Cheap Eats 2011: Bamian

On the outside, the flashiest thing about this Baileys Crossroads restaurant is its red neon open sign. But go in and you’ll come upon the area’s most elegant Afghan dining room, complete with fanned linen napkins and chandeliers. Although the surroundings make it a popular spot for parties–you might find half the main room closed off for a banquet–you can wander in wearing jeans and feel at home. Start things off with a round of mantu, the thin-skinned, free-form beef dumplings that are smothered in tangy meat sauce, mint, and thick yogurt. Kebabs are generous, juicy, and flavorful, save for the sirloin skewers, which arrived tough and dry. Kebab platters include a helping of qabili palow, the fragrant and sweet rice dish threaded with carrots and raisins. Supplement the meats–and the soft tandoor-baked bread that accompanies it–with a platter of vegetarian sides, which include stir-fried eggplant and kadu, the easy-to-like dish of candy-sweet pumpkin countered with tart yogurt.

Also good: Aushak, scallion dumplings; sambosas, fried chickpea-stuffed pastries; lamb rib kebabs; chicken kebabs.

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 Logan Circle.