Cheap Eats 2015: Bamian

Where we go to try little bits of a lot of different Afghani plates.

Even a regular Friday night feels like an occasion in this banquet hall of a restaurant done up with glittering chandeliers and plush chairs. And because many plates are offered as both starters and entrées, it’s possible to create a banquet-worthy feast. Eggplant caramelized down to a jam-like consistency is a good place to start, as is the sweet-tart sautéed pumpkin with mint. Follow those with mantu—ravioli-like dumplings filled with ground spiced meat and blanketed in tomato, yogurt, and mint—then add a few rounds of kebabs, whether spicy ground beef or juicy chicken thighs. And could anyone resist a dessert called “elephant ear”? Big, crisp rounds sprinkled with sugar and pistachio are a child’s sweet that’ll win over grownups, too.

Cuisine: Afghan

Where you can get it: 5634 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church; 703-820-7880

Also good: Aushak, a scallion-filled dumpling with yogurt, ground beef, and mint; ground-beef/noodle soup; quabili pilau, a toss of shredded carrots, lamb, sultana raisins, and rice; firnee, a pistachio-cornstarch pudding.

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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 Logan Circle.

Anna Spiegel
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.