The Washington Post

You don’t have to be a World Cup fan to eat world-class food

For those with worldly tastes but little interest in rowdy sports crowds, here are some international restaurants that serve cuisine from participating countries in a TV-free environment.

Brazil: Lia Cafe 

You’ll find mostly quick Brazilian bites at this Mount Pleasant newcomer, like pastel (meat sealed in dough and deep-fried), slices of empadao (a savory pie made with fish or chicken) and kibe (deep-fried ground beef and bulgar wheat). But the charming patio, situated on a busy corner of the neighborhood, encourages you to stay awhile.

Lia Cafe, 3103 Mount Pleasant St. NW; 202-328-0052, (Columbia Heights)

Belgium: Et Voila! 

Part French, part Belgian, mostly butter, Et Voila’s menu is steered by Claudio Pirollo, the former personal chef to the Irish Ambassador. Golden French fries and well-seasoned mussels lure people to the Siberia of D.C. (the Palisades), while savory crepes and baked snails keep them coming back. Though it’s always packed, the 48-seat dining room is filled with the hum of pleasant conversation rather than sports chants.

Et Voila!, 5120 MacArthur Blvd. NW; 202-237- 2300,

Greek: Zaytinya 

As chef Jose Andres’ love letter to Mediterranean mezze, Zaytinya features a selection of traditional Turkish, Lebanese and mostly Greek small plates. Dishes range from simple hommus to spiced veal sweetbreads flavored with cumin and sumac. The restaurant is spacious, well-lit and designed with soothing colors like Santorini-inspired blue.

Zaytinya, 701 Ninth St. NW; 202-638-0800, (Gallery Place)

Mexican: Tacos El Chilango 

Juan Antonio, the owner of Tacos el Chilango, dips into the family recipe book for dishes like his al pastor taco: pork shoulder marinated in a homemade adobo sauce, onions and pineapple juice and then cooked over a low heat to re-create the rotating trompo grills popular throughout Mexico. The 15-seat restaurant is a tight squeeze, but it beats trying to cram into a food truck, which is where Antonio got his start.

Tacos El Chilango, 1119 V St. NW; 202-986-3030, (U Street)

Korean: Yechon 

This 24/7 Korean BBQ joint hits high notes with galbijim (beef short ribs) and bibimbap (of which it offers six varieties). Lines are usually out the door, so bring some reading material. We suggest anything but Sports Illustrated.

Yechon, 4121 Hummer Road, Annondale; 703-914-4646.

More on the World CupTake the 2014 World Cup Quiz | Things to say to make it sound like you know something about soccer | Four things that have to happen for the U.S. to get out of the Group of Death  |  What your beer says about your World Cup tastes

Holley Simmons is the dining editor of Express. When she’s not reporting on local restaurants and tastemakers, you can find her sewing a dress from a 1950s pattern or planting a windowsill herb garden. Contact her at

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