The following review appears in The Washington Post’s 2016 Fall Dining Guide.
Restaurants trying to be all things to all appetites generally don’t succeed; it’s tough to do a lot well. Zaytinya, the soaring Middle Eastern small plates dispenser with a mesmerizing wall of water in the entry, is a mouthwatering exception, never mind the clamor at peak hours. This is a kitchen that does vegetables proud, evinced by Swiss chard, crisp hazelnuts, sweet onions and fleshy mushrooms tossed with warm spices. Fish is fine, too, judging by moist blue catfish propped on garlicky crushed potatoes with capers and almond slivers. Meat? Consider tender sweetbreads presented with sliced zucchini on a swab of tart mushroom labneh (strained yogurt). The menu in the blue-and-white expanse runs to dozens of dishes; if you can’t find something, you’re too darn picky. The wine list takes you on a tour of Greece, Israel, Lebanon and Turkey, but you don’t have to imbibe to have your horizons expanded. The cooling cucumber-mint drink will take care of that.
2 1/2 stars
Zaytinya: 701 Ninth St. NW. 202-638-0800. zaytinya.com.
Prices: Small plates $6-$20.
Sound check: 82 decibels / Extremely loud.