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.

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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.

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Metro: DuPont Circle

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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.

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Metro: Federal Center

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