January 2007: 100 Very Best Restaurants

A cool, contemporary Greek bistro.

No. 48: Mourayo

Don’t expect to see a waiter set a brick of brandy-soaked Kasseri cheese afire with his Bic. And forget about rousing cries of “Opa!” Zorba has gone chic at this Dupont Circle cafe, which looks like what you’d get if you squeezed the dining room of a cruise liner into a one-bedroom apartment.

Upscale Greek might seem as improbable as high-end Amish, but the kitchen, under the direction of chef Rudy Bourucas, makes a persuasive case, retaining the robustness of traditional Greek cooking while aiming for something lighter and brighter. The pleasures are scattered throughout the menu: a plate of yogurt-topped grilled zucchini; a mound of zesty, tomato-soaked fava beans; a chargrilled, five-pointed star of purple-rimmed octopus set against a puddle of black squid ink and graced by a couple of green, football-shaped scoops of fava-bean purée; soft hunks of long-simmered goat swimming in a complex, rice-thickened broth; a square of rosewater-soaked semolina cake with poached pears.

The plating can be precious, and prices are high—entrées lurk in the mid-$20s—for a kitchen that doesn’t go to great lengths with its sourcing, but this is one of the city’s underappreciated restaurants. Dinner as theater may be more lovable, but it’s not more rewarding.

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 Logan Circle.