We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Great Eastern Market dining” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Ambar

Ambar
523 8th Street SE, Washington DC, DC 20003
202.813.3039
Website
Menu
Improve this listing
Reserve with OpenTable
Ambar is not available for your requested time. Choose another time, or search restaurants with availability.
The time you selected has already passed.
Ranked #22 of 2,564 Restaurants in Washington DC
Certificate of Excellence
Cuisines: Eastern European
Dining options: Drinks, Dinner, Brunch, Breakfast, Private Dining, Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Drinks, Dinner, Brunch, Breakfast, Private Dining, Reservations
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
122 reviews
51 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 67 helpful votes
“Great Eastern Market dining”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 17, 2013

Tried AMBAR which is a nice fusion of Balkan style tapas. The wine list is heavily balkan and the server is helpful in finding one to suit your tastes. Will also give you a few samples which is nice. The plates were delicious though not sure how authentic balkan. We had leek croquettes, a cheese pastry with cucumber sauce that was unbelievable. The calamari was delicate. Really all of the plates we tasted were very good. The decor was nice and for a change, the noise level was subdued so you could hear your conversation. In the spring/summer, looks like a nice outdoor bar.

  • Visited March 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

128 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    74
    42
    9
    2
    1
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Any
English first
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
158 reviews
91 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
“Unique and delicious”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 2, 2013 via mobile

When a friend suggested Balkan food I was skeptical. I had envisioned an evening of cabbage and stewed beef. This restaurant is so much more. The menu is full of surprises and delicious treats from the 11 Balkan countries. (Our friendly and knowledgeable service ably rattled off the Balkan countries.). Served tapas style we shared a number of varied meat and vegetarian dishes. And the stuffed cabbage was one of the best!

    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington, DC
Level Contributor
162 reviews
108 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 77 helpful votes
“Delicious!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 25, 2013

We ate at AMBAR for the first time on a Sunday night in February. The Balkan inspired food was delicious! Servings are small, tapas style. Two items per person are recommended. The food was brought out in a manner that each plate could be tasted on it's own. Relaxed ambiance and service is very good. Servers were friendly and efficient. They offered good recommendations. Desserts are unique and exquisite! Delicious cocktails and an extensive wine list. Wine selection is perhaps a little confusing because many wines are from the Balkan area and not well known here however there is a nice description of each on the wine list. Recommended!

  • Visited February 2013
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bowie, MD
Level Contributor
357 reviews
288 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 165 helpful votes
“Best $10 lunch anywhere in DC”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 18, 2013

Unlike the unkind reviewer from 2/14, I am not a beer drinker. I love great food and love to try new restaurants. Went for lunch and ordered too much food out of curiosity, but it sure was good! Best $10 lunch anyplace in DC (or elsewhere on the planet) is their Kebob. Beef/pork sausage links over roasted red peppers in a cast iron skillet, on a board with: roasted potato wedges, fresh raw white onion, and two mauve cups, one with a great slaw and the other with "aged cheese", a crumbled white cheese sort of like feta. This by itself was filling, balanced, and delightful. Of course, as a former Chicagoan, I had to order the cabbage rolls ($7). Three of them in a skillet, stuffed with ground beef and spices (and veggies?), and they were delicious! Server (owner?) was wonderful... the menu has dairy free and vegetarian options. They also have combo type lunches for about $15 that have 3 things, such as Soup, Salad, Kebab. Well, thank goodness I'm off work today, because I am happy, full and sleepy, and thinking of more cabbage rolls. Their coffee is great too! With a $10 lunch like the Kebab plate, the rest of Barracks Row (are you listening, overpriced and small portioned Belga?) needs to step it up big time. I encouraged the owner to take part in Taste of 8th this year... they will hit it out of the park and introduce lots of people to this great, comfort food cuisine.

  • Visited February 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Northern Virginia
Level Contributor
22 reviews
17 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“Balky Balkan Review”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 14, 2013

A week after a restaurant week group lunch at Ambar and wanting to escape the office and stretch my legs in the sunny 50 degree weather, I set out toward 8th Street with a taste for an Ambar burger and a beer. I sat at the empty bar and immediately noticed what I had missed last week -- no draft beer taps. Not too discouraged, I asked the waitress for the beer menu and discovered that the cheapest bottled beer was $6, and good beers at least $8. Bummer. If I want to pay that kind of money for beer, why would I go any further than Belga Cafe across the street? Ruling out beer led me to opt for the zucchini sandwich instead of the burger. Raising my gaze to the list of wines, I thought, well, a crisp "Balkan" white (granted, that means Greek or Turkish to me, as I hadn't had wines from a true Balkan state before) might go well with the sandwich. But again, I was disappointed by the prices -- the cheapest glass was $8. Since the majority of customers -- even well-traveled, jaded Washingtonians -- aren't likely to be familiar with Balkan wines, why not offer at least one at a reasonable introductory price of $5 or $6?

The zucchini sandwich was tolerable, but with few of the sunflower seeds mentioned on the menu, and not as the flavorful as the moderately spicy Ambar burger. I should have known better than to try the veggie sandwich in February, but my vegetarian friend said it was good last week. The biggest disappointment was the side of potatoes -- the lunch menu says that potato wedges are served with the zucchini sandwich, but instead the plate had what looked like shoestring onions. I like crisp french fries (but again, Belga's are hard to beat and Matchbox's are very good, too, so why not potato wedges?), but these would have been forgettable if they weren't also cold. The waitress brought out some potato wedges, and they were at least hot, but they were fairly large wedges from a Russet potato (where I had in mind some quartered baby Yukon or red potatoes).

From the week before, the only thing I tried besides the Ambar burger that I'd want to have again is the traditional stuffed pickled cabbage rolls. The "wild" mushroom salad was small and tame, and the veal stew was nothing special.

For those curious, as I was, about which Balkan country/cuisine would be featured at Ambar, evidently the proprietor is Serbian -- last week the waiter had proudly informed me that the old wooden tennis racket adorning the wall was intended as a tribute to Novak Djokovic -- though based on what I saw on the menu and read in the Washington Post, the food, while including some traditional dishes, is more a Euro-American fusion intended to appeal to the American palate. I realize Ambar has only been in business for about a month, but judging from my experience, I doubt it will survive on the increasingly competitive Barracks Row.

Updated: I originally rated Ambar 2 circles, but reconsidered after thinking back to my first visit and the tasty Ambar burger I had then.

  • Visited February 2013
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Ambar also viewed

Washington DC, DC
Washington DC, DC
 

Been to Ambar? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

If you own or manage Ambar, register now for free tools to enhance your listing, attract new reviews, and respond to reviewers.