The State of Lebanese Cuisine in DC
I saw a bulletin board post on the internet from a New York Lebanese woman who ate at Bacchus in DC and proclaimed it far and away better than Lebanese restaurants in NYC.
It got me to thinking: we have so many Lebanese restaurants in this area; is Lebanese DC's great unheralded cuisine?
Could be. One problem resulting in it not standing out as a cuisine is that it tends to get lumped together with all the other Middle Eastern cuisines, which isn't really fair to any of them. We'll compare kebobs, bread, and other dishes among Lebanese, Afghan, Iranian, Pakistani and other places as if they all represent a single cuisine. They don't, and we all should pay more attention to the differences.
We've loved Bacchus since shortly after opened. Fatte bel djaj and bel lahm are wonderful. As is the chicken dish with garlic, but I can't think of the name. There are many excellent mezze. We haven't gone as much recently because of the greater Lebanese options around--and a couple of less-than-stellar experiences there. For example, one time the fatoosh was made with balsamic vinegar. It was horrible, and we should have sent it back. The next time it was it's old lovable self. As the owner began spending more time at his other restaurants, it seems as if the Dupont location is more spotty.
While I generally agree with the other poster about Lebanese Taverna, there are some good things there if you order carefully (i.e., NOT their fatoosh or their felafel). I like to stop at the market on Lee Hwy for carryout on summer days too hot to cook.
In NoVa, there is also Lyalina on Wilson Blvd. While it can be pricey, particularly given the portion size, there are some very good choices there--particularly the daily specials and most anything with eggplant.
Finally, we are blessed to have Lebanese Butcher in Falls Church. I would love to know the NY woman's opinion of this place. I find their felafel and fatoosh to be the best around. The chicken tawook (sp?) is amazing, and I crave it sometimes. The lamb is very fresh, too. I believe they have their own slaughter place in Virginia.
Also there is a hole-in-the-wall place in Tysons Corner with a very awkward name and usually has a few gentleman smoking from hookahs inside. The food is quite good. I've seen others as well in Virginia and Maryland.
LebTav used to be one of my favorites in the area. I ate only at the original Arlington location, and once in Woodley when it first opened. It was always terrific. But after they remodeled in Arlington and changed their menu, I felt it was not the same. My only recent experiences are with the Market, which remains very good.
I have been to this hole-in-the-wall too, in a small strip mall on the north (or is it west?) side of Rte. 7 across from Tysons Corner mall. We are huge fans of Lebanese Butcher and were thrilled to find this place also. We only had appetizers there, since we were in a snack-y mood at the time, but wished we were hungry enough to eat a full meal.