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“The food really IS that good”
Review of Zaytinya

Zaytinya
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Ranked #11 of 3,368 Restaurants in Washington DC
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $31 - $32
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Restaurant details
Good for: Business meetings, Bar scene, Special occasions, Large groups
Dining options: Dinner, Lunch, Late Night, Breakfast, Reservations
Dining style: Casual Elegant
Neighborhood: Downtown / Chinatown
Cross street: G St.
Transit: Gallery Place/Chinatown station. 9 th & G St exit on the red, green and yellow lines.
Description: Zaytinya offers an innovative mezze menu inspired by Turkish, Greek and Lebanese cuisines, under the direction of renowned chef José Andrés, served up in a sleek and modern setting. Shared small plates, creative cocktails and unique Mediterranean wines make this spot one of DC’s top dining destinations.
Reviewed April 28, 2013

As many times as I've eaten at Zaytinya (probably approaching 100), I have never been able to order (or eat) the right amount of food - I always order (and eat) too much. Each time I'm there, I order (and eat) as if it's going to be my last time ever eating at Zaytinya - or eating in general. I can't help myself - there are too many appealing choices, and too much delicious bread and too many delicious desserts that complement the small plates that make up the heart of the menu.

Zaytinya serves small plates that come to your table as they are ready, so the order of dishes you'll receive may feel a bit random. Depending on how hungry you are, 2 to 3 items per person is about right. But you need to also allot stomach space for lots of the puffy, hot pita bread pillows, whose tastiness always defeats my attempts to resist eating too much bread. They come fresh out of the oven straight to the table, so watch out for the super-hot puff of steam that will come out when you rip them open!

My favorite go-to items are the imam bayildi (stuffed eggplant), mini crab cakes (I've learned to order 2 orders of the crab cakes if I'm out with 3 other people or more - the serving is of 3 mini crab cakes, and I like to eat at least 2 of them :)), scallops, stuffed grape leaves, and any grilled fish dish. This past weekend, the grilled salmon and grilled sea bass were both excellent. Their hummus is always reliably tasty and garlicky. (I eat fish/seafood but no meat/poultry, so I won't opine on the meat items.)

Also leave room for dessert. Desserts generally are available in half or full sizes. The Greek-yogurt-with-apricots dish, topped with apricot sorbet and pistachio dust, is my favorite. The Turkish Delight and ice creams/sorbets are also reliable winners. This weekend, the ice cream flavors included a fabulous "baklava vanilla." The ice cream and sorbet servings are very generous for one person - 3 good-sized scoops - so I'd advise sharing unless you are VERY hungry for ice cream or sorbet, which you might not be after having indulged in multiple small plates!

My five-star rating for Zaytinya is based on the food - the service is not terrible, but there are some consistent shortcomings in the atmosphere and service to be aware of. The space is gorgeous and dramatic-looking - white banquettes, high ceilings, floor-to-ceiling glass. But all those hard surfaces mean that this place is LOUD. I prefer to go during weekends at lunchtime, when it tends to be less crowded and thus less noisy. The service also tends to be a weird mix of hurried and slow. The front desk is always friendly and welcoming, and so, generally, are the servers. But during the same meal, your server might be hovering overattentively one minute, and the next, they've gone off somewhere and you can't find them for a long time. Sometimes the service is just slow overall. Sometimes there is a long lag time between dishes. And sometimes the service and pacing are pitch-perfect. It's hard to predict.

Overall, this is one of my absolute favorite restaurants in DC (and where I chose to celebrate my birthday this weekend). The food is consistently fantastic.

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Thank thegreatlizby
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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2,456 - 2,460 of 3,783 reviews

Reviewed April 28, 2013

This place is excellent: it is consistently good, creative food, great service, and fun. The place is hip and trendy, but the prices are very reasonable. This was my third trip to the restaurant, each two years apart, and it is even better than before. The only drawback is that it is has become a little too popular. My top choice in DC!

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
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    • Food
Thank QueenStreetLaw
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 28, 2013

Haven't been to D.C. in ages, but would come back for this food. A 9:15 pm reservation on a very busy Saturday evening was honored within five or so minutes of our arrival, a good start, and it only got better. Informal, modern (but not overly bright), lots of buzz. It's is big, busy & noisy, so it could be difficult to hear one another, depending on where you are sitting -- that is our only caveat.

These cultures, Greek, Lebanese and Turkish, have such fabulous cuisine and this restaurant is a treat. The ability to have lots of little plates makes it easy to share and that's expected. The friend who brought us here said the crispy brussel sprouts were a must -- and they are! Among others plates we liked: Bantijan Bil Laban (crispy eggplant, roasted garlic-yogurt sauce); and
Arayes (grilled ground lamb and tahini stuffed pita, garlic-yogurt). Lots of good stuff; experiment!

Service was excellent and timely, given that this is a big, busy, busy place, still humming when we left at 11:15 pm. Excellent courteous waiter, who recommended a very nice Lebanese red wine, not cheap ($40), but a good value.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
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    • Food
Thank MCSCarmel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 27, 2013

The food is good. The pita bread is light and fluffy. The servings are small and pricey. Dined there alone, no beverage, no dessert, vegetarian dinner of three small plates - $35. Phew!

The brussels sprouts were yummy but a bit greasy. The stuffed eggplant was very good with complex flavors, maybe also a bit greasy. The okra and chick peas were not so interesting - you could skip this one. Worth the visit, but no need to return.

Thank elbowelbein
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 26, 2013

I went with a group of 4 so we all ordered the lunch special, its a 3 course meal with dessert and we all ordered something different and shared. There was plenty of food, the battered eggplant was amazing, I'll stay away from the baba ghanoush next time.

Thank Christina_V_G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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