Food Factory, 4221 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA, 703-527-2279, usually open. Turn left at North Stuart, coming from the west on 66, and park in the back. (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [Washingtonian | zabihah | WaPo – Phyllis Richman | City Paper | openlist | Yelp | Gayot]
Don’t let the name scare you off – this is a real ethnic restaurant. The kabobs and the breads are very tasty. The chicken, of course, should be ordered on the bone; it is tenderer that way. I prefer the chicken to the lamb. And use as much of the spicy green sauce as possible, let it seep into your bread! (You should even ask them for an extra serving of the spicy green sauce.) The spicy hamburgers (chapli burgers) are not bad either. The scooped buffet dishes vary in quality, but usually you can tell by sight. Weekends they serve Haleem, a Pakistani speciality. Haleem is a move in the direction of simply ingesting the spices directly and removing the intermediary of the food. This place now draws a pretty “white” crowd, but the quality remains high.
For people-watching Food Factory is first-rate. Go Saturday at lunch time, but there is almost always something interesting going on among the clientele. Do note that they tow cars away very easily from the parking lot, so don’t run off and take a walk. If they call to have your car towed, they won’t be very apologetic (or very polite) afterwards.
Update: It is now a hookah bar and the old Food Factory you used to know and love is gone, gone, gone. Sorry to report this. They do still have some Pakistani food.
Let me know what places
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There’s also a Food Factory II in College Park (8145-G Baltimore Ave., 301-345-8888). For what it’s worth, it’s in the same stripmall as Jerk Pit, Prince Café (the local Indian/Middle Eastern restaurant and shisha chain), and Hanami (a Japanese restaurant I haven’t tried).
OH!! I just love that green sauce from Food Factory in Arlington. Any idea what it’s called. I have a craving for it and was trying to find a recipe. I used to go to that hole in the wall alot when I worked at Ballston Commons just to get some bread and green sauce. Hmmm, I’m still recalling that yummy flavor and it’s been over 10 years now. Pathetic aren’t I. lol