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  • The 10 best Ethiopian restaurants in the Washington area

     

    When Queen of Sheba debuted in 2005, there were no multistory condominiums with dog parks on the roof and sweeping vistas of the Shaw neighborhood. There was no Chaplin’s next door with $14 bowls of ramen and $20 pours of Japanese whiskey. There was no shortage of parking, either.

    But in the 11 years since Nigisti “Queen” Gebreyesus and her husband, Embzam Misgina, open their Ethio­pian restaurant, Shaw has become a developer’s playground, and all the shiny new commercial objects have put a squeeze on the couple’s business. In fact, before I spoke with Gebreyesus, I noticed Queen of Sheba was for sale. But the Queen told me the online listing was premature. The couple had been contemplating a sale but decided to give themselves more time to reverse their fortunes.

    The sound you hear is the $20 Diner exhaling loudly — at least for Queen of Sheba, which, based on two recent meals, is turning out some of the finest Ethio­pian fare anywhere. We don’t need to lose another standard-bearer on the Ethio­pian dining scene. Earlier this month, the owners of Zenebech Restaurant announced they would be selling their property and closing their injera-based business after an 18-year run on T Street NW, located basically next door to the renovated Howard Theatre.

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  • Ethiopia has a lot riding on its new, Chinese-built railroad to the sea

     

    The sleek, white train glides through the hilly Ethiopian countryside, the first to travel this route in nearly a decade.

    The contrast is stark as the new, Chinese-made electric train passes horse-drawn carriages, oxen hauling plows and crowds of curious village children. But soon it crosses over a gleaming six-lane expressway and snakes past a row of newly erected wind turbines — all Chinese-built and, like the train, part of Ethiopia’s ongoing effort to remake itself.

    The standard-gauge rail line, which will be officially inaugurated this week, stretches 470 miles from the capital, Addis Ababa, to the port of Djibouti, which handles 90 percent of the landlocked country’s trade and is its main window to the outside world. Seventy percent of the $3.4 billion project is financed by China’s Export-Import Bank, and it is one of the biggest of the mega-projects that Ethiopia says will transform its largely agricultural economy — once known for little more than famine and coffee — into East Africa’s manufacturing hub.

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