Mediterranean cuisine can vary as it consists of the 21 countries that surround the Mediterranean Sea, including Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon and France. An international city in and of itself, D.C. is home to embassies galore. It’s no wonder you can find some of the best Mediterranean cuisine in the country right here in town. If you don’t know where to start, these are the best of the best.
3105 14th St. Northwest
Washington, DC 20016
Cava Grill is the Greek equivalent of Chipotle. You start with a pita, bowl, mini pitas or salad, but that is where the similarities end. CAVA Grill has so many choices for sauce, meats and toppings that it then blows Chipotle out of the water. The fillings are Greek spiced chicken, grilled meatballs, lamb with lemon, beef braised with tomato and onions, lamb ground with harrissa and onions, and falafel for vegetarians. Sauces include tzatiki, eggplant, harissa, hummus and red pepper, feta and roasted red pepper hummus. Add on your toppings, which are tomato and onion salad, tomato and cucumber salad, feta, lettuce, kalamata olives, cabbage salad, diced cucumbers, fresh mint, basmati rice, lemon wedge and pickled onions. For lighter fare, get its dips with pita chips and a seasonal soup.
617 New York Ave. Northwest
Washington, DC 20001
Marrakesh Restaurant is an occasion in and of itself. It’s a seven-course, prix fixe menu you eat with your hands while enjoying the belly dancers. The décor is enchanting with its Moroccan design. As you enter, you’ll wash your hands before eating, because everything you’ll be eating is meant to be eaten with your hands. You’ll start with three Moroccan salads followed by a b’stella, which is a layered pie with chicken, parsley, eggs, assorted nuts, almonds and onions topped with cinnamon and confectioner sugar. The next course is a roasted chicken with lemon and olives. Then the main is choice of berber beef kebab or tajine of lamb with almonds and honey. The fifth course is couscous followed by a basket of fresh fruit and hot mint tea service with Moroccan pastries. Be sure to bring enough cash, as it doesn’t take credit cards. There’s an ATM inside if you forget.
3321 Connecticut Ave. Northwest
Washington, DC 20008
Lavandou in Cleveland Park focuses on the cuisine of the Provence region of France. Provencal cuisine prides itself on using the fresh ingredients that group in abundance in that region of the French Riviera. It’s common to find plenty of seafood, tomatoes and fresh herbs cooked in a rustic method. Of notability on Lavandou’s menu are the mussels, or les moules. They are served with a side of fries, called pommes frites with a choice of the mariniere (shallot and herbs), provencale (pastis, tomato and basil), or gruyere et romarin (rosemary, swiss cheese and light cream).
Related: Best French Cuisine in the D.C. area
7141 Arlington Road
Bethesda, MD 20814
Lebanese Taverna boasts some of the best Lebanese cuisine around. With convenient locations around the D.C. area, find your favorites from Rockville to Pentagon City. It features mezzas, or small plates, soups, salads, vegetarian plates, flat breads, sandwiches and main course platters. It also offers a hummus bar that allows you to try one of each of its hummus options: traditional with ground beef and lamb, spicy hummus with tomatoes and feta cheese, or garlic hummus with chicken shawarma. You may also create your own with toppings. Then there’s the matter of choosing how you want to eat your hummus. Dippers include French fries, rice crackers, assorted veggies or pita chips. Another must try is its kibbeh, which is a fried meatball mixed with ground beef and lamb, burghul, almonds, pine nuts and yogurt.
701 9th St. Northwest
Washington, DC 20001
Zaytinya is a culmination of Turkish, Greek and Lebanese cuisines that celebrates fresh ingredients and bold flavors. The brainchild of one of D.C.’s most celebrated chefs, José Andrés, Zaytinya offers mezze style dishes, which are smaller appetizer-sized dishes that allow the table to share the experience. The pita bread is made fresh, so order some humus or baba ghannouge to go with it. One dish that really stands out is the garides ne anitho: sautéed shrimp, dill, shallots, mustard and lemon juice. Another fantastic dish is the octopus santorini, which is grilled and then served with marinated onions, capers and a yellow split-pea puree.