DC Day 2: Dinner at Zaytinya

On my second night in D.C., Kandace and I met up with our friend Carly who I hadn’t seen in over two years. It just so happened that my visit coincided with Carly moving to the D.C. area from Cincinnati. When I say “coincided”, I really mean it. You see, the day before, as my plane was landing, Carly’s moving van was pulling into town! So in the midst of unpacking boxes and painting her new home, she took a break and we all got to spend a relaxing evening catching up.

That alone made for a perfectly enjoyable dinner, but the food at Zaytinya was what created an experience none of us will soon forget.


The Htipiti at Zaytinya
roasted red peppers, feta, thyme

Zaytinya’s Greek, Lebanese and Turkish cuisine is authentic, but at the same time creative and original. Made up of Mezze, small plates, the menu items are meant to be shared. This is my favorite type of dining, because I really hate being stuck eating just a couple of dishes. It’s much more fun to sample a wide variety of flavors and textures, don’t ya think?

With a little help from our server, we chose a series of different mezze from most sections of the menu. First up, three spreads:  hummus, baba ganoush, and the Htipiti, all served alongside a basket of fresh, house made pita bread.  Judging by the completely clean bowl where the Htipiti once was, I’d say we deemed it the best of the bunch.

imported warm giant beans with kale, oven-roasted tomato, and garlic

From the Vegetable Mezze section of the menu, we chose Kolokithokeftedes (don’t worry, none of us could pronounce it either) and the Piyaz.

While the zucchini and cheese patties (that’s what the K word means) were good, they were overshadowed by the amazing bean dish. Kandace and I were still discussing this the next day, deconstructing and strategizing on how exactly to recreate it on our own at home. Guess what Kandace?  I think someone else has already come pretty close to figuring it out for us!


Garides Me Anitho
sautéed shrimp with dill, shallots, mustard, and lemon juice

Moving on to the Seafood Mezzo, the Garides Me Anitho and Seared Salmon. This should give you a clue as to how I felt about the shrimp… today I went out and bought a dill plant.

After that giant bean dish and this shrimp, I’ve become a fan of dill. And I’ve already found the recipe, so I might just be making this over the weekend!

Seared Salmon with braised wild mushrooms, butternut squash puree, pomegranate molasses


After the seafood, we moved on to meat and poultry dishes, one of which was the Kotopoulo Youvetsi, a chicken, orzo, tomato, and kefalograviera cheese dish. It was nice, but didn’t exactly blow me away. However, the lamb did.

Knisa Lamb Chops
grilled lamb chops, smoked yogurt, pomegranate berries

Grilled to perfection, and smartly paired with a cool, creamy smoked yogurt and sweet pomegranate berries, I slowly savored every bite. Oh how I hope that one day I’ll be able to prepare lamb this beautifully.

The Turkish Delight at Zatinya

Unlike the night before when we ended the meal feeling like our stomachs were stretched to the limit, this meal had been just the right amount of food for the three of us. We were feeling good and decided to just order coffees and teas to cap off the evening. That thought was gone within two seconds of looking at the dessert menu.

The Turkish Delight, made up of walnut ice cream, yogurt mousse, honey gelee’, orange caramel sauce, and caramelized pine nuts was a sweet ending to a very sweet night with good friends.


701 9th Street Northwest
Washington D.C., DC 20001
(202) 638-0800


Interested in D.C. restaurants? Be sure to check out this post too!