Last Updated: January 2023
For 60 plus years this spot has been serving locals and dignitaries alike with the food that “Mama” Ayesha Abraham brought with her from Jerusalem in the mid-20th century. Mama Ayesha’s name is now carried forward by another generation of her family. The menu is divided into four sections. Starters include spreads like hummus, baba ghanouj, stewed fava bean, salads, and a few fried items like falafel or cauliflower. They are a very good way to start. Stuffed items include cabbage, grape leaves, and squash. They are done with ground lamb but can be ordered without for vegetarians. House specialties is where to focus attention with winners like lamb shank or Musakan – a half chicken with sumac, nuts and caramelized onions served on baked bread. The last section – other than desserts – is grilled items that are pretty straightforward: kebabs, kifta, lamb chops, salmon.
The drink menu includes beer, cocktails, and wines – plus fresh mint lemonade! The wine list is nothing fancy, but will take care of your group at a modest mark-up, with more than a few bottles coming in under $50.
For all these years, Mama Ayesha’s has been a mainstay. It hung in there through Covid and continues to do take-out and delivery. For a piece of D.C. history (be sure to check out the mural of presidents on the outside) and a good meal, we suggest swinging by every once in a while.
Other Guidance: The ambiance is casual and relaxed. Vegetarians and GF can do alright. The restaurant is located at street level and on one floor.
Cuisine: Eastern Mediterranean
Neighborhood: Woodley Park
Address: 1967 Calvert St NW, Washington, DC 20009
Reservations: Yelp on Website
Washington Post: Tom called it “fine” in a 2019 chat.
Washingtonian: 2013 piece on classic places revisited.