Newsletters

Get Dining Out delivered to your inbox every Wednesday Morning.

Malik’s Kabob in Fairfax: Dining on a Shoestring
Don’t let the name of this restaurant fool you: The kitchen turns out not just kebabs, but lots of excellent Middle Eastern and Indian dishes. By Rina Rapuano
Comments () | Published July 15, 2011
Chicken karahi, a spicy stir-fry scattered with chopped cilantro. Photograph by Scott Suchman

The paper plates and plastic cutlery are signals that Malik’s Kabob and Cafe is for people who care more about flavor than atmosphere. Evening visitors might find the cafe filled with floral-smelling hookah smoke.

But the kitchen takes pride—and shows skill—in preparing traditional Middle Eastern and Indian dishes. One person behind the counter brags that the chicken tikka masala ($8.99), served with tandoori bread and a side salad, is famous in the area. The dish gets some of its heat from the jalapeños found in many dishes here, and the complex spicing is nicely tempered by a creamy tomato sauce.

Kebabs—served with tandoori bread, rice, chickpeas, and a small salad—make up much of the menu. Standouts are the juicy boneless marinated chicken ($9.50) and the flavor-packed potato kebabs ($7.99). Ground beef ($9.50) and chunks of lamb ($9.50) were full of flavor but on the dry side. Three butterflied lamb chops ($12.99) are a better choice.

The knockout Lahori chicken karahi is the only course served in a non-disposable vessel—perhaps because karahi refers to the double-handled metal serving dish. The rich gravy is brightened by fresh ginger and cilantro, and the luscious chicken can be ordered boneless ($16.99) or bone-in ($14.99).

More From July 2011:

The Needle: Majestic, Level, and Sou'Wester

First Look: Toki Underground

Vegetables get their due with starters such as a pea-and-potato-stuffed samosa (two for $3) with a wonderfully flaky crust, and papri chaat ($4.99), a cool toss of chickpeas, tomato, jalapeño, diced potato, house-made papri (dough that’s baked and left to get crunchy), and tamarind chutney. The kitchen’s take on hummus—drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with paprika, and served with warm tandoori bread—is one of the area’s better versions of the dip. Spend your calories on this appetizer rather than forgettable desserts. Besides, it’s more fun to leave with your tongue still pleasantly stinging from all those chilies.

Malik’s Kabob and Cafe, 9542-B Arlington Blvd., Fairfax; 703-246-9005. Open daily 11 am to midnight.

This article appears in the July 2011 issue of The Washingtonian.

Subscribe to Washingtonian
Follow Washingtonian on Twitter

Follow the Best Bites Bloggers on Twitter

More>> Best Bites Blog | Food & Dining | Restaurant Finder

Categories:

From the Magazine
Subscribe to Washingtonian

Discuss this story

Feel free to leave a comment or ask a question. The Washingtonian reserves the right to remove or edit content once posted.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Posted at 01:39 PM/ET, 07/15/2011 RSS | Print | Permalink | Comments () | Washingtonian.com Blogs