Editors' pick

Kabob Palace

Fast Food, Halal, Middle Eastern
$$$$ ($14 and under)
Kabob Palace photo
Juana Arias/The Washington Post
Eat skewers of succulent meat.
24-hours
(Crystal City/Pentagon City)
Crystal City (Blue and Yellow lines)
703-486-3535
'

Editorial Review

Note: This restaurant has some kosher-style dishes.

Show me a taste of home, I once challenged a Washington cabdriver. Without hesitation, he steered me to this personable eatery and carryout, where he and his fellow drivers, people of many stripes, assembled for skewers of meat washed back with conversation. Chunks of marinated lamb, chicken and ground beef line a glass display, awaiting a turn on the grill. The food comes out so fast, the kids won't have time to melt down. And each option is succulent. Lamb is juicy. Chicken, reverberating with garlic, turmeric and red chilies, leaves the flames lightly crusty yet moist. And the ground sirloin is seasoned with fresh cilantro -- which you can accent further with onions or a spritz of lemon from the counter. The kebabs turn into small feasts when you order them as combination plates, replete with warm-from-the-clay-oven pita bread, basmati rice, a small lettuce salad and a choice of vegetables (the zesty yellow lentils are particularly good). Neighbors and others drop by to take food home, but I'm content to stay put. Sure, the mirrored room is too bright, but the Afghan owner has made the most of the modest space, slipping colorful fabric beneath glass on the tables and hanging fringed curtains to set off an alcove. A folksy Middle Eastern market scene dominates one wall; the mural seems animated by the air, perfumed with cumin, onion and distant languages.
-- Tom Sietsema