Hours: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 4 a.m., Friday and Saturday; noon to 2 a.m., Sunday.
Atmosphere: Lunchroom plain.
Price range: Appetizers from $1.65 to $3.10; dinners from $3 for spaghetti to $5.85 for an Afghan beef dish; pizzas from $2.60 to $8.15.
Reservations: Not necessary.
Credit cards: Carte Blanche, Diner's Club, MasterCard, Visa.
Special facilities: Booster seats; parking lot; carryout; not accessible to the handicapped.
Abdula's is a bit of a surprise. It calls itself a pizza house, but offers a lot more. As well as listing pizza and other Italian foods, the menu also offers food from Afghanistan, Greece and the United States. It's a good spot for families whose members have differing tastes.
The biggest plus, however, is the price. Most dinners are in the $3 to $4 range; the most expensive is an Afghan beef dish ($5.85). A family of four can have the works here and get back change from a $20 bill.
Abdula's is located across from Sears in Arlington, near the Clarendon Metro stop. The decor is no frills: bare Formica tables, napkins in metal holders and chairs that have seen better days. Some effort has been made to spruce up the place, though, with hanging plants and a nice window box of blooming flowers.
The pizza is not the best bet, however, unless you like it with a soggy crust. It's a shame, really, because the dough is homemade and tasty and the tomato and cheese are in the right proportions.
Instead, order one of several Afghanistan specials. We sampled kebab lamb ($5.15), which came with a small salad and the distinctive flat Afghan bread. The grilled chunks of lamb had been marinated in a yogurt-garlic-lemon mixture. Highly seasoned and tender, they were served with cherry tomatoes over spicy rice topped with a tomato-based sauce.
The accompanying salad was an uninspired iceberg lettuce with tomatoes and onions in a rather nice vinegary dressing.
We also tried a pasta dish. Passing over spaghetti and lasagna, we asked for rigatoni, which was listed on the menu as a luncheon special. It was available that evening, and turned out to be well-cooked (rather than al dente) tubes of pasta covered with a thin tomato sauce. The meatballs with it were small but dense, and tasted like a combination of ground pork and beef. With the rigatoni came a bonus: delicious garlic bread, fresh and buttery.
There is one child's selection on the menu, spaghetti at $1.75. Our 9-year-old instead chose a hamburger ($1.10) and french fries (65 cents). The burger, on a plain roll with lettuce and tomato, was average, but the french fries were outstanding. Thick and hot, they were piled into a basket, an amount generous enough for everyone in the family to sample.
For dessert we ordered an Afghan pastry, gosh-e-feel ($1.50). This fried dough was shaped, as the menu described it, "like an elephant's ear." It was the size of a large plate, very thin and light and dusted with cardamom, ground pistachios and confectioner's sugar. We ate it communally, by breaking off pieces. Other desserts available were baklava (95 cents) and cheesecake ($1.30).
The bill for our family, with a couple of grandparents in tow, came to $30.83, including tax and tip.