Kutumeri and fufu from Open Crumb in Anacostia
Kutumeri and fufu from Open Crumb Credit: Crystal Fernanders

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Open Crumb, a family-run eatery and scratch kitchen in Historic Anacostia, specializes in West African comfort food with some American influence. Think Ghanian cuisine meets soul food. Open Crumb operated as a bakery beginning in February 2019 before adapting their takeout concept a few months later. 

“Our food is prepared from raw ingredients, and our bread and desserts are all made in house,” says head chef and co-owner Peter Opare. They do some prep the night before and bake bread fresh each morning. Every menu item is also made to order, so you are guaranteed fresh food throughout the day.

Inside are a few small tables if you decide to eat your food immediately. The restaurant has bright orange walls, and a black chalkboard wall with handwritten menus is to the right side of the takeout counter. A mini fridge with bottled drinks sits by the register, with an open kitchen behind the cashier. 

Fried chicken sandwich from Open Crumb Credit: Crystal Fernanders

Open Crumb’s sandwiches are pretty popular. Fried whiting is the top seller, with the chicken sandwich right behind it. I opted for the fried chicken, which is also available grilled. Cooks marinate chicken thighs for six hours in Cajun spices and Greek yogurt before cooking. It’s assembled between a lightly toasted brioche bun and a thick layer of comeback sauce, a creamy mayonnaise-based sauce with ketchup and spices. It is then topped with fresh lettuce, sliced tomatoes, red onions, and pickles, with the option of adding melted cheddar or mozzarella. The chicken was sooooo tender because of the yogurt marinade. If you’re on the hunt for one of the best chicken sandwiches in the DMV, this is one you absolutely have to try! 

The restaurant’s other sandwich options are blackened or fried shrimp, and four-ounce lump crabcakes, all served with a housemade tartar sauce. Roasted salmon is cooked either blackened or with a ginger curry seasoning. Proteins for all sandwiches can be served bun-less, in a bowl with your side of choice. I paired the ginger curry salmon with jollof rice and spinach stew. The sides complimented the juicy salmon filet perfectly; it was also the perfect portion. Shito, a flavor-packed spicy pepper and onion condiment, is served on the side for an added kick. 

Salmon bowl with jollof rice and spinach stew at Open Crumb Credit: Crystal Fernanders

Open Crumb has ten side dishes, served in eight- and 16-ounce portions. The jollof is most popular, a West African staple often served at parties and family gatherings. Rice is cooked with various spices, onions, peppers, and tomatoes, with its execution depending on the region. “While jollof is cooked differently in each country, it really varies per family,” Opare says. Open Crumb’s jollof is a 20-year-old recipe from his mom, Abigail. The tomatoes are cooked in a large pot until soft. Then jasmine rice, broth, and seasoning are added, and the rice steams until fluffy. 

Other starch sides include plain white rice, fried plantain, and wakye, a Ghanian rice with black-eyed peas. Vegetable options are spinach stew, fried cassava leaf, sauteed Brussels sprouts, greens braised in a mushroom stock, and a black-eyed pea stew. The mac and cheese is the side dish you must try! Each portion is baked to order in individual aluminum pans. I inhaled it and should have ordered two servings.

Open Crumb offers a handful of stews and soups. The most popular is their peanut soup, available with chicken or goat or as a vegan option. There’s also a marinated chicken stew and a goat stew, both braised with tomatoes. Kutumeri is a stew made of coco-yam leaf, egusi, tomatoes, onions, and various spices. Egusi is a protein-rich seed from melons and squash native to West Africa, often made into a soup. It gives the kutumeri a slightly nutty flavor, with a hint of spice from the seasonings. 

All the stews and soups are served with either a side or fufu. Fufu is another staple in West and Central African countries, made of plantain, white yam, or cassava. The starch is pounded until it forms a dough, then formed into a ball. It’s a labor-intensive process, sometimes made by breaking down the starch with a blender. Break off a small piece of the fufu with your fingers, and use it as a vessel for the stew of your choice. 

Open Crumb’s bread pudding Credit: Crystal Fernanders

Like all the other items, their desserts are made fresh daily. The brown butter Ghanian chocolate chip cookies are the most popular and sell out fairly quickly. Although I did not get to try them, I was still blessed with a warm slice of their amazing bread pudding, laced with allspice and nutmeg. It’s topped with a heavy drizzle of salted caramel without being overly sweet. This was one of the best bread puddings I’ve ever had. I moaned a little bit with each bite. 

Beverages are also made in house! Open Crumb serves bottles of regular and fruity lemonades. Their ginger beer is available for purchase at Whole Foods in the region. Pro tip: Mix the ginger beer with any lemonade for a refreshing drink!

Open Crumb is in a part of D.C. that’s a bit of a food desert, with fewer healthier options available at nearby takeout spots. Their nutritious, diverse, and flavorful menu is what’s needed east of the river. 

Open Crumb is located at 1243 Good Hope Road SE. Hours are Monday, Tuesday, and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Wednesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Orders can be placed online, in person, over the phone, and through DoorDash. Prices range from $5 to $24.