If you're not sure you've ever given moussaka and spanakopita a serious taste test, maybe it's time to reeducate your palate with Greek or Middle Eastern specialties from area restaurants. Listed below is a sampling in Maryland.
AE (American Express), DC (Diners Club), CB (Carte Blanche), MC (MasterCard), V (Visa), C (Choice). "Free parking" indicates a parking lot. "Full bar" indicates a license to sell spirits, beer and wine. "Children" indicates the availability of children's portions at reduced prices.
Ambrosia Restaurant, 1765 Rockville Pike, Rockville. Tel.: 881-3636. Hours: Mon.-Sat.7 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. Closed Sun. Cards: None. Cash, personal or travelers checks only. Free parking. Wine and beer only. Children. Entree price range: $1.45 to $7.95. Specialties: lamb shish kebab, moussaka, gyros (sliced lamb cooked on a vertical spit and tucked inside pita bread), souvlaki (marinated lamb cut up and grilled on skewers), and a nightly lamb special.
Diplomat Restaurant, 7345 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda. Tel.: 657-3058. Hours: Mon.-Thurs. 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Fri. 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., Sat. 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Closed Sun. Cards: AE, DC, CB, MC, V, C. Free parking (evenings), otherwise street parking. Full bar. Children. Entree price range: $3.50 to $11.95. Specialties: moussaka (spiced eggplant baked with ground meat, with tomato and topped with layers of custard and cheese), lamb shish kebab, veal, seafood.
Kabul West, 4871 Cordell Ave., Bethesda. Tel.: 986-8566. Hours: Mon.-Thurs. 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., Fri. 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., Sat. 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., Sun. 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Cards: MC, V. Street and commercial parking. Wine and beer only. Entree price range: $4.95 to $12.95. Specialties: lamb kebab served with rice, sadsi chalaus (lamb spinach, and garlic and onions served on rice), and goush-eseel (plate-sized pastry of fried dough dusted with sugar and ground pistachio nuts.) All entrees served with Afghan bread and salad.
King Tut, 3500 Perry St., Mount Rainier. Tel.: 779-9132. Hours: Mon.-Sun. 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Cards: None. Cash, personal or travelers checks only. Free parking. No bar. Children. Entree price range: $3 to $6. Specialties: spicy Middle Eastern-style beef and pork, spanakopita (spinach pie, with eggs and feta cheese and served with yogurt and seasoned rice).
Marathon Deli, 4429 Lehigh Rd. (across from the University of Maryland), College Park. Tel.: 927-6717. Hours: Mon.-Sun. 10 a.m. to midnight. Cards: None. Cash and travelers checks only. Metered parking (free on Sun.). No bar. Children. Entree price range: $2.75 to $4.05. Specialties: gyros, souvlaki, Greek salads, moussaka, pastitsio (layered baked macaroni and meat topped with a thick cheese sauce) and baklava.
Omar Khayyam Restaurant, 4550 Montgomery Ave., Bethesda. Tel.: 654-8886. Hours: Mon.-Sat. 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Closed Sun. Cards: AE, DC, MC, V. Validated underground parking. Full bar. Entree price range: $5 to $9. Specialties: Iranian cuisine such as fesenjan (walnut and pomegranate sauce with chicken over rice) and jujehkabab (charbroiled chicken breast marinated in yogurt, garlic and lemon).