Cheap Eats 2015: Athena Pallas

Where we get our stuffed eggplant.

At their Crystal City dining room, Michael Kosmides and Kallia Sambrakos have recreated the kind of small, family-run restaurant found all over Greece. With a little urging, Kosmides will share his take on what makes an exceptional imam bayildi, the stuffed-eggplant dish. His secret? Copious olive oil and oven time, which result in eggplant that melts on the tongue. Octopus, fragrant with lemon and oregano and bearing a light char from the grill, shows a similar attention to detail and technique. You can make a meal of mezze and anise-scented ouzo, the Greek drink of choice with these small plates, or move on to more substantial repasts such as fork-tender lamb shank, whole fish with lemon and olive oil, or moussaka with the airiest of béchamels. When it comes to dessert, the creamy house-made yogurt with honey and walnuts is typically Greek, but the crisp walnut-and-almond baklava is hard to pass up. And if the just-baked galatoboureko—a cream-filled phyllo—is an option, you might just have to get that, too.

Cuisine: Greek

Where you can find it: 556 22nd St. S., Arlington; 703-521-3870

Also good: Spanakopita; spicy feta with hot roasted peppers; warm stuffed grape leaves with an egg-lemon sauce.

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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.