100 Very Best Restaurants 2015: No. 69 Saba

Photographs by Scott Suchman.

We know you’ve probably eaten a lot of rice in your lifetime. But we daresay you’ve never had rice like the rice at this Yemeni hole in the wall. Rice this rich, this aromatic, this perfectly cooked. Rice so good you swear you need eat nothing more.

Chef/owner Tahia Alhoraivi makes five kinds daily, none more wonderful than the rice that goes into the dish called haneeth; though nominally a lamb dish (and the meat is delicious), it’s the grains that make it—each is distinct, and you can taste the flavors of the lamb in every bite. Alhoraivi bakes bread daily, too, just for his masoob, a glorious sweet-and-savory bread pudding. Don’t skip it.

The cooking of Yemen can look, at times, like the cooking of Lebanon, Egypt, or Morocco. The emphasis is on developing flavors slowly, and the spice box is liberally, exuberantly employed. In Alhoraivi’s hands, it won’t matter that you’re new to the cuisine. It’ll taste like comfort food all the same.

Don’t miss:

  • Shafout (injera in cilantro-mint yogurt)
  • Fahsa (a beef stew)
  • Lentil soup
  • Basboussa (semolina cake soaked in syrup)

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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.

Anna Spiegel
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.