Food

Albi Chef Opens All-Day Georgetown Cafe With Stuffed Pitas and “Not Pizzas”

Michael Rafidi opens a second wood-fired Yellow cafe—soon with evening drinks and mezze.

All-day Levantine cafe Yellow opens in Georgetown with Eastern Mediterranean pastries, stuffed pitas, and pizza. Photograph by Rey Lopez

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Albi chef Michael Rafidi is growing his popular Levantine cafe, Yellow. A cozy 60-seat Georgetown dining room and patio will open on Saturday, December 10 with morning and daytime menus specializing in pastries and stuffed pitas from the Eastern Mediterranean, similar to the Navy Yard original. An all-new evening service will begin next month where diners can match Lebanese and Palestinian wines with mezze, street snacks, and wood-fired flatbreads. 

Yellow Cafe opens in Georgetown.
Albi chef Michael Rafidi is expanding from his Michelin-starred restaurant in Navy Yard. Photograph by Rey Lopez 

In Navy Yard, the cafe draws from Rafidi’s adjoining Michelin-starred restaurant and Eastern Mediterranean cooking traditions. The new Georgetown location claims its own wood-burning oven to turn out fluffy pitas stuffed with seasonal combinations like coal-fired chicken shawarma with crispy potatoes and garlicky labne, or crunchy falafel and smoked feta. Rafidi grew up in Maryland cooking with his Palestinian grandparents, and offers favorite childhood dishes like sfeeha—an open-faced lamb meat pie with garlic toum. 

Yellow Cafe Opens in Georgetown
Creative coffee drinks include draft baklava lattes and Turkish pours. Photograph by Rey Lopez 

Mornings at Yellow Georgetown will bring a variety of creative treats, including honey-halva draft lattes from coffee director Ayat Elhag using Counter Culture beans—plus potent Turkish coffees. Head pastry chef Alicia Wang riffs on classic French viennoiseries with Mediterranean flavors for pastries such as twice-baked baklava croissants, lemon-sumac kouign amann, and seven-spice chocolate cruffins. Early risers can also snag ka’ak—Jerusalem-style bagels coated in sesame—and spice-strewn “Urfa-thing”  bagels. 

Yellow Cafe Opens in Georgetown
“Urfa-thing” and Jerusalem-style bagels from the wood-burning oven. Photograph by Rey Lopez 

Come mid-January, evenings will roll out with “a fun, energetic wine program,” per Rafidi. Think lots of bubbles, natural wines, and interesting finds from sommeliers William Simons (wine director at Albi) and Marcie Cox, formerly of Dio Wine Bar (now closed). Bottles will also be available for retail purchase. Bar vet Alex Bookless is behind a rotating selection of coffee cocktails such as an Arabic coffee negronis and old fashioneds. To match the drinks: a variety of mezze and thin, wood-fired “not pizzas.” 

“We’re calling it ‘not pizza’ because people are going to be ‘this is not really pizza’ so we’re getting ahead of it,” says Rafidi.

The rounds come from the wood-burning oven brushed with garlic, Lebanese olive oil, and za’atar in flavors like a harissa-spiced Margherita with smoked cheese and basil. Rafidi describes the style as similar to Neapolitan, designed with fluffy crusts for dunking in hummus, labneh, and other Levantine dips. 

Yellow Cafe Opens in Georgetown
The 60-seat cafe will open for morning and afternoon, followed by evening hours in January. Photograph by Rey Lopez 

Yellow Georgetown is just the start of an expansion for Rafidi, who plans to open a huge flagship Yellow cafe, test kitchen, and wood-fired kebab spot in a former meatpacking warehouse near Union Market next year. A rooftop bar and bistro, La’ Shukran, will sit above with DJs spinning Middle Eastern music into the evening.

Yellow Georgetown. 1524 Wisconsin Ave., NW.

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.