other coffee drinks. Mon-Sun 11:00am-10:00pm

Category: Vegan-friendly, Take-out, Ethiopian, Non-veg

Reviews (9)

First Review by jrfishe1

New Experience - Edit

When we went to visit Washington, we stayed in Arlington and had no idea where to go for lunch, so we had a look at Happy Cow and found this interesting place!

My fiancé and I had never been to an Ethiopian restaurant, so we were very excited to try something totally new!

While waiting for our food I got more and more excited as I saw that people were eating with their hands! I'd never been to a restaurant like this before and I'd always wanted, so this was a dream come true!

The "bread" they served (Injera?) was a bid odd for my tastes, but the lentil "dips" were amazing, I loved it so much!

I can only recommend this place! If you go to Washington, stop in Arlington and go to this restaurant! It's so amazing! Love it!


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Best Ethiopian in the DC area - Edit

Dama is my favorite restaurant in town. They have a standard veggie platter similar to what you can get at any other Ethiopian place, except at Dama everything tastes twice as good. As if that's not enough, they also have fantastic mock meats. The veggie tibs are my favorite - so succulent! - but the veggie kitfo is great as well. But wait, it gets better. After feasting on a ridiculously delicious, huge, and inexpensive meal, you can get vegan dessert. I think you can order it from your table in the restaurant, but it's better to walk through the store to the cafe next door where you can scope out the desserts in person. All of their cookies (8 or 10 varieties of shortbread-type cookies) are vegan, and 95% of the time they have at least one vegan cake. Sometimes they'll have up to six vegan cakes. Chocolate raspberry, Italian rum, velvet, mocha... oh it is heavenly. Also, the staff are super nice. I go there enough that they almost seem like family now.

Pros: best ethiopian food in the area, outstanding vegan baked goods, nice, welcoming staff

Cons: service can be a bit slow, they serve meat


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Vegan Ethiopian food heaven - Edit

This is my go-to-place for vegan Ethiopian food. The food is amazing with its flavor, and they have vegan "meat" options like "tibs" or "kitfo." On top of that, their desserts have vegan options in a classic European pastry style that is better than any other vegan desserts of that style anywhere, period.

So why not go? Well, the route to getting out of the District might be challenging. It's not in the most walker-friendly location, but, trust me, it's worth it. This is bar none my favorite Ethio joint in all of the DC metropolitan area because of the vegan desserts and attention to vegan food choices on the menu. They use fake meats and tofu for those who don't want just a "regular" veg sampler of gomen war, atalkilt wot, shiro wat, kik alicha or mesir wot.

They don't have many appetizer choices for any diners, but be patient and maybe order more main course dishes! It's worth the wait! Plenty of tasty injera to sop up the sauces and food - they will bring more as you need it, but I appreciate they don't dump it all on top of you because some may waste it.

As you are dining, there are TV's for entertainment… but not really a reason to go.

You will also see many expats, taxi drivers and locals coming in and out of the restaurant and cafe/ bakery portion, as well as the takeout in the middle for injera or food pantry basics.

Cakes are usually 1 of the following: mocha (chocolate and vanilla layers with cream plus coffee infusion), fruit cake (yellow cake with cream and fresh fruit on top), or rum cake (yellow cake with rum frosting and phyllo on top). There are a few other rotating choices. They are small slices, as cakes should be, and very reasonably priced - very!! The cookies are also super reasonably priced in the classic piped pastry style of jam filled sandwich cookies (apricot or raspberry), along with sables (think "butter" cookies) that are plain, sugared or blended with chocolate and even palmiers/ angel wings. YUM.

This place is the best vegan choice for Ethiopian in the District's metropolitan area. Go there for the savory traditional Ethiopian fare and DEFINITELY don't forget dessert - in fact, I always get some to go….

Pros: Vegan cake, Vegan cookies, Vegan food

Cons: Out of the way, Parking lot is oddly shaped


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Yummy! - Edit

Although I was introduced to Ethiopian before I went veg, it's only after I went vegan that I really appreciated it. I'm a bit of a wimp when it comes to spicy food, but I love, love, love shuro watt. Dama, which is near the Air Force Memorial and what once was the Navy Annex, is a casual restaurant with excellent vegan options. They serve vegan tibs! Yay! They're little cubes of seitan, well seasoned, and delicious. The last time I went, with friends, we tore through our vegetarian platter--and still had room for dessert in the attached bakery (just ask which options are vegan).

There's not a lot of parking, and it can be tricky getting into the lot. It's also not near a Metro station, but there is a bus that goes nearby.

Still, Dama is one of my favorite places in the area to go.

Pros: Delicious food, good prices, friendly service

Cons: Limited parking, not near Metro station


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Excellent food - Edit

Among the best Ethiopian places I've visited. Food is absolutely outstanding and very reasonably priced. Place is comfortable, casual, and perfectly clean, but by no means fancy. Service is friendly and attentive. Highly recommended


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Best Ethiopian I've had - Edit

Meskerem used to be my favorite DC area Ethiopian restaurant, but Dama has now taken that place. I've never seen or even heard of an Ethiopian restaurant doing mock meat dishes. It's also the only Ethiopian food that I've had that actually had a kick to it. I like spicy food, so I wouldn't have been unhappy if it was a little bit hotter, but like I said I haven't found any Ethiopian food to be spicy in the past. I do wish it was closer to home. I'd definitely be going a lot more often. I also had some chocolate cake, which was good.

Pros: Mock meat, Friendly staff, Relatively cheap

Cons: Not near metro, Not more of them


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Delicious! - Edit

The food here is really good. Excellent vegan mock-meat and veggie dishes. The portions are extremely large. You will be full, oh yes, you will be full. Also the cakes are delicious!

Pros: Excellent food, Great value, Friendly staff


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Amazing Ethiopian Food - Edit

I don't have much to add to the info above, but the food is consistently awesome at Dama, and it's the only Ethiopian place I've ever heard of to offer mock meats and vegan pastries! Be warned, portions are large, especially on the veggie combo!

Pros: delicious, cheap, vegan tibs!

Cons: not fancy, on bus line, but not near metro


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