Subscribe Now »

Special Holiday Deal

Give the Gift of the

Give one person a magazine subscription for $29.95, and get each additional subscription for just $19.95.

Fettoosh (Full Review)
The welcome is warm at this Lebanese/Moroccan cafe
Reviewed By Rina Rapuano
Comments () | Published October 17, 2011
Address: 5100 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22203
Phone: 703-527-7710
Neighborhood: Arlington, Ballston
Opening Hours: Open daily 10 AM to 10 PM
Nearby Metro Stops: Ballston-MU
Price Range: Inexpensive
Dress: Informal
Noise Level: Chatty
Reservations: Not Needed
Price Details: $2.50 to $11.95

Fettoosh’s vegetarian platter is a feast of dips, falafel, grape leaves, spinach pie, and salads. Photographs by Scott Suchman

It would be easy to whiz right by Fettoosh, a Lebanese/Moroccan cafe in a strip mall just west of Ballston. But look for the fleet of taxis out front—a sign that the place is serving Middle Easterners a taste of home. While the gold-walled dining room isn’t rich in atmosphere, the service warms up the place. Big smiles from the waiters—along with the complimentary coffee, pastry, and sweetened mint tea that sometimes arrive at the table unordered—make diners feel welcome.

Sweet mint tea is a pleasant way to wind down a meal at Fettoosh.

The menu’s best value is the shareable Vegetarian Combo ($8.95), which comes with silky hummus and baba ghanoush; warm stuffed grape leaves; freshly fried falafel; and a cheese pie and a spinach pie, which were tasty but suffered from a turn in the microwave. The platter is rounded out with parsley-loaded tabbouleh and the Fettoosh Salad, a mixture of diced cucumber, tomato, onion, and green pepper. Other veggie options—such as a well-seasoned lentil soup ($2.50) and a warm, lemony fava-bean stew called foul modamas ($4.95)—are satisfying and healthy.

For meat seekers, the best bet is the shish tawook ($9.50). The tender garlic-and-lemon-marinated chicken cubes get a boost from a dash of cumin and the charcoal grill. Farrouj mishwi ($8.95), a half chicken on the bone with good dark meat, is similarly flavored and is served with garlic sauce. Kibbi bi-leben ($11.95), a comforting dish from the Syrian city of Aleppo, is fried beef-and-pine-nut nuggets smothered in a cilantro-yogurt sauce. Sandwiches are less interesting, sparsely filled wraps made up mostly of meat and chopped tomato and onion. The spicy maqanik sausages tucked into one ($5.95) and the semi-dry meat in the shish kebab ($5.95) could use some sauce. Entrées are the way to go.

Fettoosh also offers a Moroccan special each day and recently introduced an entire Moroccan menu.

Baklava ($2) was soggy and cloying. Baked squares of semolina and milk ($2) are a better dessert choice. But the refreshing complimentary mint tea or a Turkish coffee ($2.50) is the best way to end a meal.

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

Subscribe to Washingtonian
Follow Washingtonian on Twitter

Subscribe to Washingtonian
Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 10/17/2011 RSS | Print | Permalink | Restaurant Reviews