Yumyumyumyumyum. I'm a tapas/mezze lover. Small plates allow me to try a lot of different things without (a) wasting food, (b) emptying my wallet, (c) eating entirely too much. I loved Zaytinya.

No matter what you get, it's likely to be good. For dinner, I loved the arayes (pita filled with lamb), kibbeh (crisp and golden-brown bulb-shaped fritters filled with meat and spices), the falafel (old favorite, but seriously, it's a must) and the grape leaves. I would eat everything that I had again, but it's necessary to mix it up so eventually you hit everything on the menu. I already forgot how good the spanikopita (feta and spinach in phyllo dough) was--it comes out last and it is worth the wait.

The creamy hint-of-a-tangy-note labneh transported me back to the breakfast table in Israel, a place where the produce has a sharper, brighter taste and the cheeses cause the word "portion" to disappear from my vocabulary. The staff thankfully keeps refilling the basket of their pita, a 3-D diamond-shaped pocket-like bread, which entertains me on the table as the steam pours out of a small hole at the top. Dip it in every sauce, cheese, and yogurt. You know, just to make sure it's still good.

A note about the wine: Though $9 for the cheapest glass made me do a double-take, this "glass" was more like 1.5--the large pour was pleasing.

Brunch is equally delightful at Zaytinya. The patata harra, a stated favorite of our server, was a tasty treat--a fried egg placed prettily on top of a hashy potato mixture. The omelet with vegetables was very vegetable-y tasting--not my favorite, but still good. My FAVORITE were the poached eggs (cilbir) with Greek yogurt, paprika butter, and sumac. After the initial puncture, the running egg yolks and deliciously creamy sauce were subjected to my incessant dipping with my pita. I also think this dish offers the most bang for your buck, because it's a lot of food (especially with the abundant opportunity to dip) for $6.95. The traditional Lebanese French toast (with honey-marinated bananas) was so moist that my father refused to believe it was actually made of bread--he likened it to flan, the Spanish custard dessert. It tasted like a grand finale for me, too!

Servers recommend 2-3 dishes per person, and for brunch we ordered 2 per person plus 3 more for the table of 6 total guests. We had plenty and all left full.

Service is friendly--our hummus was forgotten but we received two orders of fried eggplant, which we promptly ate. We were only charged for what we ate.

I'm totally obsessed...I think Zaytinya is my new favorite restaurant in DC.
1. Not super-expensive
2. Ridiculously delicious
3. Many options
4. Lots of sharing
5. Lots of cheese

Updated note: Forgot to tell ya'll how it's superdeeduper loud at dinnertime because da bar iz hoppin. If you are bringing old folks, try brunch! It's quiet and reservations don't need to be made 3 weeks in advance, harumph.

701 9th St NW
Metro: Green, Red, or Yellow line to Gallery Place, or Blue, Orange, or Red Line to Metro Center. It's situated pretty much in between, and they are close together.


Trader Joe's

I like to pretend ooh look at me, I'm iEatDC, I go out to eat all the time, but truthfully, I only go out once or so per week. Maybe twice, usually once for dinner and once for lunch or brunch on the weekend. And often I go to "the usual," which is why I don't post as often as (I like to believe) you'd like.

Most of my food comes from Trader Joe's, so I'm going to take this opportunity to share with you the delights that I've received from this fabulous specialty grocery chain. And I will note that TJ carries MANY Kosher options, including Glatt Kosher chicken breasts (can't even find those in a big "regular" supermarket usually). AND, they sell reusable bags for a dollar, and no matter how much we buy the amazing friendly staff always can pack it into two bags.

And to dispel any misplaced fears, NO, Trader Joe's is NOT expensive! In fact, for all the prepared foods and frozen stuff we get, it's downright cheap.

Pretzel slims - like crackers, but pretzels. Low cal and good for picking up dip or chicken salad
Everything Crackers - Best. Crackers. Ever.
Frozen spinach dip - the square box, it's RIDICULOUSLY good and quick
WINE - there are some wines here that I LOVE and only find at TJ, including a great $3.99 Vinho Verde.
Cherry tomatoes - I think they are $2.29 for a container twice as large as the usual grocery store, and J thinks they are delish.

