Talented cook Reem Azoury was born and raised in Lebanon, attended boarding school in England and often vacationed in countries across Europe. The foods she learned to love along the way are offered at Figs, a stylish cafe and carryout that opened last month in the Palisades neighborhood. Figs is a fine place to grab a quick, on-the-run sandwich, soup and a good cup of coffee. It's also a terrific place to put together an instant party menu of Middle Eastern salads and dips.
Not to be missed is the smoky-flavored and creamy-textured Persian eggplant dip, topped with fresh pomegranate seeds ($6.99 per pound). Preserved baby eggplants ($3.99 per pound) are filled with crushed walnuts and pickled sweet red pepper. There's a very pleasing hummus ($5.99 per pound), plain or with a touch of fresh basil, a nice touch for holiday entertaining. And anyone tired of typical tabbouleh will find the Figs version ($6.99 per pound), made almost exclusively of finely chopped parsley, to be exceptional.
Both the lentil/orzo/Swiss chard soup and portobello mushroom/barley soup ($3.50 for 12 ounces) are hearty and warming on a cold, blustery day. Pair the soup with the most popular sandwich on the menu: the Fig's Special ($5.25) -- an open-faced composition of brie, sliced pear and walnut halves atop Afghan-style barbari bread spread with Tuscan-style fig jam.
Dinner specials change daily. (It's best to call ahead for availability.) For example, one night Figs may offer a turkey shepherd's pie with lots of vegetables ($8.99 per pound) and another a chicken tagine with preserved lemons and couscous ($12.99 per serving).
Figs, 4828 MacArthur Blvd., NW; 202-333-7773. Open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Closed Sunday.
-- Walter Nicholls