Lebanese Butcher & Restaurant

Go for anything lamb at this hybrid butcher shop/restaurant.

From June 2006 Cheap Eats

The name sounds like some meanie on The Sopranos, and the soundtrack is apt to sound like shrieking bone saws, but trust us: The Lebanese Butcher is nothing to fear. Tucked away in a strip mall, this halal butcher shop/cafe is home to splendid ingredients and cooking.

Kheder Rababeh, the Lebanese butcher, immigrated here in the mid-1980s and set up shop a few years later. Much of the meat in the butcher case and kitchen comes from his Warrenton slaughterhouse.

Inside the ivy-draped cafe–fading desert prints share a wall with a neon LOS ANGELES sign–one young woman works the takeout counter and keeps an eye on the nine tables. Still, she'll take the time to walk you through the menu and steer you to her favorites. The choice is tough: a bowl of hummus with deep-green olive oil and a handful of pine nuts, a bracing tabbouleh salad, or the smokiest baba ghanoush around?

Rabbabeh's lamb is much more flavorful than what you'll find in most markets. Whether it's tightly rolled with Lebanese pickles for shawarma, nestled into rice for ouzi, or blanketed in sharp, thick yogurt for fateh, make it the center of your meal. Choosing is easier when it comes to dessert–a few tiny squares of delicate, rose-water-scented baklava.

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.