Cuisine: Subtle spicing and assured cooking—from vegetable stews to open-faced meat-and-leek-filled dumplings—set a high standard for the area’s Afghan restaurants.
Mood: Afghan textiles and rugs give the white-walled space a gallery-like feel, but when tables fills up, conversation can get lively, transforming one of Bethesda’s most intimate hideaways into a convivial party.
Best for: Families and groups who enjoy sharing; vegetarians.
Best dishes: Fried appetizer pastries such as bulanee (with leeks) and sambosa (with meat and chickpeas); open-faced dumplings known as mantu (with meat) and aushak (with scallions), blanketed with creamy yogurt and meat sauce; quabili pallow, a fragrant heap of brown basmati rice studded with carrots, raisins, and braised lamb; stewed pumpkin with yogurt sauce; melting eggplant; spinach with onion and garlic.
Insider tips: Several dishes are finished with dabs of tomatoey meat sauce and yogurt, which can make for a meal of redundancies; mix it up when ordering. Desserts are not a high point.
Open Tuesday through Sunday for dinner. Inexpensive.