Meals (or Meal Components)
Puffins breakfast cereal - peanut butter is da bomb
Frozen marinated fish (most recently Mahi Mahi) - takes less than 10 minutes to broil in the oven for dinner, and it's yumtastic
Pizza dough - $1.99 for dough (regular, whole wheat, or garlic and herb) and we put whatever we want on it
Prepared grilled chicken - Whether it's rosemary, plain, or lemon pepper, this chicken is great to add to salads, but on pizza, or to heat up on its own.
Wraps - My personal favorite is the turkey "club" with turkey bacon, spinach, and sun-dried tomato spread. If I'm feeling crazy I heat up this wrap, then take out the filling and put it on top of a salad, tossing the actual wrap in the trash. Lower carb and very crunch!

I'm starting to feel like my mother--I need to go to four different stores to get everything I want and need (Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Regular Supermarket--prob Harris Teeter, and a bulk store). But it's worth it.

Trader Joe's
25th and L
Metro: Orange or Blue Line to Foggy Bottom


Drive to 5847 Leesburg Pike, Bailey's Crossroads



Adega is charming. Where else can you leisurely sip a glass of wine while clicking away on your laptop (free wireless!)? The answer is: No where.

Located in Metro-accessible downtown Silver Spring, Adega is perfect for both a study session AND a yummy meal. Recently, 5 of us found a table (lucky on a Saturday night) and shared a delicious bottle of Pinot Noir (no corking fee, because this place IS a wine shop as well), and our food arrived approximately 6 minutes after we ordered it. It seemed like less because we were served the wine in between, but STILL it was so fast.

The Adega mixed green salad puts my usual cheap-fast-lunch-salad at Cosi to shame. With caramelized pears, roasted pecans, and bleu cheese, this "mixed green salad" is anything but the way it sounds. Doesn't that name connote some leaves and dressing on a plate? Nuts+ fruit + cheese = great.

Have I mentioned that we started with a HUGE plate ($2.49) of eggplant fries that were DELICIOUS. Five people shared this appetizer.

Sandwiches like The Prosciutto (substituted foccacia for baguette), Southwestern Turkey Chipotle, and a smoked salmon wrap were enjoyed by my companions. NOTE THE SPECIALS--I was saddened to see that they were out of the soup of the day by the time we arrived, I have a feeling their soups are full of homemade non-mass-produced deliciousness.

Even with a bottle of wine, this was an extremely inexpensive yet enjoyable meal for the 5 of us. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, helping out with wine selection and letting you make any substitution you choose without giving you that "OH you want THIS but not THAT" face. Because they don't hate their lives. Because this place rocks.

8519 Fenton Street
Metro: Red Line to Silver Spring
Adega Wine Cellars & Cafe on Urbanspoon



Carlyle is one of the Great American Restaurants, a familiar group that includes Arties, Coastal Flats, Mike's American, Sweetwater Tavern, Silverado, and Best Buns Bread Co.

The restaurant is in Shirlington, a place little known to the Metro-dependent, but worth the trip. It's housed in a large U-shaped shopping center (Clarendon-like) that includes other good restaurants, shopping, AND a movie theater. Heck, take your next date to Shirlington.

I recommend you make this date at lunch time. I consider myself a brunch connoisseur, and let me tell you, it seems it isn't easy to get it right. Boulevard Woodgrill? Eh, it's ok. Harry's Tap Room? Pretty good, not spectacular. Tallula? On the downhill.

