Editors' pick

Bamian

Afghan
$$$$ ($14 and under)
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Editorial Review

2009 Fall Dining Guide

By Tom Sietsema
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, Oct. 18, 2009

The area's largest Afghan restaurant, in Falls Church, is also one of its most attractive. Chandeliers help. So do the coveted alcove seats, set off by wood walls and etched glass yet still affording a view of the vast 200-seat dining room, where a small stage underscores the restaurant's ability to host weddings and other celebrations. The draw for this customer is the food, hearty and comforting, delivered by waiters who practically become friends by meal's end. "I always tell people when they ask 'What should I get?' to try the mantu," my genial Afghan guide shares. I would hope so; the dumplings filled with ground beef and scallions and topped with yogurt and more meat are deeply satisfying. So, too, is the strapping Bamian platter: three different kebabs arranged with a mound of rice sweetened with carrot strips and raisins. Those kebabs -- chicken rubbed with turmeric, crusty lamb, soft ground beef seasoned with garlic and onion -- are equally succulent, by the way. I'd be just as happy to go without meat here, however, thanks to dishes such as the potato-stuffed pastries (best when dunked in their biting sauce of vinegar and jalapeno), stir-fried eggplant, and sauteed pumpkin tarted up with yogurt and dusted with fresh mint. Easy to fill up on, the warm Afghan flatbread tastes homemade because it is.