Cheap Eats 2007: Zaytinya
Comments () | Published July 10, 2007
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Address: 701 Ninth St., NW, Washington, DC 20001
Phone: 202-638-0800
Neighborhood: Penn Quarter/Chinatown, Downtown
Cuisines: Turkish, Spanish/Portuguese, Tapas/Small Plates, Lebanese, Greek/Mediterranean
Opening Hours: Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday and Sunday for brunch, lunch, and dinner.
Nearby Metro Stops: Metro Center, Gallery Place-Chinatown
Price Range: Moderate
Noise Level: Chatty
Reservations: Recommended
Best Dishes Htipiti; fried eggplant; taramasalata; zucchini-and-cheese fritters; poached salmon with eggplant; veal cheeks with chanterelle-mushroom purée; prawns with charred-tomato sauce; salmon shawarma sandwich (lunch only)
At this Gallery Place mezzeteria, the grape leaves are wrapped around peppered Pipe Dreams goat cheese, the desserts come with yogurt mousse and honey-scented gelées, and microgreens are strewn across almost every plate. These are Greek, Turkish, and Lebanese dishes as imagined by José Andrés, the chef whose small-plates empire includes Jaleo.

Minding the Cheap Eats budget is difficult but not impossible. Two mezze per person doesn’t make a feast, but the flavors are often big and bold. To go with the just-baked pita that kicks things off, look to bowls of fluffy hummus and rich tzatziki. The creamy tomato-and-feta-laced broth that covers mussels named for cookbook author Paula Wolfert doubles as a terrific dip. Airy carrot fritters, shrimp sizzling with butter and dill, and robust hunkar begendi—braised lamb over rich, satiny eggplant purée—are also sure things.

The stark white-on-white dining room with orchid-filled glass canisters and cathedral candles is often crammed with patrons from the communal table to the bar. The restaurant now takes a limited number of dinner reservations; otherwise, expect to stand for an hour. Be patient. Cooking this rich and varied and affordable is worth waiting for.

Open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner.
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Posted at 12:28 PM/ET, 07/10/2007 RSS | Print | Permalink | Restaurant Reviews