Cheap Eats 2008: Shamshiry

Why go: This office-park restaurant has all the elegance of a cafeteria, but its traditional Persian cooking—expertly grilled kebabs and heaps of basmati rice with jewellike accents of sour cherry, saffron, and pistachio—is a marvel.

What to get: Pilaus, rice dishes such as the carrot-topped shirin polo, sweet with rosewater and orange peel, and baghali polo, softly flavored with fava beans and dill; charcoal-grilled skewers of lamb, bone-in Cornish hen, or spiced ground beef; two appetizers—a square of feta cheese with fresh herbs, and thick, dilled yogurt—to accompany the kebabs (you can craft a fabulous lavash sandwich with a hunk of meat, a little yogurt, and a few leaves of mint and basil); Salad Shirazi, a finely chopped cucumber-and-tomato salad; saffron ice cream with cherry juice; shaved ice with glass noodles, rosewater, and lemon juice.

Best for: A big, platter-passing feast with family and friends.

Insider tip: Shamshiry doesn’t serve alcohol; try an icy pitcher of doogh, a lightly fermented yogurt drink that tastes like a savory, slightly fizzy lassi. Plain saffron rice comes with most entrées—you can liven it up with a raw egg and a shower of sumac—but the specialty pilaus are worth ordering.

Open daily for lunch and dinner.

See all Cheap Eats 2008 restaurants 

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.