100 Very Best Restaurant 2016: Zaytinya


The dining room at Zaytinya restaurant in Washington, DC. Photograph by Chris Campbell.

About Zaytinya


It’s been 14 years since José Andrés opened his Mediterranean mezze house, though you wouldn’t guess it from the crowds that still pack the lofty space. Chef de cuisine Michael Costa keeps palates engaged with the roster of creative Greek, Turkish, and Lebanese dishes. The menu of more than 60 small plates can make for a generous or slightly uneven dining experience, depending on how you order, though real misfires are rare and tables can forgo decision-making altogether and opt for the chef’s tasting ($55 a person). Our à la carte approach: Start with the stellar spreads and breads—try hummus scattered with ground lamb and pickled vegetables—and touch down at least once in each section, feasting on, say, crisp mussels dunked in walnut sauce, juicy kebabs, and local chard stewed with nutty green chickpeas. Peppercorn-scented Zarabanda saison ale, which Andrés helped create, makes a refreshing pairing across the board.

Don’t miss: Baba ghanoush; stuffed eggplant; seared halloumi cheese with pomegranate and mint; oysters saganaki; shrimp with lemon and dill; braised lamb shank over eggplant purée; Greek yogurt with Muscat-soaked apricots and apricot sorbet.

See what other restaurants made our 100 Very Best Restaurants list. This article appears in our February 2016 issue of Washingtonian.

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.