Ravi Kabob House

June 2006 Cheap Eats

Don't let the name limit your choices. Good as the kebabs are at this Pakistani cash-only operation–and they are among the area's best–the jewels here are the three variations of karahi. Presented in small, hammered-steel bowls resembling handleless woks, they're brimming with long-marinated meats (the lamb arrives with a still-pink interior) in a sauce ignited by slivers of ginger and a scattering of green chilies. Combining the fire of Szechuan cooking with the complexity of Indian cooking, they will have you digging your plastic fork in long after you've had your fill, just to unravel its secrets. And each is big enough for two, possibly three.

There are seven kinds of kebab–lamb, beef, and chicken varieties, all marinating in a refrigerated case up front before hitting the grill and sending out their seductively smoky perfume. Tender, lightly spicy lamb chops are adorned with aluminum-foil caps to prevent the jutting bones from burning. Seekh kebab, an aromatically spiced ground meat molded around a metal skewer, is juicy and well-charred but still slightly pink on the inside. The red-tinged bone-in chicken is perfectly moist.

All orders come with two sides–the gently spiced chickpeas are slowly simmered and luscious–and a round of hot, puffed bread, ideal for tearing and wrapping around a hunk of meat.

There are no waiters, but the lack of table service doesn't mean you won't be looked after. A kind, white-capped gentleman watches over the dining room and will pack leftovers with as much care as his colleagues at the grill lavish on the cooking.

Appetizers $1.25 to $2.50, entrées $9 to $17.

Open daily for lunch and dinner.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.