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.
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.