Eastern Mediterranean Restaurant Namak Replaces Mintwood Place in Adams Morgan

The menu of salads, mezze, kebabs, and more draws from Turkey, Greece, and Iran.

Namak's beet and yogurt dip. Photograph by Scott Suchman .

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Namak. 1813 Columbia Road, NW.

Restaurateur Saied Azali, owner of Japanese restaurant Perry’s in Adams Morgan, has long wanted to open a place focused on the cuisine around his native Iran. So when he closed 10-year-old Mintwood Place in 2022, he spent a long time looking for the right chef for a new concept in the space. Through a headhunter, he found Turkish chef Tolgahan Gulyiyen, an alum of Greek spots Zaytinya in Penn Quarter and Nostos in Vienna. Though the two came from different countries, they had grown up with many similar dishes.

Now, Azali and his Mintwood Place business partner John Cidre will open an Eastern Mediterranean called Namak that draws from Turkish, Persian, and Greek cuisines. “We’re not reinventing the wheel. We are just going to do good food. That’s the most important thing,” Azali says. Limited walk-ins will be available on Tuesday, April 2 with reservations starting April 9.

Zeytoon Parvardeh, a Persian salad of olives, pomegranate, walnut, and chard. Photograph by Scott Suchman .

The menu starts with a series of dips, including smoked eggplant and yogurt, beet-yogurt, and whipped goat cheese. Salads span from Turkish-style bulgur with herbs and lemon to an Iranian-inspired mix of olives, pomegranate, walnuts, and chard.

Vegan stuffed cabbage with rice and lentils. Photograph by Scott Suchman .

Both Gulyiyen and Azali shared childhood memories of shredded zucchini fritters; Namak’s version is dressed with yogurt, garlic confit, olive oil, and lemon. They both also had nostalgia for their moms’ stuffed cabbage—here served vegan-friendly with rice and lentils.  Other mezze include a sesame-crusted fried feta with honey and grilled octopus with carrot puree.

Namak’s braised lamb shank with smoke eggplant puree, chickpeas, and beans. Photograph by Scott Suchman .

The menu also features a variety of kebabs; Azali says they were very particular about their lamb, attempting to source something similar to the fattier meat found throughout the eastern Mediterranean. “We actually bought so many different lambs from so many different places to test the lamb to see which one is better,” Azali says. A braised lamb shank with smoked eggplant, chickpeas, and beans is among the larger mains, along with a pan-seared whole dorade and Greek-style roasted half chicken.

A harissa mezcal margarita with tajin rim. Photograph by Scott Suchman .

Many of the ingredients in the food also end up in the cocktails—like a harissa margarita or a “Saz Arak” with toasted sesame, date syrup, and anise-flavored arak. You’ll also find shots of raki from Turkey and ouzo from Greece, in addition to a small selection of wines and beers from the eastern Mediterranean.

The dining room that was once Mintwood Place looks drastically different with a brighter design—and much more sound-proofing. “The place is very happy looking,” says Azali, noting arches meant to evoke the architecture from that part of the world. The seating in the middle of the dining room has been replaced by a long cream banquette with oak tables, spice and pickle jars line the shelves, and handmade tiles and rugs from Turkey decorate the walls.

Azali says he wanted to give the restaurant a Persian name, and landed on Namak meaning “salt” in Farsi. “Salt is very important food, but at the same time, many years ago, when you gave salt to people, it meant hospitality,” Azali says. “It was a very precious thing.”

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.