Festive no longer automatically means French in Washington. And one of the most delectable as well as ebullient of the city's restaurants is Bacchus, which is Lebanese. This downstairs pair of dining rooms has been renovated into a clean-cut collection of white, wood and archways. The color is added by the food, which is as flamboyant in its flavors and rustically attractive in its service. Dinner should concentrate on mezze -- appetizers, two pages of them -- and should include the hummos special, this lightest of chickpea pur,ees topped with chopped meat and nuts. The homemade sausages come in two varieties, one for fire-eaters. And there are wonderful stuffed grape leaves and cheese-stuffed fried turnovers. My only quarrel is with the salads, which can be puckeringly tart, and the lentils -- the single dull dish I have tried.

Despite the temptation of the appetizers, don't miss the main dishes, particularly the kebabs, which are crusty, zesty and juicy. You will probably want to try both chicken and lamb, so fortunately they can be ordered in combination. The stewed chicken or lamb bedded on grilled pita and sauced with yogurt and pomegranate seeds is also intriguing. All these plus an enthusiastic dining room staff add up to a restaurant of enormous good nature. 1827 Jefferson Pl. NW. 785- 0734. L $5.50-$9, D $9.25-$11.25. L daily ex Sat, D daily. Closed Sun. AE, MC, V. Res sugg. Full bar.