The Most Overlooked Mediterranean Paradise in Europe
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1. Mi Cuba Cafe1424 Park Rd NW, Washington
2. Mama Ayesha's1967 Calvert St NW, Washington
3. Dahlak1771 U St NW, Washington
4. Queen of Sheba1503 9th St NW, Washington
5. Bukom Cafe2442 18th St NW, Washington
6. Bangkok Golden6395 Seven Corners Ctr, Falls Church
7. Himalayan Heritage2305 18th St NW, Washington
8. Ambar523 8th St SE, Washington
9. Fast Gourmet1400 W St NW, Washington
Amidst all the El Salvadorian chicken dives and Latin barber shops lies Mi Cuba Cafe, a Columbia Heights eatery boasting delicious options like their Cubano sandwiches, churrasco, croquetas, and empanadas.
Mama Ayesha's is all about Egyptian cuisine served in a decadent atmosphere -- get your fill of everything from traditional stuffed grape leaves and baba ghanouj to the more exotic Mount of Olives Salad and lamb shanks in tomato stew.
A few Mediterranean dishes supplement a mostly Eritrean menu -- come to Dahlak and you can use some injera to soak up your doro wat, while enjoying cheap beer at happy hour or some jazz on Sundays.
Queen of Sheba is a hole-in-the-wall joint in Shaw that will treat you to authentic Ethiopian dishes like lamb tibs (lamb in a stew) and doro wat (chicken in a spicy stew).
A legitimate African outpost in the city's party district, Bokum serves authentic West African dishes including egusi (goat with ground melon seeds) and a Ghanian take on fish and plantains.
Showcasing flavors from both Thai and Laotion cuisine, Bangkok Golden dishes up tasty family-style eats -- try any of the larb (minced meat), anything ping (grilled), and the crispy watercress salad.
Enjoy the flavors of Nepal at Himalayan Heritage -- from their chicken dumplings (momo) and popped rice, to Northern Indian-influenced cuisine like paneer, naan, and chicken tikka masala.
Traditional Balkan cuisine gets a modern update at Ambar, a Capitol Hill restaurant where elegant rusticity can be found in both the decor (wooden beams and shelving line the space) and the menu's hearty small plates. The extensive wine list and rakia-infused cocktails (a fruit brandy popular in Eastern Europe) pair well with Ambar's solid lineup of sausages, flatbreads, and house-baked pies. There's no doubt the meat and poultry section is the star of the menu, featuring dishes like bacon & peanut pork tenderloin, chicken kebabs, and slow-cooked pork with cabbage slaw.
Sometimes lunchtime glory can be found in the most unexpected of places, and in Fast Gourmet's case, that's alongside a grungy gas station. Instead of cigarettes and lottery tickets, you'll find a counter serving Latin-influenced "urban street food," which means sandwiches like the Milanesa with New York strip, golden empanadas, and pulled pork with pineapple and lemongrass slaw. All the sandwiches come with a side of fries, and the only thing you have to pump is your ketchup.