Ambar Brings Bottomless Balkan Drinking and Dining to Shaw

Ivan Iricanin's third DC-area Ambar is all you can eat and drink, all the time.

Ambar's second floor bar becomes an open air spot in nice weather. Photograph by Rey Lopez

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At most restaurants, bottomless is a brunch thing. But Ambar restaurateur Ivan Iricanin views limitless food and drinks as an anytime affair. The All-You-Can-Eat King opens his third DC-area Balkan restaurant in Shaw tonight with options for free-flowing drinks ($28 per person) and endless food ($50 per person), with similar lunch and brunch menus to start soon. Also on tap: late-night street-style eats from Iricanin’s native Belgrade.

The two-story, 161-seat restaurant and bar is similar to its siblings in Capitol Hill and Clarendon. (Iricanin also operates all-you-can-eat Mexican concept Buena Vida in Arlington, among others.) The vision for Shaw is a little more industrial-chic and drink-focused, with a big bar on the second floor, a DJ booth for weekend entertainment, and a rooftop that retracts in nice weather. In addition to unlimited selections of wine, beer, and cocktails, guests can order a la carte drinks such as a fruity Orchard Punch with apple and apricot rakia (a fruit brandy popular in the Balkans), margaritas, and espresso martinis.

Drinkers can opt for unlimited cocktails or a la carte drinks. Photograph courtesy of Ambar.

Menus take a regional tour through the Balkan Peninsula, with slow-cooked plates from northern Serbia, wood-grilled items popular in the south, and seafood dishes that draw from the Mediterranean coast of Montenegro and Croatia. Guests sit down to a traditional welcome of spreads, charcuterie, pickles, and warm bread, and can order whatever they desire within the two hour window—soups, salads, vegetarian dishes like Croatian-style gnocchi with creamy mushrooms, savory meat and cheese pies, “chef delicacies” like steak tartare, and wood-grilled meats and seafood. 

Unlimited lunch ($28 per person) and weekend brunch ($35 for AYCE food and $13 for bottomless drinks) start in the coming weeks. Limitless dinner cuts off at 11:30 PM, but hungry bar hoppers can still snag Belgrade-style fare like kebabs, Balkan burgers stuffed with cheese and smoked ham, and street meats such as bacon-wrapped chicken until last call (generally 1 AM and later). A takeout window will open soon for grab-and-go meals as well as late night. 

Iricanin isn’t just celebrating a new restaurant—he’s also marking a decade at the first Ambar on Capitol Hill. In addition to specials, the restaurant has planned a “Trip to Serbia” giveaway for one lucky customer that includes the flight to Belgrade, hotel, meals at Ambar there, and a tour of Balkan wine country (details here). 

“The idea is to connect Serbia and the US, and introduce more Ambar fans to Belgrade,” says Iricanin. “We serve close to 2,000 people a week—we’re that value component brand—so we have a lot of loyal fans.”

Ambar Shaw. 1547 Seventh St., NW.

Check out the opening dinner 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.