Cheap Eats 2015: Banana Leaf

Where we can get a flavorful meal in a banana leaf.

About Banana Leaf

Sri Lankan

Every time we stop in, we wonder: Where are the crowds? The lack of a liquor license (supposedly on the way) may be a turnoff, but the cooking—sometimes spicy, sometimes pungent, always complex—is strong enough to overcome that minor blip. (Plus you can always bring your own beer or wine.) Don’t miss the black-pork curry, which gets its deep color and flavor from goraka, a fruit dried in smoke and ground into a paste. Or the lampri, a meal in a banana leaf that unfolds to reveal caramelized onions, cashew curry, plantains, a fried fish ball, hard-cooked egg, and—that’s not all—a choice of protein (chicken, lamb, and pork are all fabulous). Get a bit of everything on your fork to experience full-on the layers of flavor.

Cuisine: Sri Lankan

Where you can find it: 5014 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-506-7554

Also good: Hoppers, cup-shaped rice-flour pancakes with fried egg and katta sambol, a spicy chili paste; chopped roti stir-fried with eggs and a choice of meat or vegetables; deviled lamb or chicken with chilies, onions, peppers, and tomato; string hoppers, fine strands of rice noodles with coconut-onion gravy.

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.

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.