Charcoal Town Added to 17° CxNW Recommended Restaurant List

Image: Kefta Platter, wrapped chicken sandwich and grape leaves

Last Updated: 5/30/2020

Current Status:  As of Saturday, May 30, they are reopen for dine-in service on their small patio, plus take-out and delivery.  Hours: 12-10pm daily.

Before Times Review:

Last Visit: November 2019

The space is a modest converted rowhouse, requiring a few steps down to the cramped basement.  There you find a small vestibule with a counter to order, and the larger kitchen fills the rest of the bottom floor. There are a few seats upstairs and some outdoors.  The delivery service folks come in and out to pick up food.  It is the food that you come for.

The tall sign attached to the side of the building tells you what they focus on:  Shawarma.  It is called Charcoal Town because they claim to be the first shawarma spot in the United States to cook their meats over charcoal.  The ingredients are fresh.  The meat does have a smoky richness to it. It is a delicate infusion rather than abusive of your palette.  The chicken platter comes loaded with fries and a big dollop of Toum, the Lebanese whipped garlic sauce. The steak platter subs tahini for Toum.  Either platter is a substantial meal. There are other sides available including Fattoush, hummus, and basic stuffed grape leaves. The bread is the thin markouk style rather than the doughier Greek-style pita some might expect.

No alcohol is served.  There is a modest fridge to choose a bottled or canned beverage from (warning: the yogurt drink is tangy, not smoothie sweet).  It is no frills from top to bottom.  When you dig into your food you don’t care.  Tim Carman put this place on his honorable mention list for this top 25 casual eats piece in 2019.  That put it on my radar, and I’m glad he did.  This place is worth a trip out of the way.

Other Guidance:  There is a veggie platter and falafel option for vegetarians.  The meals are substantial enough that skipping the bread will not cost your appetite.

Rating: Worth Taking a Walk
Cuisine:  Eastern Mediterranean
Neighborhood: U Street
Address: 2019 11th Street NW, Washington, DC 20001
Reservations: Walk-in. (202) 232-2330 (Delivery services as of November 2019:,,,

Other Critics/Voices:

Washington Post:  Carman is a fan: honorable mention 2019 casual eats. Top 10 in 2018.

Washingtonian: no coverage yet. – no thread yet.

Washington City Paper: Breaking Down The Three-Pound Steak Shawarma Bowl at Charcoal Town