Zaytinya. 701 9th St NW. Washington DC

José Andrés opened his first Greek restaurant in the city a decade ago, and it really is a remarkable space with terrific food. The freshness of Mediterranean ingredients, combined with the slow-cooked lamb, the fried parcels and pastry choices make this a good fit for the tapas-tasters and indoor picnic enthusiasts. Lamb Kleftiko and phyllo with shredded lamb were the best meat dishes, warm pide and fresh fattoush were wonderful, and the wine selection was well-matched.
Even though it is a spacious restaurant, diners have complained about noise levels in here when it is more than half full; the clattery atmosphere might bother some, but the mixed crowd and excellent service more than makes up for it.




Zorba’s Cafe. 1612 20th St NW. Washington DC

We came here on a sunny late March afternoon and sat outside eating below-average moussaka ($14.50!) and yeros washed down with some tasty imported beers. The saving grace was their grand falafel wrap ($8.50, and the pitta-less falafel plate at $11.50) which offered robust, slightly dry portions that were nevertheless tasty and fulfilling. Service is nonexistent here – you’ll need to pay the cashier first then collect your food when your buzzer alerts you. Pricey, and many miles away from Greece, and what Greek food should be.

Metro: DuPont Circle


Mitsitam Cafe. National Museum of the American Indian. 4th St & Independence Ave SW. Washington DC

This cafeteria-style eaterie on the ground (1st) floor of the museum offers fresh salads and soups as well as heartier fare such as steaks and grilled meats; the house-ground buffalo & duck burger was prime quality Americana, and the side of fries was replaced by – request – with a wild rice’n’lentil mix ($16.50). It all stood up well, but the Indian taco was a little underwhelming, and the pork cut with chocolate dressing was overpriced. Bottled wines are just a tad under $20, but the atmosphere just isn’t right for drinking, unless you’ve been walking all day or taking care of kids, in which case you’ll need this boozy pit-stop.

Metro: Federal Center