African Food in the Washington, DC Area
Diversity in the Washington, DC area, Baltimore even, lends itself to a wealth of culture, including restaurants, inspired by these world cultures. Another great thing about the area is that these restaurants are pretty easy to find either through Google or Yelp searches, or just breezing through the city.
…major score for metropolitan living.
Since my parents and grandparents were in town and I didn’t want to go to a traditional chain restaurant, I hopped on Google, searched “African restaurants near me” and “African restaurants near DC”. The return yielded a long list of restaurants. We decided upon the one with the highest rating and most realistic comments because I feel some kind of way about Yelp Reviews.
Our choice for the early evening was Little Kampala Restaurant in Laurel, MD. I was a little excited to try this place because it reminded me of my time in Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi has a healthy Ugandan Community and being linked to such great memories is always pleasurable.
Little Kampala restaurant is located in N. Laurel at 10110 Washington Blvd, Laurel, MD. Laurel is located about 30 minutes outside of Washington, DC and 20 minutes from downtown Baltimore.
The restaurant is located in a shared, small plaza with free parking. Spaces may be limited during peak times with the other businesses.
The restaurant offers a relaxed setting with spirited background music, a bar area and approximately 5 booths and 8 -10 tables. Upon entering, it’s not clear if patrons should wait to be seated or self-seat. Perhaps signage could clarify. During our time there, we noticed other first time visitors were a little confused by this as well. We were eventually greeted and told that we could pick any available table. I’m not sure if this is the same during crowded times or during their weekend buffet.
When we visited, we had a waitress in training, who was kind, and a seasoned waitress who was a little impatient especially when trying to navigating the menu selections. I wish she would have been a little more open to questions about the menu.
After a bit of confusion about the menu choices and which were meals vs entrees, I settled on the beef choma. The beef choma is grilled steak pieces with two sides. I selected collard greens and rice. The steak was well seasoned coupled with grilled flavorings, however it was tough and chewy. A different cut or a marinade could have made the beef selection perfect. The collard greens were delightful. They seemed to be steamed with hints of garlic and onion. The rice seemed to have the East African and Arab influence that I love but it was slightly dry. I’ve had West African Rice dishes, Ghanaian and Nigerian Jollof, and both were a little dry as well. So, I’m not sure if the dryness is purposeful or an error of the chef. The dryness did not take away from the tastes and it heats up well as a leftover, just add a little water to soften.
One of my parents ordered the 1/2 chicken choma. I’m glad they did. The entree/meal came with three pieces of perfectly grilled chicken. The char taste blended perfectly with the selected spices. The selected sides were rice, same as above, and cabbage. The cabbage blend included green and red peppers, onions, black pepper, and what seemed to be a hint of garlic. My dinner companions enjoyed the flavor and recommends it as a side. We shared the same sentiments on the dryness found with the rice. The flavor was perfect but would have been excellent with a fluffier version.
Just a note, there’s a Kampala Heat sauce that’s available. Unless you’re a huge fan of spicy sauces, do not put this on your food. If you’d like to try it, try a dot on the side and have plenty of water near by. The sauce seems to be a blend of sriracha and horseradish. Lastly, if you order a chapati, asked that it’s fully cooked and fluffy.
We gave this restaurant 3.5 stars out of 5. The pluses were the chicken choma, relaxing atmosphere, selection of sides and free parking. The minuses were the impatient waitress and dry rice.
See inside Little Kampala