With fresh (still-warm) powdered donuts (a friend claimed they are donut-like rolls, not straight up donuts) and slices of a loaf of (carrot and nut?) bread, Carlyle knows how to start you off on the right foot. For entrees, the lunchgoers AND their breakfast-only counterparts will both be please. I enjoyed the most fabulous (and huge) piece of grilled salmon (very hot, temperature-wise) on top of a crunchy salad with dates, pine nuts, and dried cranberries, and some of my comrades had pieces of delicious (I didn't taste it, but from the way one of them rolled her eyes in the back of her head in delight after the first bite...) French toast, each piece so thick they were practically blocks, not slices. You can get straight up sweetness with French toast served with berries, or go savory with some eggs and meat on the side. There are sandwiches, salads, and fish dishes galore--the only complaint I have is that there's no big fluffy veggie omelet.

You can even get a $1 treat from Best Buns for Fido.

Dinner is similarly tasty, but of course the bread in the basket isn't donut-like at all...tear. The variety of cocktails, beers, and wines by the glass will make your whole party happy. Between us, we had steak, pork tenderloin, and the parmesan and herb crusted flounder (TWO filets, one would have sufficed--I took the other home but fish reheated is always ehh). The creamy mashed cauliflower is my favorite side--I keep spooning it up until my spoon comes up empty. I have yet to have dessert at Carlyle, but if I did, I'd have the flourless chocolate waffle. Maybe next time.

4000 Campbell Avenue
Arlington, VAjavascript:void(0)
Publish Post
Metro: No rail, but probably a bus...somewhere. We drove, free parking on weekends!
Carlyle on Urbanspoon



When we were in need of delicious Ethiopian food in Silver Spring, I turned to our trusty #1 recommenders of all things food/cooking related (especially if it involves MD), my brother- and sister-in-law.

Silver Spring is rife with Ethiopian restaurants, and you can definitely choose at your own risk—I’m sure they are all decent, but something about Abol sets it apart from the rest. I’ll try to elaborate.

1) The dishes are not served on injera (the spongy, sort of sour bread that is used to pick up the meat/veggies), but on a platter—injera comes rolled up in baskets, so none is wasted and it’s not soggy or saturated with sauce (yet!). Also, the divided sections for the food on the platter made the food easier to pick up. Ethiopian and Eritrean restaurants customarily don’t give patrons silverware (that’s what injera is for!), but when food is in piles scattered over a large round tray of injera, it can be difficult or messy to pick up the food.

2) The service here is really great—a really friendly and homey atmosphere. Not surprisingly, a soccer game is playing on a large flat panel screen. While eating, one server approaches with a big basket to offer us “traditional Ethiopian bread”, big thick pieces of a wheat loaf, a nice contrast after so much injera. When we finished eating, we were offered some Ethiopian coffee (small cups of black coffee, think Turkish/Arabic style--just as dark but not as thick). Deeeelicious. We weren’t charged for either of those extras, they were offered to us in a friendly manner by our hosts in order to ensure our comfort and fine experience.

We were the only ones dining when we first arrive, but that doesn’t scare me, and it shouldn’t scare you either!

Of course, Ethiopian food is a great deal, especially for groups, and Abol is no exception. One meat and one veggie combination platter (each for 2) for 4 people was more than enough (we could have had another person or two probably) and with drinks we were barely at $10 per person.

My cousins were joining us, and for one, it was his first experience with Ethiopian cuisine. I'm glad Abol was the spot for the occasion!

8626 Colesville Rd (Next to Ray’s the Classics, across from the AFI Silver)
Metro: Silver Spring
Abol on Urbanspoon



I feel like I owe you this: The last few times I've been to Tallula for brunch I was pretty disappointed. Changed menus with less stuff I want, no (or extremely slow) refills on my coffee (despite the fact that the place is never really packed--here's why!), and mucked up orders. I've realized that when there's more than 2 people in a party, at least one person's dish will come out incorrect. I know substitutions can be annoying, but if you offer a "build your own omelet" option, and I order it with my two specified fillings, and then it arrives with "the works," what's the excuse?

I enjoyed Tallula better when I go with just one other person (keep it simple for them) and I sit outside with the summer menu and my Illy iced coffee. All of my indoor experiences have disappointed.

I'll keep all the faithful readers updated on any future improvement!