Nov. 3rd, 2010

Zaytinya: DC's Top Mediterranean Restaurant

Washington DC Restaurants: Last week a colleague suggested lunch in the Penn Quarter area which has no shortage of good restaurants. But quick, fresh, upscale and different, too? We both agreed on Zaytinya, one of DC's more inspiring restaurants.

The floor-to-ceiling glass wall along 9th street gives the restaurant an inviting feel and easily showcases the busyness of the downtown lunch crowd. An innovative mezze (small bite) menu is inspired by Turkish, Greek and Lebanese cuisines served in a sleek and modern setting. It's the perfect spot for exploring tastes without entrée portions.

My colleague and I started with the Hommus which had a lively, extra taste of lemon and thick consistency. It was served with a basket of puffed pita shells that collapsed into soft tortilla-like small pockets when handled. We split two mezzas, the Garides Saganaki (sautéed shrimp with tomatoes, green onions, kefalograviera cheese, and ouzo) served bubbling warm in a small, iron skillet and the Aglaia Kremezi style Crab Cakes with roasted garlic yogurt that rivaled any eaten on the Eastern Shore. Together the three mezzas were ample for lunch.

Other top choices on the lunch menu are Dukkah Crusted Halibut with baby arugula and roasted pepper almond puree, traditional Turkish braised lamb shank with eggplant-kefalograviera puree, Crispy Skirt Steak with pickled radish and yogurt, and Spanakopita (phyllo, spinach, feta cheese). There are ample selections in each category — beef, seafood, vegetarian, chicken and appetizers. For $22 you can get one mezza from each of three categories plus dessert — either Greek apricots with yogurt or walnut ice cream. A little more than we could enjoy with our rushed schedule, but the first choice of the regulars we spoke to sitting around us.

Zaytinya allows dining to be as quick as you want. Or as leisurely as you prefer. It's the well-established Mediterranean hotspot in DC; located at 701 9th Street NW (corner of G and 9th Streets). Since opening in 2003, Zaytinya has ranked consistently as a "Top DC Dining Destination."
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