One of the best ethnic restaurants in DC, and indeed one of the best restaurants in DC period. This is from the Afghan Bistro people, except turned into a normal restaurant with nice décor, rather than a mom and pop. And yet the prices are still reasonable. Most of all, get the complex stews and the vegetable dishes. The kadu is from butternut squash, and is the best in the area. The eggplant and aushak are also first-rate, this place is a winner all-around. Reservations typically are required, even for off-hours, as the place does fill up.
Chinese and Korean and fusion, this place is all the rage with DC food critics. Everything here is quite good, and the dish with rice, brisket, and egg is one of the better dishes in town. Nothing is outrageously priced. The space is small, it fills up early, and there are only limited reservations. Unlike most lower-priced places in DC, it genuinely seems to be well run. So I am quite enthusiastic, and if I simply stumbled upon this place I would give it a rave review. As it stands, I can’t help but feel it is a wee bit overrated. Most of the dishes are on the “quite good by suburban standards for Asian” level, which is a) on its own quite good, and b) a miracle of sorts for SE Washington, DC. But for those of us from said suburbs, we might be just a little bit less impressed.
An excellent Pakistani place, fresh-tasting and closely tied to Pakistani street food. I like most of all the potato dish, the channa, the samosas, and nihari, a kind of beef stew. Chicken tikka is usually a boring dish but here it shines. The biryani is OK but I did not find it above average. Definitely recommended, and a fun scene too.
Food from the Caucasus, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Moroccan, and the Middle East. Excellent all around! This is a place to get many of the options, with a group, rather than to see the single stand-out course. It also has the most fun décor of any place I know in DC. Usually I hate places that try to look cool, but this restaurant really does look cool! This is a very nice addition to the local dining scene. It’s in the “I definitely can go back many times” category rather than the “I’ve tried their best dishes and can move on” slot. Not cheap and not a mom and pop, but hey you wanted DC gentrification, didn’t you?
Not Italian but rather more of a nouvelle blend, expensive, has some very fine dishes (by Chef Ryan Ratino, a Medina, Ohio native). I recommend the linguini with uni, the foie gras, and the cabbage side dish along with the side of root vegetables. Those I all liked very much. The ribs were dull, the char a bit fishy/smoky, and the desserts only so-so.
One of the less-reported stories is the hollowing out of central northern Virginia for really good Indian food; these days it is mostly out by Dulles. But Punjabi by Nature is well above average. The main branch in Vienna has excellent vegetarian dishes, and most of all get their three chicken specials, marked as chef’s specialties on the menu, some of them having a Punjabi twist. The branch in Chantilly has a more regional menu, is more of a mom and pop, maybe preferable for me but they are both good if not quite the answer to my pleas.
At this point in Bolivian reviewing, or should I say Cochabamba reviewing, it should suffice to note the differences across places. Overall they are pretty similar. I would say this one has a somewhat broader menu than average, a larger and livelier crowd than average, and the silpancho is especially moist. So it is above-average in a field that is already itself above-average. That said, I still choose my Bolivian meals on the basis of geography and proximity, and probably you should too.
This is an offshoot of Eyo Sports Bar on George Mason Drive, same proprietor, more or less the same menu. Like its parent, this is one of the best Ethiopian places around, most of all for the kitfo. It is spacious whereas the Sports Bar is cozy. I prefer the Sports Bar for the atmosphere, but if you are actually taking out a group of people this is likely the more comfortable and convenient alternative.