News & Politics

August 2001: Anatolia

Good food, attractive surroundings, and genuine hospitality make this Turkish restaurant one of the most pleasant places for a casual meal on the House side of the Capitol. The selection of mezze, or appetizers, that usually start a Middle Eastern meal are of very high quality. Baba ghanoush is smoky with the flavor of roasted eggplant. Hummus is tart, garlicky, and fresh-tasting. Grape leaves are stuffed with rice, pine nuts, currants, and fresh mint. Roasted eggplant is topped with a tart, house-made yogurt. All are accompanied by freshly baked pita bread. You can sample them all by ordering a mezze platter for the table.

Kebabs–meat cooked on a skewer–are a big part of the menu. Try the lamb or beef yogurtlu kebab, good-quality meat served over crisp pita bread with yogurt and marinara sauce, accompanied by grilled vegetables and a delicious rice pilaf. Adana kebab, ground lamb molded around a skewer and grilled, is nicely spiced and delicious. Doner kebab–thin slices of marinated lamb formed into a loaf, roasted on a vertical rotisserie, then sliced and served with yogurt and tomato sauce over crisp pieces of pita bread–is served as a Friday-night special, which means that Fridays are Anatolia's busiest nights. Lamb shank is long-cooked, falling-off-the-bone tender, and full of flavor. Izgara köfte, grilled-lamb patties, are crisp on the outside and moist and spicy within. Chicken dishes tend to be dry and not as interesting as lamb or beef.

Anatolia, 633 Pennsylvania Ave., SE; 202-544-4753. Open Monday through Friday for lunch, Monday through Saturday for dinner.