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Mar 3, 2008 12:38 PM

Cheap middle eastern in DC

I always see threads about great middle eastern food in places I don't recognize (read suburbs). Does anyone have a good go-to place in DC for falafel, shwarma, shishtauok? And I've been to that Zatinya (sp?) restaurant - that is not true middle eastern food - it is way too fancy and portions are super small.


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  1. Old City of Jerusalem Cafe in Adams Morgan is excellent. I eat there at least once a week. It's up columbia about 1/2 a block from 18th. They have all the things you mentioned and a fantastic salad bar.

    1 Reply
    1. re: gatorfoodie

      I agree on Old City. It's the best.
      There is also Fresh Med in Cleveland Park. I think it's quite good.
      I have not enjoyed Quick Pita on multiple visits, and prefer George's for middle eastern in Georgetown.

    2. Quick Pita in Georgetown! It's just north of M on Potomac, west of Wisconsin.

      1. Zaytinya is a tapas place (small plates), where they recommend you order 3-4 dishes per person. Definitely on the upscale end.

        There was a good shwarma cart on 14th St. between F and G last fall, but I haven't frequented that area for lunch in some time. Not sure if it's still there.

        1 Reply
        1. re: humblegourmand

          I haven't seen it in months. One of my go-to lunch places

        2. Amsterdam Falafel in Adams Morgan is my absolute favorite. They also have the best frites!!

          1. Buy a map, rent a car and drive to Tyson's Corner. Shamshiry is the equal of the best in Tehran. There are specific reasons why it has survived for almost twenty years without an English speaking clientel: the food. Much of what is served IS the equal of what you will find in Tehran. For whatever reason the owners chose not to locate in D. C. (where I was born). As I found my way to the suburbs perhaps so should you, at least for dinner...

            7 Replies
            1. re: Joe H

              Shamshiry is indeed wonderful, but with a somewhat limited menu specializing mostly in chelo kabob. They don't have falafel, shwarma, etc.

              If you do come to the Tyson's Corner area, very close by in Falls Church, is Lebanese Butcher. Amazing Middle Eastern food, dirt cheap prices, and very authentic. Not a lot of ambiance though...

              Lebanese Butcher & Restaurant
              109 E Annandale Rd, Falls Church, VA 22046

              8607 Westwood Center Dr, Vienna, VA 22182

              1. re: FoodieGrrl

                I love Amsterdam Falafel, but pass it up now for Jerusalem Cafe. The salad bar at Jerusalem is not as vibrant looking, but fresh nonetheless, and their menu offers a lot more than just falafel. Not to mention the restaurant is more spacious.

                Maybe this year I'll finally hit Shamshiry, during Persian/Iranian New Year to see what they have to offer, and pass up the lukewarm Kebab Bazaar buffet.

                1. re: Minger

                  Can you go back for seconds (or thirds, fourths) at the salad bar? It's my favorite part of these types places. I've only been to Amsterdam once--very late night--and I vaguely recall one of the employees yelling at someone about going up there.

                  1. re: Jacey

                    I believe it's one trip only to the salad bar at both places.

                2. re: FoodieGrrl

                  A couple of months ago, several people here who loved the food decided to write off Lebanese Butcher because of the "butcher shop odor." I haven't been there since I saw these comments (not the reason why I haven't been there) but I don't recall an odor.

                  Is it still a problem? Was it ever a problem?

                  1. re: MikeR

                    I was just there a couple of nights ago and didn't notice any odor. Of course, that might be due to the fact that I was so immersed in my food. When we popped into the actual shop next door, there was a slight odor, but not something that was really that bad or even very noticeable. Perhaps it depends on what is coming from the slaughterhouse that day?

                    1. re: MikeR

                      I was there for lunch about a month ago and sat at the table by the "door" to the butcher shop. I could definitely smell it, although growing up on a beef farm that kind of thing doesn't really bother me I have smelled much worse more often. I think if you sat at a table further away you would be fine though it was very strong.