Food

Popular Palestinian Pop-Up Shababi Chicken Is Moving to H Street

Chef Marcelle Afram offers dine-in meals for the first time at a residency with Please Bring Chips.

Shababi Chicken goes dine-in for the first time during a five-week pop-up. Photograph by Farrah Skeiky

Former Maydan chef Marcelle Afram launched their popular Palestinian pop-up during the pandemic, turning out West Bank-style chicken dinners out of an Alexandria ghost kitchen. These days, Shababi Chicken is a moveable feast, where Afram—a first generation Palestinian-American—explores their heritage and the Palestinian diaspora through pop-ups and neighborhood deliveries. 

Now, for the first time, Shababi will have its place at a physical table thanks to a five-week residency at event/community space 1320 by Please Bring Chips on H Street, Northeast. The dine-in series launches on Thursday, January 26 and runs through Saturday, February 25. 

“One of the biggest feedbacks we got when we did takeout was ‘We can’t wait to have this at a table’,” says Afram. “The cuisine itself is so conducive to that.”

Chef Marcelle Afram of Shababi Chicken. Photograph courtesy of Shababi
Chef Marcelle Afram of Shababi Chicken. Photograph courtesy of Shababi

The ticketed dinner ($125 per person) is a family-style feast that starts with snacks like homemade pickles, cucumbers tossed with Aleppo-chili crisp, and dips. Afram says they were inspired by Gaza—and the area’s history of seafood dishes, before fishing restrictions were put in place—for plates like prawns rubbed with chili paste and dried apricots, set over Palestinian-style rice that’s heavy on citrus and dill. The main event, the Shababi chicken, is a 24-hour brined bird that’s rubbed in a mix of allspice, sumac, cumin, fenugreek, and cardamom to mimic Palestine’s national dish, musakhan. It’s served with za’atar fries, salads, sauces, and caramelized onion flatbread. Diners can add a la carte specials such as hummus with pulled and smoked lamb; additional sides and breads; and alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage pairings ($65 and $24, respectively). 

In addition to the ticketed dinner, Afram says they’re planning a Valentine’s Day feast, Super Bowl takeout specials, and a pop-up where customers can grab arayes (stuffed pitas) to-go. 

This will be the second chef residency for Please Bring Chips, a catering/events company that created a space to host collaborations with rising star chefs, bartenders, and other industry pros. Next up will be a series with Amparo Fondita chef and Muchas Gracias founder Christian Irabien. As for Afram, they’re still on the search for the right permanent location.

“It’s just such a precious concept to me that I’m not trying to rush it,” says Afram, who’s enjoyed sharing Shababi with diners outside a traditional dining room. “It feels like a mutual adventure.”

Shababi Residency at Please Bring Chips. 1320 H St., NE. Tickets are available here

Take a look at the opening menu:

 

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.